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Proto-Kaw - Before Became After CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 150 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars One of the surprise packages of Contemporary Christian Prog.

I bought this album because I received a gift certificate for a Christian store and simply ordered this as I knew Christian prog could be very good (especially Neal Morse). I had no idea this was an incarnation of early Kansas, one of the great bands of the 70s that have released excellent material from Leftoverture and The Point of Know Return and of course their smash blockbuster Carry On Wayward Son. Proto-kaw's Before Became After is an absolute delight from beginning to end - full on progressive with some of the best instrumental sections you will hear.

It begins with the wonderful 7 minute gem "Alt. More Worlds than Known". It features some emotive, reflective lyrics about the born again experience and the music focuses on bristling Hammond mixed with crunching guitar riffs. The bass line is a jazz inspired motif from Kew. Meredith's vocals are crystal clear and at times mesmirising.

"Words of Honor" is a similar style to the melancholy Neal Morse. A quiet, heartfelt song that has a catchy melody. Livgren has a beautiful acoustic style, very easy to listen to. Bolton adds a beautiful flute sound to the timbre.

"Leaven" begins with a majestic crescendo instrumental section. Livgren shines on keyboards, guitars, and drums on this track and other band members compliment this with incredible musical virtuosity. Livgren's guitar riff is as off kilter as any typical prog rhythm, fractured and bombastic, similar to Fripp or Hackett from the 70s. Listen to it now on the Progarchives. It is one of the best tracks on the CD. There are a lot of spoken words to add to the overall effect. It changes course in tempo and metrical patterns with delicious Emerson style Hammond. Sheer bliss.

"Axolotl" has a violin sound using keyboards and is a nice change in pace.

"Quantum Leapfrog" is laced with soaring saxophone and a killer bass riff. A very good track.

"Greenburg, Glickstein, Charles, David, Smith and Jones" is a curio that really grew on me. At first I was not sure but it stuck in my head, particularly the repeated title. The Hammond crashes down with furiosity and feels like Emerson and his infamous knife. It actually was first performed by the psychedelic 60s band The Cryan' Shames, but Proto- kaw really give this a workout and the result is more than satisfying.

"Gloriana" sounds like the glory days of Kansas. It continues for 9 mins and never lets up the progressive feel. I was reminded of early Camel or Caravan for some reason, and it features a very long instrumental section that is simply brilliantly played.

Other tracks include "Occasion of Your Honest Dreaming" which has some nice lyrics about serenity or indeed sincerity of living life to the fullest; and "Heavenly Man", a heavy guitar track that grows on you after a few listens.

The finale is the multi movement suite "Theophany" that runs for about 12 minutes with some excellent instrumental work from the band. The time signature changes are exquisite, ranging from 4/4 to 7/8 and beyond. In fact most of it feels like jazz improv or jazz fusion with eclectic stoccato riffs and wild tempos. It is perhaps the best track on the album. It feels at times like a church service and at other times like a huge wall of sound of keyboards and guitar - it absolutely rocks. The lyrics are about the importance of giving your life to Jesus, a message I can readily relate to, though this may feel like a sermon for some listeners. Do not let any of the lyrics put you off though, because the music and subtlety in the lyrics mix beautifully to make this one of the best prog rock albums of 2004.

I thoroughly recommend it and hope Proto-Kaw continue to produce this brand of music.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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