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Kansas - Leftoverture CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.22 | 1095 ratings

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4 stars Lush, bombastic, uniquely 'murican: 8/10

KANSAS was one of the first bands in America to attempt to emulate the roaring (and by their time decadent) European prog and to succeed doing so without sounding like a ripoff. They were able to not only drain from the intercontinental musical fountain but also to amalgamate that with American influences, ultimately crafting a style particular to them. With that being said, KANSAS is an American prog band first and foremost, even with its rather unorthodox leanings.

In LEFTOVERTURE the band crystallizes its musical archetype: [b]focus on melody[/b]. The guitars, the vocals, the synthesizers, the piano or the violins; they are all directed at creating a lush, immersive environment, usually having little complexity (for prog standards at least). Here is where they begin to schism with European prog (which is much more technical-focused, even the Symphonic types). Two other characteristics are also noteworthy: KANSAS ' approach on violin with a cheerful tone and as an accompaniment - rather than as a classically-imbued, lead instrument, typical on British prog - and their hard rocking stance (akin to [b]Rush[/b]). Altogether, these three factors cement KANSAS ' uniqueness.

Something that really deserves attention are the moments KANSAS signals to have quite a lot of potential to build much, MUCH more ambitious musical moments than just their typical "melodism". Specifically for that matter three songs deserve praise: [b]Carry on my Wayward Son[/b], which needs no introduction; [b]Miracles out of Nowhere[/b], which doesn't go overly passionate (as, sometimes, the band does) and culminates in an explosive mixture of their archetypal melody with a dynamic instrumental jam, unexpectedly enjoyable; and the(ir) polyphonic [b]Magnum Opus[/b]. Indeed deserving its name, it's an almost entirely instrumental track with spectacular technicality, complexity, and virtuosity akin to top-notch European prog; unrelentingly eclectic, vivid and creative. It's no stretch to claim that, during those eight minutes, KANSAS becomes the American GENTLE GIANT.

I'm not much of a fan of melodic stuff so I expected KANSAS not to appease me, yet surprisingly they did. I admit that sometimes they feel exceedingly melodic and rather generic, but, generally, their (implicitly bluesy) hard rock feels fresh when combined with lush synthesizers. Combine that with the details described in the last paragraph, and you can understand why LEFTOVERTURE is quite a great album.

Luqueasaur | 4/5 |


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