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

BEFORE BECAME AFTER

Proto-Kaw

 

Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 140 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Before Became After" serves a proper Proto-Kaw comeback album (sorry for the cacophony!!), while actually being their first official recording. The praise received by the "Early Recordings" album encouraged most survivors from the 71-73 era (former pianist/saxophonist Don Montre passed away years ago) to rejoin forces and make this album. Ever-ready writer Livgren rescued some old songs and wrote some new ones to fulfill this repertoire. Let me say that this is one of the most notable prog recordings of 2004, because in so many ways allows the band to show the world that they pass the test of time as performers: new bassist Craig Kew complements Schulz's drumming efficiently in the context of a well-oiled rhythm section. The sound production is more meticulous than in their previous CD, which means that the band could work further on both the arrangements and instrumentation of all songs; a minus that came from that was the diminishing of the raw quality that made the "Early Recordings" so special, but again, this is a refurbished band that is capable of maintaining their original essence and musical purpose while incorporating the advantages of contemporary production technology in order to shape up their sound. The use of digital synths is not overbearing, indeed, but a strategy to build well-crafted orchestrations that serve to enrich the dramatic potential of the most ambitious compositions (tracks 1, 7 & 10) or the emotional drive of others (2 & 5), always creating perfect interplays for Wright's Hammond licks: in this aspect, Proto-Kaw manages to sound a bit like the popular Kansas that kicked off in 1973, since the psychedelic facet is less prominent and leaves room for the development of the symphonic prog leaning. While it is good to notice a major presence of Livgren's guitar parts, it is certainly a pity that Bolton's sax parts are not as prominent as they perhaps might have been, since the featured synth orchestrations seem to block out somewhat the power of brass. On the other hand, his flute parts are more noticeable, and boy are they beautiful and evolving - the flute parts in 'Axolotl' and the mysteriously exotic 'Leaven' seem literally to fly in the sky, helping these songs to lift off towards eerie musical heights. Speaking of 'Leaven', it's amazing how a song that contains so many section in it can stand so cohesive all along the way: a bonus point for its Eastern Gong-meets-Santana exciting climax. Meredith also manages to prove that his vocal skills are still outstanding. The jazz colours of 'Quantum Leapfrog' and the R'n'B punch of 'Greensburg, Glickstein.' and 'Occasion of Your Honest Dreaming' let some fresh air of happy mood in, relieving the listener momentarily from the overwhelming weight of the overall solemn reflectiveness. My personal favourite numbers are 'Alt. More Worlds than Known', the exotic-driven 'Leaven', 'Axolotl', and last but not least, the breathtaking symphonic suite 'Theophany', which incarnates an amazing emotional pinnacle for the album: yet, the album as a whole unit is incredible in its integral magnificence.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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