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Ken's Novel


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Ken's Novel The Guide album cover
3.19 | 24 ratings | 4 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chapter 1 - The Guide (9:02)
2. Chapter 2 - Guiltry Witnesses (5:31)
3. Chapter 3 - Homeland (8:16)
4. Chapter 4 - Power and Dignity (7:42)
5. Chapter 5 - Be Yourself Again (7:59)
6. Chapter 6 - Thorny Present (1:09)
7. Chapter 7 - Rumour of War (6:16)
8. Chapter 8 - Shielded? (4:58)
9. Chapter 9 - In Disgrace (1:28)
10. Chapter 10 - A Matter of Pride (4:58)

Total Time 57:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Patrick Muermans / lead and backing vocals, drums & keyboards programming
- Eric Vanderbemden / acoustic and electric guitars
- Bernard Piette / keyboards
- Geoffrey Leontiev / drums, percussions, drums & keyboards programming

- Alain Vael / guitar (9)
- François Gaube / keyboards (10)
- Marcellin Williquet / bass
- Ireneusz Grabowski / violin (3)
- Daphné Legrand / backing vocals
- Jacky Giglio / backing vocals

Releases information

CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4292.AR (2001, Belgium)

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KEN'S NOVEL The Guide ratings distribution

(24 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

KEN'S NOVEL The Guide reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars If you like the hard neo-prog style ("Arena" oriented), this album might well be for you.

The opening number is truely exciting : very strong rhythm, good vocals and lush keyboards. It is a powerful number which should please all the fans of this genre. The highlight of this album. Being a Belgian band, it seems that the singer wants, here and there, to sound as Mario Guccio (from Machiavel). This is obvious during "Guilty Witnesses", an average funky song.

Ken's Novel will bring us back in the heavy sounds during "Homeland". Fortunately, some nice and melodic keys and guitar breaks will smoothe this orientation a bit. The track is very-well balanced but you have to be able to digest these hard moments, otherwise you might well be knocked down or just quit this album after this track.

Some sorts of world music intro for "Power and Dignity". But this song is more pop-oriented; pleasant riff and good chorus are the ingredients here. Maybe a bit too long. With the next track "Be Yourself Again" It seems that "Ken's Novel" does not not really know which direction to choose from : hard or prog ?

So they will again mix both. Even adding some Oriental flavours to it (but it was already the case on previous numbers). Again, the chorus moments are pretty much OK. The finale is totally world music oriented. It is really a strange mix. Catchy at times but noisy and pointless during others. Quite difficult to find a guideline in here.

To confirm this, the next short song is almost pastoral. It is good to help the listener to breathe a bit and it contrasts drammatically with the other songs featured on this album so far. Needless to say that we will be submerged again with the hard mood during "Rumour of War". It reminds me at times the "tribal" rock sound from "Adam & The Ants" (no, I'm not joking. Just listen to the percussions). But while "Adam" was funny and fresh, this song isn't. Inspiration is lacking and at this point, the album sounds too uniform.

Strong percussions again (which is another trade mark for "Ken's Novel") during "Shielded". Another pleasant number, featuring again nice vocals and a solid guitar break. It's probably the best number since "The Guide". Your ears will again be bombarbed again during "In disgrace". Hopefully, only for ninety seconds completely ... disgraceful. The poorest moment.

This album is not bad but nor is it good enough to deserve more than a two star rating. I have listened to it lots of time and I never was charmed in its totality. Some good numbers (three) and a monotonuous tone almost all the way through (even if the closing number breaks again with this sensation but it is just an average ballad).

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I know Ken's Novel for the first time when its song "Homeland" was featured in a compilation CD Un Voyage en Progressif Volume 3 - VARIOUS ARTISTS (LABEL SAMPLERS) from Musea. From then on I tried to know better about the band because I think the music was nice. The line-up of the band is basically very standard neo progressive or symphonic prog bands with five personnel. Homeland was taken from their debut "The Guide" which seems to me like a concept album. In general, the music they play is similar with those from Arena, Pallas, IQ or Pendragon. So, if you love those bands, I belive you will love this as well. The music of Ken's Novel is standard in the structure and style but it has a distinctive aspect, i.e. the guitar is played heavier than typical neo prog bands which usually sound something like Hackett or Rothery.

Conceptually, this album might be quite pretentious in its packaging especially in the way they present the tracks (by chapter, like a novel, really). They open the chapter with a beautiful "The Guide" (9:02). The track starts off with a beach nuance where you can hear the sounds of the nature, like when you sit on the beach. Soft keyboard work enters nicely with the sound of people mumbling and narratives while the keyboard notes play a music like an eastern music. The music enters in neo prog vein driven by pulsating keyboard work and flat drumming work. The vocal line flows in melodic way backed with guitar and keyboard. The guitar riffs remark the change of the beat into more uplifting one with more guitar work. It's a nice music especially with relatively aggressive violin solo in the later part of the song. I am sure neo prog lovers will love this song.

"Guiltry Witnesses" (5:31) is much more uplifting since the opening part with inventive keyboard as well as guitar work. The guitar solo is stunning and it's mixed thinly. Drumwork is a bit annoying, actually, because there are not so many improvisations. There is part where duet vocals is performed with male & female voices followed by great keyboard solo. "Homeland" (8:16) turns the music down with lead vocal sings with strong accentuation while the guitar howls augmented by long sustain keyboards. It's a nice song with excellent violin work and guitar riffs. The guitar solo is stunning and the song contains some hike-ups which makes the music dynamic. I personally enjoy this song.

"Power And Dignity" (7:42) starts with a repetitive keyboard backed by percussion and people chanting in African style. The riff-based music enters nicely augmented by soaring keyboard and percussion when vocal enters. The keyboard solo is nice, really. "Be Yourself Again" (7:59) brings the music in nature again with the sounds of birds like in the jungle, followed by keyboard effects and programming and dynamic drumming (programmed) followed by a straight rocker when the vocal enters. In fact, this is a nice song with dynamic structure and styles. I salute the band on making a lot of variations throughout the song. This song sounds different compared to the others.

"Thorny Present" (1:09) is a very nice bridge using classical guitar and it reminds me to Genesis' "Horizon" only that this is with vocal. "Rumour Of War" (6:16) starts with keyboard effects followed by vocal and drums. The drum then flows dynamically augmented by guitar while keyboard consistently delivers its sound effects. The interlude is filled with guitar solo. "Shielded?" (4:58) explores piano and percussion in a bit of jazzy style. The guitar solo in the middle is backed by percussion and piano. "In Disgrace" (1:28) is a bridge which starts with guitar sound effects followed by vocals in dialogue while electric guitar plays beautifully at background in rocking mode. "A Matter Of Pride" (4:58) starts nicely with acoustic guitar and piano featuring vocal. It's an unplugged song with good sound.

Overall, this is a worth collecting debut album from Ken's Novel. It has good composition and performance with some catchy segments throughout the album. For neo prog lovers, this is probably a recommended album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars KEN'S NOVEL are a Neo-Prog band from Belgium and "The Guide" is their debut released in 1999. This is a concept album and the focus is on the vocals and concept. Interesting that the singer to me sounds a lot like the TILES vocalist.

"The Guide" opens with waves, sea gulls, and a creaking boat.The music kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes. Vocals 2 minutes in and a full sound before 3 minutes. It settles some before 5 minutes and the tempo shifts often the rest of the way. "Guilty Witnesses" has this heavy beat that settles when the vocals arrive with synths. Contrasts continue. Nice guitar after 3 1/2 minutes,synths follow. "Homeland" features these melancholic synths that come and go. Reserved vocals take over with light drums and organ. It kicks in at 2 1/2 minutes. Nice. Love the passionate vocals and the heaviness 3 minutes in. "Power And Dignity" opens with percussion and other sounds. Synths and minor riffs follow with vocals. The tempo continues to change. Chunky bass 6 1/2 minutes in.

"Be Yourself Again" opens with nature sounds and percussion. Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes as it kicks in. The tempo continues to change. "Thorny Present" is a short song of acoustic guitar and reserved vocals. "Rumour Of War" is ok, i'm not a fan of the vocals on the chorus though. "Shielded?" opens with piano and drums, bass and synths follow. The sound gets fuller as vocals arrive after 1 1/2 minutes. Guitar solo a minute later. A Spanish vibe follows then themes are repeated. "In Disgrace" is a short experimental track. "A Matter Of Pride" opens with piano as acoustic guitar and reserved vocals eventually join in. It gets fuller reminding me of TILES. Contrasts continue.

Barely 3 stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars One of the true masterpieces of the Belgian progressive rock scene. One of the most underestimated albums of the progressive rock scene, "The GUIDE" shows all the brilliance of this alas so little known Belgian band KEN'S NOVEL from the Walloon town of Verviers, which already brought forth gr ... (read more)

Report this review (#636305) | Posted by Life Line Project | Sunday, February 19, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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