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Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nearly four years in the making, K2 (K squared) is well worth the wait. While being touted as the rebirth of U.K., I would call it more of a melding of Genesis,Yes, U.K. and Atlantis (Ken's former band). The lack of "over-the-top" Jobson styled keyboards keeps the disc from attaining that signature U.K. sound. It is a unque mix that I have not been able to turn off. It's one of the few discs that captures my complete attention.

Ken Jaquess assembled an all-star team to create this album. Guitar great, Allan Holdsworth, sounds relaxed and inspired in his role as lead soloist. The solos are more simple than the normal Holdsowrth fair and contain some of his most touching melodies. The late great Shaun Guerin's vocals are similar to Peter Gabriels and add a touch of Neo- Prog to the overall symphonic feel. Ryo Okumoto lends his fingers to the effort, but never really takes a dominate role. This is the only real short-coming on the disc. If Ryo had stepped up and took some commanding solos, I may have had to re-think my star rating. He does play some beautiful moog solos, BTW. Yvette Devereaux's violin takes many subtle and sinuous leads. Not the sharp, razor edged flashes of Eddie Jobson. I would have liked more trade-offs between Ms. Devereaux and Holdsworth. Jaquess takes a few bass solos, track four, "Aten," is a composed bass solo, that sound a bit like a fingerpicked acoustic guitar played only on the bass strings. Very clear and dry. Unique in a world of slapping bassists. The bass fills throughout are reminiscent of Chris Squire, adding the Yes element into the mix. The drum work of Doug Sanborn is understated and non-intrusive, just solid and professional. The subtle guitar work of John Miner is almost a mere tint of color on the sonic background.

The disc is broken down into five parts, chapters, in which the Egyptian Book of the Dead is unfolded. The concept carries throughout the entire, disc which is clocks in around 46 minutes. Chapter One: Infinite Voyage is a 23 minute epic that doesn't get bogged down with endless noodling or long spaces of ambient twiddling. Balance is the key, keep it moving. The lyrics are filled with references to faith and spirituality. Guerin's delivery catches my earstrings and keeps me focused.

Fans of Classic Prog will find this album entertaining.

Report this review (#34575)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tony R
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars As I get older I find my tastes mellowing and I yearn for"Good Classic Prog" from the long,longago.What is Classic Prog? Mellow keyboards,acoustic guitar,maybe some violin or flute and skilled but not flowery musicianship.You dont really get it anymore do you? Then this album floated down the superhighway,highly recommended from people who know a damn good album when they hear one,and I just cant stop relaxing to it. Arch-noodler Allan Holdsworth has lead guitar duties,and he keeps it straight and simple for the most part,more melodic passages and less frenetic fretwork which helps to keep the whole album together instead of distracting the ear with wizardry.All the assembled musicians play with subtlety with Jaquess in particular putting in some nice bass particularly on the bass showcase "Arten" The concept is of course the infamous "Book Of The Dead" and could easily foundered on the rocks of religious or spiritual tweeness but Guerin's voice adds a certain clarity to the story.Reminiscient of Gabriel,at his Genesis era best,he manages to keep the whole thing tied together and moving along.Of course there are echoes of early Genesis,Yes,ELP and inevitably UK, yet it feels like a breath of fresh air.Great to wind down to but never boring. Highly recommended,but not for the jet set!
Report this review (#34576)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the finest prog releases I have heard in quite a long time. Ken Jaquess should get all the credit for putting this record together although most seem to be focusing on Allan Holdsworth. After hearing the disc several times, I assume John Miner is actually doing the brunt of the guitar work with Allan stepping in for the solos. As much as I like Allan, it is refreshing to hear him outside the context of the usual jazz fusion bubble. Taking nothing away from Allan's brilliant guitar craft, this album could still surive well without him. Although Miner is a different kind of player, he would still do the record justice if he took the solos himself. I know of Heaven's Cafe' and his playing is brilliant as well. Guerin on vocals works for me. Most of us prog heads also love vintage Genesis stuff so I just can't see anyone being offended there. Again I suspect Ryo Okumoto came in as a guest player for the Moog solos. Good solid stuff and again a familiar yet refreshing sound for most progheads. New comer Yvette Devereaux rips on the Zeta violin and again you just have to give credit to Jaquess for picking this lot of talent and making this wonderful album. Ken's bass playing has that classic 70's Rickenbacker sound although I suspect it has been juiced up a bit with other pickups or some sonic mastering in the studio. Regardless it's fat!

All in all the compositions are right on the money, and opening the album with a 20 plus minute epic piece "Infinite Voyage" is surely right up my alley. It's a wonderful listen and one I would recommend to any serious fan of the genre.

Ken Burnett

Report this review (#34577)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've heard it about 4 times now and I'm struggling to find reasons why it should be regarded as an excellent addition to any prog collection let alone a masterpeice.What is clear to me is that there is a desperate lack of any new ideas.The keyboard sounds are very dull,virtually no hammond ,while the songs are just average.The gravelly voice is nice though and Holdsworth is a class act.There are shades of Crimson and UK but this band does not come close to the glories of those bands.Sorry, but this is a 3 star at best for me.
Report this review (#34578)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What an impressive outing this album truly is. Ken Jaquess spent 4 years creating this album, and it really has some of the highest quality musicianship I've ever heard.Ken Jaquess worked 4 years on this album, and it really paid off. This is one of the best albums I've heard all year. The influences are highly noticeable: Yes, ELP, Genesis, UK, etc. Allan Holdsworth is one of the best guitarists in the world today, and he shows off his expertise and precision in a great way on this album. He has the mindless noodling of Steve Howe combined with the mathematical precision of Robert Fripp, and much much more. Shawn Guerin also has a great voice, sounding very much like Peter Gabriel at the height of his Genesis career. Spock's Beard keyboardist Ryo Okumoto plays some incredible keyboards, sounding very much like Tony Banks and Rick Wakeman. Yvette Devereaux plays an incredible violin, her sultry sounds swirling with the string slinging of Holdsworth into an immaculate combination.

The opening track The Infinite Voyage, a 24 minute epic, goes through many moods and tempos without losing interest. I've never got bored of this incredible track, which features incredible work from all members, but especially on the part of Holdsworth and Okumoto. The four remaining tracks on the album are all equally good. They each have different themes that develop quite well. Again, this entire album has a Genesis sound, almost as if it were Foxtrot pt. 2. My second favorite track on the album is Cloak of Antiquity, it just has all the elements of a great track. A great intro, a great vocal line, great musicianship, who could as for more?

Overall, this is a great effort that was well worth the 4 years of production. Unfortunately, the late Guerin is no longer alive, so we can't expect to hear the great vocals again. I hope Jaquess gives K2 another go in the future. I recommend this piece of music to all. 3.5/5

Report this review (#34579)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album has been called a reunion of UK, the late-70s prog supergroup. This seems a bit odd considering that only one ex-member of UK - Alan Holdsworth - is present, and Holdsworth appeared on only one UK album.

However, the comparison is perfect. Imagine UK with Peter Gabriel handling vocals, and Tony Banks of Genesis sharing the keyboard duties with UK's Eddie Jobson, and you have a pretty good idea of what this band sounds like. Add in Jobson-like violins, Holdsworth on guitar and a very good rhythm section, and you've got the great lost UK album.

The results are very good, certainly better than UK's debut album. The highlight is the opening "Infinite Voyage," an epic that clocks in at over 23 minutes. This mysterious, atmospheric track features lots of tasty Hammond organ and synths, ethereal guitars, and smoky Gabriel-style vocals. "Mirror to the Spirits" is an upbeat, marching track that sounds straight up like Gabriel-era Genesis, only much better engineered and recorded. Finally, the album's lyrical concept - the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead - adds a further aura of mystery and intrigue.

The one downside is that the compositions seem to run out of steam toward the end of the album. The entire album was written by group leader and bassist Ken Jaquess; he would be wise to avoid the error made by the dictatorial Trevor Rabin during his Yes days. All truly great prog bands have been collaborative efforts, with input from all talents involved. K2's next effort should be more of a group basis.

However, this is excellent 70s-style symphonic prog, and if you like 70s Genesis or UK, it's highly recommended.

Report this review (#36350)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I finally own the album and have listened to it a couple of time. I must say that this is one of the best buy you can do in this particular moment. Well, this a neo prog stuff deeply focused on the mainstream of classic prog supergroups, particulary Genesis. This is due to Guerin voice so similar to Peter Gabriel one, but anyway is well played, musicians are all very good and the final result is really great. If you hear to the music you will find a lot of echoes of previous historical operas, but more than this you could find may interesting points of interest. And the "plus" of the matter are Holdsworth solos: this jazz-jazz/rock-fusion guitarist worked very good inside of K2, offering a high level range of performances and variety of tastes and feelings. Rio Okumoto virtuoso job on keyboards is good as well and last but not least i have to mention Jaquess bass, always adding the right atmospheres to all the work. The highest point in the the album is the long, epic, various Chapter one - Infinty Voyage but really the entire Book of the Dead is a good effort and a fantastic debut for this supergroup that i will expect now to the second step....hoping to find once more a beatiful surprise like this one. Don't esitate, if you like symphonic prog, classical progressive music, this is a must. Reccomended

Report this review (#36897)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh, how extremely enjoyable is this album. Symphonic prog of highest degree with neo- prog touches. Wonderful guitar by Allan Holdsworth, beautiful violin by Yvette Devereaux, impressive but not-overdone keyboards by Ryo Okumoto, and of course huge talent of multi-instrumentalist Ken Jaquess (just listen to his bass solo on track 4 - awesome). Actually all and every musicians on this project are just brilliant. Vocals of Shaun Guerin suit music superbly. He is kind of mixture of Gabriel and Pete Nicholls. I would give it five stars, unless he had reminded me Nicholls' moaning too often. Othewise very close to masterpiece. Solid 4/4.5 stars.
Report this review (#38272)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars The 10 ratings for this album on the Prog Archives site ranges from three to four, so you can conclude that this is at least a good album. In my opinion it would have been at least a four star rating as it has inly consisted of the long first composition (almost 25 minutes), what a killer track! This composition entitled "Chapter One: Infinity Voyage" does not really contain a theme or refrain but nonetheless it remains captivating until the end, thanks to the flowing shifting moods and strong soli. Guitarplayer Allan Holdsworth has such a distinctive style: he changes very fluent from a kind of sustain to short, quick runs or howling licks, unique! The violin play is wonderful and sounds very strong, what a talent. And the keyboards on this album ara amazing, especially the Moog synthesizer soli and the floods of Mellotron but also the work on the piano and organ is great. The vocals from the late Shaun Guerin reminds me of Peter Gabriel, mainly because of the bit melancholical undertone, to me they sound very pleasant and matches perfect to the other musicians and their sound. The other four tracks (between 3 and 7 minutes) are often fluent again great soli on guitar, violin and synthesizer but they misses the spark as on the first song. As I 'Tron Maniac' I'm delighted about the majestic choir-Mellotron in the final Chapter Five. THIS IS A GREAT DEBUT-CD!!
Report this review (#39560)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well I don't give it the top score , because a band working for a new exploration of musical languages should be defined as a true "progressive band" if they were able to find a really renewed music path, still nowadays (I think of Echolyn inside "Suffocating the Bloom", for example)...instead the present ensemble -created by Ken Jaquess with the support of Allan Holdsworth (as you know, already guitarist within the first line-up of UK) and Ryo Okumoto (already with Spock's Beard)-by retracing their usual classic stuff is skillful in its emulation regarding the old ideas from bands such as UK and early Genesis, without adding anything new.But this is not a problem for me, because the background of each member is that one of a "classic progressive rock and fusion" band!! Soon you can listen to an epic composition- 25 minutes long-entitled "Infinite Voyage", which is their first chapter:ok it's an important but not completely original suite, as well as a perfect outmoded arrangement, according to the 70's stereotype.Morevoer, as a matter of fact, The Moog and the Hammond organ recall such an old style from the seventies, but I don't want to criticize them absolutely, as unfortunately Shaun Guerin ("Gabrielesque" vocalist) sadly passed away after the recording of this album and in a short time.Therefore it's a concept album about the famous "Book of the Dead", that you can hardly resume in a short music project (total timing: 46:38);while K2 has got such a complex task into focus ( the first chapter only is a little bit prolix) till the end...think for instance of some stunning tracks such as "Aten (Window of Appearences)",where Jaquess and Holdsworth perform a good job together-within a short tune-3 minutes long.Instead probably there is a minor defect inside "The Edge of Light", cause of some repetitive melodic lines,even though Guerin's vocalism, soaring on "Mirror to the Spirits", is always remarkable!! Besides, talking about a few defects inside, Allan Holdsworth is a guest soloist within the whole project, while John Miner has performed the majorioty of the guitar I 'm not happy about it but nevermind,as the present work is excellent!If you regard of the solo-violin within The Edge of Light", in a sort of up-tempo used by a fine instrument like that,especially in the manner of a powerful player (do you remember Eddie Jobson with UK?!) and considering also the effective conclusion of the concept (Chapter 5 : "Cloak of Antiquity),which is never boring or prolix, you are very satisfied at the end!

This recent music project doesn't concern the refounding (or temporary reunion) of UK, such a super band,because there is one former member only from its original line-up; and moreover Allan is a guest star here...but at the end-however- the present work is well worth checking out from the beginning to the end!!

Try this at home and be happy!!

Report this review (#42691)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Hey guys... don't make the same mistake that I made... This is NOT absolutely a symph prog rock album... It's just a neo-prog work, and I have to say, one of the BAD ONES... Look... I'm not a great fan of neo-prog, but I like of the good ones, like the first works by MARILLION, IQ and PALLAS. But this album is just mediocre ! Mr. Jacques made some weak and forgetable songs and called great musicians to help to suppress his talentless music ! This is the real truth about this album: weak compositions with great musicians trying to put some substance to ordinary music. The refrains of songs 2, 3 & 5 are repetitive and pathetic !!! My God... what Holdsworth and Okumoto are doing here? Pass away from this (bad) album..
Report this review (#54985)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Based on the the lineup, this is a bit of a dissapointment. Everything is well played, Holdsworth is Holdsworth, but the compositions are just simply nothing special. I can't pin point any plagerism or blatant tributes, but it all sounds like I've heard it before. The album seems pretty homogenous is style and sound. Still, as I said, the performances are quite good and it is one of (maybe THE one?) Shaun Guerin's last performances before he passed away, so it does have some value. And I've heard MUCH worse prog albums that were touted as masterpieces. So while it is not a masterpiece, it isn't exactly a waste of time either. I would say to anyone curious, seek out samples or whole songs and listen before buying. Had I heard some of the material before buying I might not have purchased this. Because of the overall quality I am giving it 3 stars, but it could just as easily be 2 stars (say 2 1/2, rounding up because of the overall quality).
Report this review (#55075)
Posted Monday, November 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album, very listenable one, i love its sound, very fresh sound even thou it has some prog cliches on it ( but we all enjoy this sometimes, dont you?) firt track it's the best one, great keys and killer solos by mr. Holdsworth . vocals seem to be the rebirth of peter gabriel into prog. overall very enjoyable one. if you love Genesis as its best you will probably love this album.
Report this review (#58878)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a very good concept album with the feel of early Genesis (Fountain of Salmacis, Firth of Fifth, The Lamia), but contains more punch and variety with the violin and thicker bass lines. The Genesis comparisons are obvious because of the late Shaun Guerin's vocals, which bear an unmistakable likeness to Peter Gabriel (especially when Guerin is moodily singing phrases like "sands of time", "god of kings", "bones and flesh", etc). In fact, I'm surprised that none of the songwriting is credited to Guerin as some of these passages sure bear similitudes with music from his great solo work. (Hint: Buy THOSE albums too.)

This is my first exposure to Ken Jaquess, the leader/songwriter/bass player in this group, K-Squared. His bass playing is very melodic, almost athletic in places, with sophisticated lines laid down with a rich, deep tone. He uses bass pedals too a lot on this album, perhaps to enhance some of the dark mystery of the subject matter. The fourth song, "Aten", is a pleasant 3-minute bass solo with synth accompaniment.

I bought this CD primarily because of the presence of Allan Holdsworth. (By the way, this band sounds VERY LITTLE like the great U.K. - no jazz fusion here, no attention- deficit time changes, different vocals, different don't buy this solely for any references to U.K.) Allan's guitar sounds great - a bit deeper and "smokier" than the 1970's sound. It's so refreshing to hear his trademark phrasing and tone in the prog format again. There are two minutes beginning around the 11:30 mark of the first track that are just classic Holdsworth, and one of the highlights of the CD.

With only 46 minutes of music on the entire CD, the heart of this album defaults to the 23-minute opener "Infinite Voyage". Much of the music on this disc is mid-tempo (almost plodding), which fits the theme of the album very well; the opening song is no exception. Sort of a "suite" of 4 or 5 variations on a central theme, the opener is an excellent work with great keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and lyrics. A great way to set the tone of the CD. (And that Holdsworth solo! Mmmm..Mmmm!)

The three shorter tracks I haven't mentioned yet (2,3 & 5) are all very good, and include some very tasteful and interesting keys from Ryo Okumoto - almost Tony Banks-like here, with none of the bombast that you might see in some of Ryo's playing with Spock's Beard. Doug Sanborn's drums are also impressive throughout - fast and innovative, yet jazzy at times too.

I actually would have liked to have heard more of the violin, which was used somewhat sparingly on the cd. Devereaux's playing is not nearly as angular or frenetic as U.K.'s Jobson (or Ponty or Goodman, for that matter), but she's obviously talented, and the violin is a great sound for this type of music.

I do wish the CD was longer. I know, I know - if you can complete your musical statement on a concept album in 46 minutes, then that's how long the album should be. Still, in a world of 60-minute standards (and 80-minutes available!), another 15- minute epic to close the album would have been PERFECT. So I'm going to take half a star away for brevity, folks. Sorry.

Overall, a very good album ("4-1/2 stars"), decent artwork, and good production. It's nice to see a bunch of virtuosos from different bands get together and make it all click in a one-off project like this. Perhaps they'll find a worthy replacement to Shaun Guerin and do it again!

If you're a fan of early Genesis, you'll love it.

Report this review (#71319)
Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This CD, sadly, revisits why prog music faded from the limelight in the 1980's. It is a bit pompous, self-indulgent, and very pretentious. It's CD's like this one that gave proggressive rock a bad name from day one. Don't get me wrong here. I am a huge fan of Yes, ELP, Gong, Gentle Giant, and all the legendary bands from the 70's, but there came a point where prog all-too-often became a "showcase of musical talents". Excessive "noodling" and less attention to melody, even tempo.

Everything here is listenable at the very least. Nothing stands out as stellar, or even truly insprired/inspiring. Alan Holdsworth is a noteworthy presence here, but his decades-long forays into jazz and solo recording have made him almost a sore thumb here.

This said, I am happy to stay with the likes of Marillion. Perhaps it's just my age, but I long for a well-honed melody and am less impressed with how much insipid noodling a musician can accomplish. I'll gladly turn to Mahavishnu Orchestra and Brand X for that.

Report this review (#84561)
Posted Saturday, July 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album sounds to me like a mix of Citizen Cain, UK, Genesis, Symphonic Slam.. I can hear excellent solo by Holdsworth and a flavor of Eddie Jobson's style of violin playing - played right here by Yvette Devereaux. The opening track "Chapter 1 : Infinite Voyage" (23:25) seems so grandiose with long epic, composed in a neo progressive style. Unfortunately the movement from one segment to another does not seem natural and they sound like "being forced" to fit into the overall music. There are excellent solos of violin and guitar but they don't seem to form excellently as a cohesive composition. This does not mean that it's not a good track. The vocal quality is similar to Cyrus of Citizen Cain or Peter Gabriel - a bit softer.

"Chapter 2 : Mirror to the Spirits" (6:54) seems like symphonic prog composition relying on keyboard as main structure. As first track this one is a simple composition with slow-medium tempo. "Chapter 3 : The Edge of Light" (7:03) is an excellent track with nice violin solo and soaring organ sounds. "Chapter 4 : Aten (Window of Appearences)(3:22)" is an ambient music exploring keyboards and bass solo. "Chapter 5 : Cloak of Antiquity" (5:54) concludes the album in faster tempo with excellent composition combining violin, drums and keyboards.

This album would favor those who love Marillion and those who love neo prog style.Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#85261)
Posted Monday, July 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars As an older listener this debut sits very comfortably with my memories of prog of yesteryear.

An excellent debut that contians all the ramblings and sounds of vintage 70's prog. Nods to those greats are respectfully made, in fact these references appear to be deliberate. (Not overly surprising with the line up). Having said that this puts a new slant on those epics of yore and it is refreshing that a current group can reinvent that style and still sound fresh and original, some testiment.

The first track takes a good 6 minutes to 'warm' up then follows a further 17... full opportunities are given to instrumental ramblings that feel essential to the whole. tracks 2 and 4 allow the bass to deliver in style. Track 3 starts with a more rocky pastiche with the violin allowed some reign, suddenly to be interupted by a more sedate restoration. The final track restores the 'nods' to the past.

Finally the resemblance in vocal quality to PETER GABRIEL is uncanny, perhaps un-nerving, but strangely it seems apt, almost what one would expect to hear...

Worthy of the 4 star rating. I look forward to the next outing.

Report this review (#92000)
Posted Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a cd which got better with every listen. There's nothing new under the sun but the work here is impeccable. Book 1: Infinite Voyage is the epic on the cd. From Holdsworth's soaring solos, Devereaux's Jobson-like violin work and Okumotos beautiful moog work, this piece is a gem. A special nod for the engineering work here. The fade-ins and fade-outs are subtle and the recording is crystal clear. What can be said about Guerin's vocals? Yes he sounds like Gabriel circa 1970 and his delivery is full of nuances. The other pieces are up to par but not as good as Book 1. The overall sound is comparable to UK meets Genesis. K2 is considered a neo-prog ensemble but I would seriously consider them as having symphonic affinities. Hopefully Ken Jacquess will hire a replacement for the late Sean Guerin and they'll produce new material. Book of the Dead is a worthy addition to any prog collection.
Report this review (#94158)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An old-fashioned concept album and a Pharaoh's vault of quality music, k2 was a welcome project from some of the best names in the Prog community. Book of the Dead is the baby of keyboardist/bassist Ken Jaquess and is based on the Egyptian (not Tibetan) death text - The Book of Coming Forth by Day - on how to navigate the plane of the afterlife, the "intermediate state", and boasts a daunting line up including guitarist Allan Holdsworth, Doug Sanborn on drums, some nice piano and Moog work from Ryo Okumoto, Peter Gabriel emulator Shaun Guerin doing a fine job singing, and Yvette Devereaux's tasty violin.

Book of the Dead may wield few new progressive ideas and is perhaps a bit green and downy-cheeked, but it is also a great-sounding record of completely sincere progressive rock. And that still has value, right? Taking us on a flight over the Nile down to Ta Shemau, across the Sahara to the Theban Necropolis and straight into the Valley of the Kings is the sprawling 'Chapter 1:Infinate Voyage', and the music reflects that desert journey with an impressive vision and great playing from all. The effect is quite like concept-era Genesis at times, and with Guerin's I-can't-not-sound-like-Peter Gabriel vocals, we hear remnants of what that band may have tossed aside. But one man's tossings are another's gold. Chapters 2 and 3, 'Mirror to the Spirits' and 'The Edge of Light' continue the grandeur and plenty of organ, synths, carefully honed solos, swelling production and many changes. Quite tasteful overall, sometimes like the more refined moments of U.K. with symphonetta lines, Okumoto's squealing Moog and Devereuax's fiddle. 'Aten', the 4th Chapter, is a mellow instrumental soundscape and Chapter 5, 'Cloak of Antiquity' finishes everything in papyrus and mummy wrappings. A strong three and a half stars. Good show.

Report this review (#126732)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first four minutes of the opening track are ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. Very few times did I live such an experience. These are phenomenal moments. Lush keyboards, gorgeous violin and a great guitar solo which is a full carbon-copy of a Steve Howe one. I guess you can call this heaven.

Shaun has been the vocalist of a Genesis tribute band. So, don't be surpised, when he enters the scene you will be transported in the early seventies, but with a modern sound.

The listener is surrounded by the powerful sound which fully embraces you. The dialog between the violin and the guitar is truely remarkable. Imposing keys fit so perfectly that you almost don't notice them (unless they are on the front line).

"Infinite Voyage" superbly summarizes the neo-prog genre; although it is so symphonic and melodramatic...It is indeed a fantastic voyage in time and sounds. Instrumental sections will transport you to the utmost joy, believe me ! Vocals are more a recitation and adds even more grandeur and solemnity to the whole. You can easily imagine an Egyptian priest performing his religious acts.

A great symphonic prog epic. All the way through. SUBLIME. Maybe a bit too much "Yes" oriented musically. Can you imagine Yes with Gabriel , Well, you almost get them here !

Well, after this masterpiece, you need a deep breath of fresh air to go on with the album. Actually, the probability that you want a replay is very much probable. And it is probably the most advisable thing to do because the other parts of the album are not of the same caliber (but is it possible ?).

Don't worry, none of the songs are bad but sound just average in comparison. "The Edge Of Light" is almost a shorter version of "Infinite" while "Aten" is a quiet and beautiful instrumental song. Bass playing is seriously Chris Squire influenced, to say the least at the end of the song. My second fave is the closing number "Claok Of Antiquity". It is IMO, the most Genesis-like song. Again, it is a beautiful example of how great this band sounds. Neo-prog ? Symphonic ? Great music !

There won't be anymore albums from this line-up since Shaun passed away in 2003, soon after he had recorded his vocal parts. Still, K2 will re-unite in 2006 for ONE gig in LA. Vocalist was Josh Gleason from "The Waiting Room" (another Genesis tribute band). No more news about another release so far, but who knows ?

Four stars.

Report this review (#132472)
Posted Thursday, August 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars K2 are the result of Ken Jaquess's anxious spirit,a music project featuring well-known musicians from the prog scene.Ken was the bassist of the US prog band Atlantis,who released two albums betwwen 1997 and 2002,before putting them on ice for the sake of a new project around the Egyptian book of the dead.Calling Allan Holdsworth on guitars,Shaun Guerin as a vocalist and Ryo Okumoto on keys,this project was meant to succeed.Never having performed live,K2 released their debut on ProgRock Records in April 2005.

Much of the musicians' personalities are on the front listening to this album and the 23-min. opus ''Infinite voyage'' is the best example.A very atmospheric track based on the sensational Gabriel-esue vocals of Guerin and the atmospheric synths of Okumoto.Holdsworth is also there to deliver great solos close to his work with U.K.,while the violin passages of Yvette Devereaux comes like a cross between Eddie Jobson and KANSAS' Robbie Steinhardt.Okumoto alternates his work between piano,synths and Hammond,bringing on the surface memories of his SPOCK'S BEARD's days,though this time his playing is more grandiose and deep.Not that complex,but certainly a great track full of changing atmospheres and moods.

Going for the shorter tracks,Guerin's voice comes even closer to my ears to CITIZEN CAIN's Cygnus,as in the catchy ''Mirror in the spirits'',featuring dreamy synths along the way,a memorable chrorus and a fantastic spacey guitar middle section delivered by Holdsworth.K2 seem to intent on deep atmospheres and that's what happens with ''The edge of light'',where Devereaux's violin returns,but the track holds a slow tempo,dominated by Guerin's vocals and Okumoto's synths.Holdsworth distinctive guitars add an extra U.K. flavor again,though the track won't rise on high standarts.''Aten'' seems to be Jacquess' personal outburst.Background spacey synths will follow Ken's bass lines from the start to the end on an instrumental track,which can be regarded only as a soundscape for all the dreamy listeners.''Cloak of Antiquity'' will lead you to the end of the album and this is the closest thing to U.K.'s legend. Driving violins,memorable grooves,heavy use of floating synthesizers and a fair amount of (again) atmospheric and emotional vocals are an excellent epilogue to a very nice effort.

A great epic,two very good tracks and a mediocre one (I won't count the short instrumental one) sum up to 3.5-4 star rating.Well,I will go with 4 for this one,recognizing the band's talent and the excellent reincarnation of the classic U.K. sound!

...and a last personal notice: this in not neo prog by any means...

Report this review (#164601)
Posted Saturday, March 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was listening to the 25 minutes long opening track with the BritAwards on TV in the background. The contrast between those three minutes long tunes and K2's music was startling. K2's music can be compared to both Yes, U.K. and Genesis. In other words, wonderfully lush with tonnes of guitars and keyboards. The vocals too is great. Unfortunate, some parts on this, a four tracks long album is a bit bland and not in the same league as the three above mentioned bands. But this is still by no means a bad album and I am pretty sure I will listen to it a lot in the future. Unfortunate; the vocalist died just after making this album and K2 is no more. This is their only album, but they left on a high.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#187777)
Posted Monday, November 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars From under a cloak of antiquity

Since this group is listed under Neo-Prog, I feel that I must begin this review by issuing a warning (which is more of a blessing for some of us!): K2's Book Of The Dead sounds nothing like Marillion, IQ, Pallas, Pendragon, Arena, or similar groups. If any similarities with these groups could be detected in K2's music this would have more to do with similar first hand influences than on any influence on K2 coming from these British bands. Further, within the ranks of K2 we find none other than the great Allan Holdsworth who is clearly a classic, first generation Prog artist. As most people on this site will know, Holdsworth has been in the music business since the early 70's and has played in many prominent classic progressive rock groups including Tempest and UK. In addition he has released solo albums on a regular basis since the 70's (mainly in the Jazz-Rock field) and as far as I know he never had anything at all to do with the Neo- Progressive movement that started in the early 80's with some of the bands I mentioned above. While K2 is listed as a US band, they are in fact a multi-national band due to the presence of Holdsworth who is British.

The sound of Book Of The Dead is much more in line with classic Symphonic Prog, but even that would not do K2 full justice. This is neither Neo-Prog nor 'retro-Prog'; this is neither truly vintage nor truly modern. Rather, it has a timeless sound! While all of the people involved here are obviously very talented, Holdsworth steals the show with his totally unique and distinctive guitar sound. No one else could ever sound like him and his presence here gives the music of K2 a 'cloak of antiquity'; a credibility and classic feeling often lacking in post-70's progressive rock. Though less theatrical and a bit more laid back, the vocals are strongly Peter Gabriel-like. The bass guitar sound is equally strongly Chris Squire-like and the keyboards remind of bands like Genesis, Camel and Manfred Mann's Earth Band at their respective best. There is also some exquisite violin on the album often sounding a bit like Kansas. In the overall atmosphere and feeling of the music it sometimes reminds me of the excellent, recently released Proto-Kaw albums. Despite similarities with such classic groups, K2 has managed to find their own sound and I do not find this music derivative in any obvious or distracting way.

Due to Holdsworth's presence it is perhaps natural to also want to compare K2 with the band UK in which Holdsworth played in the late 70's and that also featured a line up of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and violin. However, the music of K2 is much less intense compared to that of UK. Some passages are more in the somewhat 'sleepy' mood and slower tempo of Camel's Moonmadness and Genesis calmer moments. K2's music is always harmonic and never aggressive or dissonant.

While I immediately liked the sound of this band, it took several listens before I got into the music. My very first impression was that the songs were not strong enough melodically to be really memorable. However, like with many great progressive rock albums it took several listens before it started to sink in and began to grow on me. I have now listened to this album over and over, over a period of more than a weak, and it keeps growing on me. The melodies that reveal themselves over several listens are gorgeous and turned out to have lasting appeal. This is more than can be said of Holdsworth's solo efforts. While he is a very unique and interesting guitar player, he is not a very good songwriter/composer. His solo albums are often quite tedious to listen too, often lacking in melody and composition. It is clearly when he worked with other people like in Tempest, UK and here in K2 that he created his best works. However, fans of Holdsworth's highly experimental side might perhaps find the music of K2 undemanding. For me, on the other hand, Book Of The Dead is together with UK's debut the very best albums (of the ones I've heard) Holdsworth ever participated in making! This is an excellent chance to get a taste of Holdsworth's unique guitar playing for those (like me) who are not too keen on experimental Jazz-Rock/Fusion and improvisation.

Book Of The Dead consists of only five songs, or chapters as they are called here, the longest being a 23 minute plus piece and the shortest is an instrumental with the very well played bass guitar as the leading instrument. The latter is inevitably the weakest number of the album. The bass guitar is extremely well played on the whole album and this instrumental isn't really that essential, but I do not find it distracting. The high quality of the music is spread equally over the album and there are no real standout tracks nor are there any weak ones. However, I tend to prefer the three mid-length tracks Mirror Of The Spirits, The Edge Of Light and Cloak Of Antiquity.

The album is based on the Egyptian book of the dead and the lyrics are certainly not your average love songs. The concept helps to hold the music together.

It is also a strong advantage of the album that it runs for only 46 minutes, not committing the all too common mistake in the age of the compact disc to pack the disc too full of material. A shorter length often makes for a more cohesive album and avoids overwhelming the listener with too much material at once. A further advantage is the very high production values, Book Of The Dead is something of a sonic masterpiece. And I think this is a great addition to any Prog collection.

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#226517)
Posted Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've been checking out this album a number of times lately and feel ready for the review now. At this moment this album is right in the middle between three and four stars (3,52) and that's just about where my thoughts about it are as well. On itself this album should be a classic where the line up of musicians is concerned but I have a bit of a problem with the compositions and also the execution.

Which is strange because the execution is the part where you would expect excellency but instead it's all a bit underwhelmimg for me. It already shows with the epical track which should be my absolute favorite when you realize I'm an epic freak but I'm afraid it's not. Infinite Voyage is a track full of guitar passages (I prefer this word here to solos because a guitar solo is supposed to be a memorable piece of music, at least in my book) and these passages are mainly my problem with this track. Alan Holdsworth is a famous and no doubt great guitarist but his style doesn't work for me one bit. It sounds a bit messy what he's doing here and I have to admit I'm not very familiar with his usual style but if he always plays like this then I'll pass with his other performances through the years. I like the smooth and clear guitar style of Nick Barrett, Gary Chandler or John Mitchell but this style is totally different. I'm willing to believe there are lots of fans of this style but not me. It even annoys me a bit listening to it so that explains my problem with this epic. There are also some keyboard passages on the track and they are much more impressive to me. Another striking feature of Infinite Voyage is the break almost exactly half way the epic which reminds me of Driver's Seat by TFK and Trick of the Mind by Magic Pie. All in all a track I have very mixed feelings about but can give no more than 3,5* all things considered.

Next one, Mirror to the Spirits, is more impressive to me. It's a catchy song that gets stuck in your mind in a positive way and this one is my highlight of the album. 3,75*.

Third track is called The Edge of Light and is just about as hard to digest as the opening epic. Nothing really great here and forgettable therefore. 3,25*.

Fourth song is called Aten (Window of Appearences) and is an ambient instrumental track. It all sounds a bit mysterious creating a sort of old Egyptian feel. Nice. 3,5*.

Last one (Cloak of Antiquity) is more like third track and has the same impact on me. 3,25*.

The overall feeling about this album is that it could and should have been better. It's a good/very good album though but not excellent and that's why I will keep the rating limited to three stars.

Report this review (#230685)
Posted Sunday, August 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The brains behind this project is Ken Jauquess from the Neo-Prog band ATLANTIS. He has brought together some incredible talent, not the least of those being the great Allan Holdsworth on guitar. Ryo Okumoto from SPOCK'S BEARD is on keyboards, and while I wasn't familiar with the other members I sure am now. Sad that the Gabriel-like vocalist Shaun Guerin passed away not long after this recording.There is some really good violin on this one as well from Yvette Devereaux. I'm just so used to hearing Holdsworth on Jazz / Fusion albums that it's a real treat to hear him in this setting. This is a concept album about the Egyptian "Book Of The Dead" and it's divided into 5 chapters or songs.

The album opens with the 23 1/2 minute "Infinite Voyage". Lots of atmosphere to start before the piano comes in around a minute. A full sound after 1 1/2 minutes including mellotron. Amazing sound ! Check out Holdsworth and also the huge bass. Violin comes screaming in after 3 1/2 minutes with tons of atmosphere. Vocals for the first time 4 minutes in. It kicks in after 6 minutes with violin. Great sound here with huge bass. Holdsworth before 9 1/2 minutes starts to light it up. Love the sound 10 minutes in with vocals, mellotron and bass. Guitar joins in ripping it up. It turns spacey then drums and guitar come in after 11 1/2 minutes. It settles with vocals 14 minutes in then kicks back in with lots of synths. Massive bass before 21 1/2 minutes. Vocals and mellotron join in then guitar. Incredible !

"Mirror To The Spirits" opens with synths as intricate guitar and mellotron join in. A full sound with organ a minute in. Huge bass as vocals join in with mellotron. Great tune. Atmosphere after 3 1/2 minutes as the melody stops. Vocals are back 5 minutes and the melody follows. "The Edge Of Light" opens with pulsating keys then organ as violin rips it up. Vocals before a minute as it settles some. Synths follow. Violin 2 minutes in. Lots of atmosphere 4 minutes in and the bass is prominant as usual. Guitar solo to the end. "Aten (Window Of Appearances)" features atmosphere and bass throughout in this instrumental. "Cloak Of Antiquity" opens with synths, mellotron and drums. Violin comes in. Vocals and bass standout eventually as the song kicks in. This is really good. Great beat. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes but not for long as guitar and drums take care of that.

A solid 4 stars. I really like the melancholic mood and fat bass lines. Of course Holdsworth never disappoints. Just a really enjoyable album for me.

Report this review (#246288)
Posted Sunday, October 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars K2 is a nice romantic symphonic prog rock act.

This music is so poetic and intense.

The jazzy taste is strongly incorporated by A Holdsworth guitar passages, and his particular extended electronic sound (as an electronic violin)

Quite a melancholic music and very well executed .

The instrumentation ,the vocals(nice vocals) in the correct place and time .

Obvious influences of UK prog band . But also a strong influence of mid seventies Yes, particularly Going For The One,and more specific Awaken ... majestuous song.

A remarkable variety of intensity in the songs and all of them with the correct length.

I really pleasure for the ears.

4 or 4,5 stars

Report this review (#253722)
Posted Monday, November 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was bought for me as a xmas prezzie (2009) - and I asked Father chrimbo to deliver it at the same time he was emptying his sacks in my wifes stockings or whatever.....Anyway, I gave it a little spin and THIS IS A GREAT PROGRESSIVE CD. The opening track is impressive, featuring an opening AXE attack from Allan Holdsworth that is just melodic fret picking and yep it's VERY IMPRESSIVE. The singer is very similar to Peter Gabriel and so thats another winner and then we have the very neat and tidy Moog/Organ/Piano work of Ryo Okumoto.The opening epic is majestic and not boring at any point, the production sort of puts it into retro prog feel, I especially get an AS ABOVE SO BELOW sort of composition, it is also reminiscent of many demo tapes that I collected in the eighties. This is the sort of prog I love, loads of mellotron and swirling synths and Guitars - also some nice electric violin.Tracks 2,3 and 5 are all much shorter than the opener (mores the pity) but these are all immensely listenable with nice melodies. The only instrumental track (4) is the weakest on the CD but also the shortest ! I reckon if you know my taste Flower Kings/IQ/Genesis/Yes/Camel then I reckon this CD should be a MUST have for your collection. The opening track alone is FIVE STARS, this is an essential CD for anybody who has a penchant for symphonic prog.
Report this review (#258969)
Posted Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
1 stars I've given this album a couple of spins over the course of approximately a year and after listening to it today I've realized that this is the perfect definition of hollow music. Originally I was intrigued by the idea of this supergroup and it's impressive roster of talent. With descriptions like "The Greatest Supergroup Since U.K." what could possibly go wrong?

Ken Jaquess is the mastermind behind this project, the song material and the concept. It becomes obvious early on that Jaquess is no Neal Morse which means that he doesn't know how to compose material or organize a project that would inspire creative collaboration. All the other so called band members are only here to contribute their names to the project since there isn't really a single contribution that is worth mentioning. There are a few instrumental sections that have been strategically placed for Allan Holdsworth/Yvette Devereaux/Ryo Okumoto to fill in with their instrument of choice on the recording. Which means that there is no interplay between these members! So how can this even be considered a group effort?

I realize that it might be harsh to complain about Shaun Guerin's contribution since Shaun passed away shortly after the completion of this album. To be fair there isn't anything wrong with his performance and any criticism I have can only be addressed towards Ken Jaquess' poor judgment and placement of the vocal sections. It feels like the vocal sections have the same purpose as the instrumental guest appearances and the music never feels like a coherent effort.

The only interesting thing about Book Of The Dead is how Ken Jaquess actually got away with calling this a band effort! This is nothing else but his solo album with a few well placed guest appearances and the fact that these appearances happen on every track still don't make it a band effort since a band needs to communicate and play together to achieve a creative collaboration.

I can only imagine that Allan Holdsworth completionists might be interested in this material and even they would be disappointed by this disjoint mess of an album.

*** star songs: Chapter 1 : Infinite Voyage (23:25)

** star songs: Chapter 2 : Mirror To The Spirits (6:54) Chapter 3 : The Edge Of Light (7:03) Chapter 4 : Aten (Window Of Appearences) (3:22) Chapter 5 : Cloak Of Antiquity (5:54)

Report this review (#265662)
Posted Thursday, February 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nº 35

When I first read about the existence of this musical project, in Progarchives, I became very curious about it. But, what most amazed me was that the whole work was written, arranged and produced by Ken Jaquess, a musician who I had never heard about before. As I became curious about this project, I tried to buy this album as soon as possible.

K2 is the first project of the bassist Ken Jaquess of the L.A. based band Atlantis, formed during the 90's. They recorded two CD's, 'Atlantis' in 1997 and 'Pray For Rain' in 2003. For those who don't know anything about this band and are interested to know something more about them, you can consult the biography of the group in this site.

Wanting to recreate the 70's classic symphonic rock sound and to help fulfil his musical vision, Ken Jaquess (bass, keyboards and 10 string acoustic guitar), searched for the musicians who could master the vintage sound of the instruments, of that musical period. His choice was Shaun Guerin (vocals), Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Ryo Okumoto (piano and moog), Yvette Devereaux (violin), John Miner (guitar) and Doug Sanborn (drums).

About the musicians who participated on this project, I really had only heard of Devereaux and Guerin, and sincerely, I only really knew Holdsworth and Okumoto. Holdsworth is a guitar virtuoso artist, who performed many different styles of music. He is best known for his work in the jazz fusion style. He became well known because of his cooperation in bands like Soft Machine and Gong. He also performed most of the guitar work on the Bill Bruford's debut solo album 'Feels Good To Me', before both have joined to the new progressive super-group, UK. Okumoto is the keyboardist of Spock's Beard. Deveraux was the first African American woman conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and was also the first African American woman to obtain a conductor's degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She explores the progressive rock and founded the Progressive Symphony in Los Angeles. Guerin was best known as the lead vocalist, but he also played drums, in the American Genesis' tribute band, called Cinema Show. As its name indicates, the group played Genesis' music of the Gabriel's era. Guerin's vocals are very similar to Peter Gabriel's vocals. As a premonition, Guerin sadly passed away, shortly after the completion of 'Book Of The Dead'.

From his youth, Ken has a huge fascination with the ancient world and with all their civilizations. It was instilled by his mother. Ken always had love and fascination with ancient Egypt, particularly with 'The Book Of The Dead' which is the name given to the ancient Egyptian funerary text that comprises a collection of hymns, spells and instructions, to allow the dead pass through all the obstacles, in the afterlife. With ideas and stories taken directly from the original book, Ken has weaved an intricate and an ornate tale of rules, about death and the ultimate journey to the afterlife.

'Book Of The Dead' is the debut studio album of K2 and was released in 2005. It's a conceptual musical work of five songs presented as chapters, with a total time of 46 minutes. It was started in 2001 and took four years to finish. The opening track 'Chapter 1: Infinite Voyage' is the lengthiest track on the album. It's a grandiose and epic theme in the neo-prog vein. As the name indicates, it's a fantastic voyage in time and sounds, which carries us to the times of the ancient Egyptians. The second track 'Chapter 2: Mirror To The Spirits' is a track with a dramatic opening and continues the grandeur of the previous track, with plenty of great remarkable instrumental work, provided by all musicians. The third track 'Chapter 3: The Edge Of Light' is a great track in the same vein of the previous two. It's a very tasteful song with great violin work and with plenty keyboard sounds. The fourth track 'Chapter 4: Aten (Window Of Appearances)' is an instrumental track very beautiful. It's a song that explores the ambient music through the keyboards and the bass guitar, what makes it seems a bit mysterious. The fifth track 'Chapter 5: Cloak Of Antiquity' concludes the album with a very good composition, with great violin work, floating keyboards, good drums, and is well accompanied by emotional vocals. This atmosphere is a nice epilogue for the end of this very good conceptual project.

Conclusion: This is a very interesting project served by a handful of fine musicians. The final result is an excellent debut album. In almost 47 minutes, you are taken along a journey that features all the elements of the era in which progressive rock music was invented. It means that you are listening to many musical traces of great progressive 70's groups, especially Genesis, UK and Yes. The musical traces of Genesis are particularly evident, mainly due the similitude between the voices of Guerin and Gabriel. However, you can also enjoy of modern jazz rock influences. With the release of 'Book Of The Dead', K2 have been touted as the new super group that descended to our progressive musical world. Undoubtedly, I really salute this splendid album and I recommend it, very strongly, to everybody.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1487334)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2015 | Review Permalink

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