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Kalaban - Resistance Is Useless CD (album) cover



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3 stars Great production, more mature work, with some remarkable defects and boring parts as well; nevertheless the symphonic breaks through, in the vein of bands such as UK, are excellent... above all the choice of the sounds (those ones from the "Kurtzweil keyboard", but also the digital loops of the other digital synthesizers and expanders) and some good solos at the Hammond organ too. There are some new original ideas, which unfortunately often are not completely developed; it never minds as this album sounds modern and fresh in the same time, and it could be the right new direction to follow, within the modern fusion/progressive American scene at the moment.

Schroedinger's cat is a mini-suite, entirely instrumental, which alone makes this work checking out at least!! Above all the excellent rhythmical section and a remarkable symphonic orchestration as well, during the sudden change of mood, let the listener appreciate their stunning odd time signature!!

A special mention for the first track "Dance of Shiva", characterized by interesting digital loops re-recorded, a clever use of such guitar interplays and a good singing too, which reminds me of that one concerning the performance by David Lee Roth of VAN HALEN, in his best moments. Instead in other circumstances the vocalist is less convincing, but it never minds! This album is not essential, nevertheless is worth checking out at least, being characterized anyway by a personal imprinting and some original and fresh ideas as well!

Report this review (#4116)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars In 1981 Kalaban released their acclaimed debut LP "Don't panic", meanwhile re-released on CD (1990) by USA progrock label Syn-Phonic. Twelve years later we could enjoy the long- awaited successor entitled "Resistance is useless". The sound is in the vein of their debut album: an alternating blend of powerful and propulsive pieces and more dreamy and slow passages, all loaded with fiery electric guitarwork, like in "Hotash slay, Schroedinger's cat" and the long "Eyes of a seer". The song "Sleepless" contains jazzy pianoplay and "Dance of Shiva" features native Indian (Asia) sounds and soaring keyboards. In comparison with "Don't panic" this second album delivers less guitar and more instrumental variation. The keyboards add a more lush element to their sound and the two (guest) bass players Kent Underwood and Matt DeSpain make a good impression, they are also responsible for the powerful sound on this CD. I'm impressed by this convincing new effort after all those years: Kalaban has kept their main ingredients but with a new and fresh sound.
Report this review (#49862)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This band is not very well known as I can deduce from the number of ratings. Second thing about them is that they are obviously considered a good band but nothing more. I can agree to that more or less, but I think I'm slightly more positiv about them. It's regarded as a strange band where their style is concerned. To me this is symphonic prog with a touch of psychedelic/space and indeed it's at least peculiar what they are doing but I don't think this is too weird to like. I think it's original and the compositions are very interesting especially the two longer tracks of course that are real epics.

About the 5 shorter tracks: I like Topspin and Possible worlds best, they are fairly accessable. The other three aren't really the jewels of this album. But altogether this is in fact a 3.5 case to me. Very hard to decide between 3 and 4 stars because this is in fact a unique band with a very nice sound but it's less than most of my 4 star ratings. But becuase I can't agree with the term non-essential becuase of their originality I will have to give 4.

Report this review (#152990)
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Again a 4 star album. Their second album from 1993 entitled Resistence is useless. Quite on the same level with the predecesor and having almost the same ideas only with a much more jazzy elements, Kalaban's second album is an excellent addition to my collection. kalaban is not very popular among prog heads and that one thing is for sure they missing one of the greatest bands from early '90's. They are considered as a strange band, musically speaking, and i don't understand why, they play very tastefully, musicianship is excellent, great pieaces with lots of twists and time signatures. Shorter tracks are very ok, but the last one Eyes of a seer is an essential piece to listen if you want something good from the early '90's. So a big 4 for this unknown band and album, but they desearve a much better view by prog listners.

Report this review (#177184)
Posted Friday, July 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album represents a quantum leap over Kalaban's previous effort in terms of maturity and consistency, full of killer spacy synthesizers and soaring melodic lines, and expansive songs. This is by far my favorite CD from Syn-Phonic's homegrown label.

The odd tracks are the ones to pay special attention to. "Dance of Shiva" is a short piece with a very cool piano riff that builds to an over-the-top spacey and expansive ending--a fun opener to the album. "Hotash Slay" and "Eyes of a Seer" are lengthy pieces that build slowly and effectively, with plenty of interesting twists and turns, and satisfying conclusions. But my favorite song on the album is "Sleepless," a reverie of soaring melodies over lush keyboard textures.

At some points the band is a little overmatched by their music, and the album production has some flaws. Stout's drums, while competent overall, could be tighter in their patterns, there are a couple of obviously missed notes in the keybaords, and the vocals drift a bit out of tune in spots. But the production does manage to cram in all that keyboard goodness with clarity and presence, ready for your headphones to pump out. And given the fact that we're basically talking about the underground of the underground here, that it exists at all for you to enjoy should be cause to celebrate.

I would love to see a new generation of prog fans discover this album.

Report this review (#226918)
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have always had some tenderness for this group. I discovered it in 1993, thanks to Musea records, at a time where prog rock was still searching for a real revival. Most existing prog bands had more or less a "neo prog" style in the vein of Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, more especially in the UK (Jadis, Grey Lady Down, Pallas, Abel Ganz...). I was quite enjoying the Genesis inspiration of these bands but I missed the rich diversity of the 1970's. Only few groups were trying to recreate the multi-form inventiveness of this period : Anglagard in Sweden, some japanese bands regenerated ELP (Ars Nova, Gerard) and some others.

I want to underline that Kalaban has been a kind of pioneer in the rediscovery of a more complex, elaborated, creative prog music just before the emergence of the great phenomenas we well know today (Spock's Beard, Flower Kings, Arena and so on). Of course, it's not a major group. They only released two albums. But they contributed to keep the torch in flame during a somber period for elaborated prog music.

The influences on their first record could be found in different styles : UK, ELP, even King Crimson... and it also contained a lot of jazz-rock elements (some parts make me think about Allan Holdsworth)... This second one is more mature : the imperfections and clumsiness of the preceding one, more especially concerning the guitard sound, have been solved. The musicianship is quite good, David Tomas' voice is fine, between Geddy Lee and Robbie Steinhardt, but he makes it swing more !

The music is rich, full of ideas, alternating beautiful intricate epics (Hotash slay : 14,02 mn ; Eyes of a seer : 21,13 mn) and more compact and rythmic pieces : the very jazzy "Topspin" (4,32 mn) and "Possible worlds" (5,29 mn) after its aerial introduction. Epics are very elaborate, often impressive : full of rythm breaks (good rythmic section) and technical guitar and keys' fast developments.

This record does not diserve 5 stars but between 4 and 4,5. Though, I shall give it the highest rate for having played, in my opinion, an important intermediary role in a period in which the most inventive prog music was not reborn yet. Maybe they came too soon...

Report this review (#1140410)
Posted Sunday, March 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is something different then your run-of-the-mill neoprog. Kalaban focusses more on the King Crimson/Yes style of progrock, rather than Genesis or Pink Floyd.

But this album falls really short. I know it's creative, adventurous and more original then what most bands since 1980, but I really prefer Saga or It Bites. The songs are a big chaos, and it seems nobody listens to each other. They are in eachothers way all the time. Reakky annoying, to hear all the instruments constantly fighting for attention.

Also the drummer is all over the place. He's not tight and should have played with clicktrack. It's frustratingly untight and he chances tempo all the time. The keyboard-leads are really ncie though (sometimes remind me of Mark Kelly). The guitarsound is also horrible.

The production is really amateurish and sounds like a demo rather than an official album. I'm glad that bands like The Flower Kings eventually emerged, so that I can just forget about Kalaban. It's no suprise this band never made it big.

Report this review (#1598295)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2016 | Review Permalink

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