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Kayak - Close to the Fire CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.74 | 110 ratings

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4 stars I was really happy by the time this album was released. KAYAK is back! Yeah ..! As I understand from the sleeve of KAYAK "Singles" there was a statement that said the group was disbanded for good in early 1982, shortly after the release of "Eyewitness" live recording album. I thought that the KAYAK "Singles" issued in 1999 remark the fact that the band would never return to studio anymore. And I never tracked the band anymore unless noticing that Ton Scherpenzeel doing a lot of work to strengthen CAMEL. The first news about the return of KAYAK to studio came to me through prog mates when we were active in a local classic rock FM radio. I was actually skeptical with the return of the band since I was fully aware that they became very old.

I proved to be wrong when I purchased the CD in local record store, Duta Suara - Jakarta, sometime in 2000. The first track blew my mind at first spin! I thought Kayak was much more prog in this new recording than their previous albums. The founding fathers of the band: Ton Scherpenzeel, Pim Koopman and Max Werner are back in this new album. Aha .. what can you expect if all the masterminds reunite to craft a new album! The line-up includes Bert Veldkamp, bass player that joined the band since 1975, Rob Winter (guitar, backing vox) and other special guests (including Andy LATIMER of CAMEL).

Close to the Fire - What a great decision to put this wonderful title track as the album opening tune. As I told you, this track blew my mind at first spin of the CD. It even beyond my expectation as I thought with the age of Kayak members, they would tend to write mellow tracks. But this tune proves the other way around. It's not a straight forward rock and also it's not a mellow poppy track. It starts off with a cloudy and rainy nuances followed with a spacey keyboard in a very nice ambient accentuated by a great flute work by ANNET VISSER. The voice enters the music in a slow / mid tempo to open the tune. It then flows to a flute work that plays as a beautiful transition to bring the music into crescendos in an upbeat tempo. The inclusion of flute has really enriched the textures and nuances of the song. Oh my God . this is a wonderfully crafted song, constructed with (I think) meticulous details. In approx minute 4:50 there is a wonderful transition exploring the work of flute (augmented with keyboard) in classical style. This then continued with a short keyboard solo. Well, it is probably the most prog of any Kayak song that has ever been produced since their inception. It's a powerfully written track combining a rather complex arrangement with excellent (and memorable!) melody. It's an accessible prog tune. Try it yourself. Am sure you would agree with me. I also play this track very loud. It's my favorite track.

When Hearts Grow Old - It's a short track with a sad nuance. The classical piano at the opening followed by howling guitar is really good opening melody. This track reminds me to the classic tracks of Kayak. The melody is very strong. I enjoy the combination Werner's voice, classical piano and guitar fills. For those who like Kayak's hit "Ruthless Queen" would love this track. It shares similar vein, I think. Only shorter.

Dream Child - It's a ballad song with a nice guitar fills that accompany voice line. The music flows nicely from beginning to end with the addition of backing vocals, accentuated with percussion work and vibraphone. Drum is not played dynamically here - because of the nature of the tune. Again, it's a melodic track.

Frozen Flame - This track has brought us into more enjoyment of melodic music. Opened with an ambient and spacey keyboard sound accentuated with guitar fills. Oh, what a beautiful melody it is when Werner starts to sing augmented with vibraphone-like sound (probably produced through keyboard). The long sustain guitar work makes me even better with the music even until the voice line back on track. Nothing more I can say than recommending yourself to enjoy this excellent track. The guitar solo is really killing me!

Forever - It starts with a combination of guitar and piano followed with a voice line with backing vocals. The music turns into a happy mood - it reminds me to the musical nuance of Kayak "Merlin" album. The song is probably pop but it has some "heavy" elements with classical music influence.

World Aparts - I don't actually like the opening choir "Face to face / eye to eye .etc" at first listen. But, when I follow the music afterwards, it's an interesting and enjoyable track. Especially, I like the electric guitar work that is played softly combined with a piano touch. Melody wise, it's a nice tune. Lyrically, it's a sad song about relationship.

Crusader - It's a straight forward pop rock song exploring more on rhythm section of guitar and keyboard. It's probably the flute work that makes this track attractive - it creates classical nuance during interlude and at background of voice line. Two Wrongs (don't make a right) - It's even more pop rock than previous track. The interesting thing that I observe on this track is that the voice of of Werner that is very close to his 70's voice. One thing that I don't think it's nice to enjoy is the inclusion of brass section. I don't get used to listening Kayak music with brass section. It's my personal taste, of course. I don't enjoy this track. Somehow, it reminds me to GENESIS when they started using horn section in "abacab" album.

Anybody's Child - This one brings back the classic style of Kayak music. It starts in classical style with great piano work and powerful voice. It's a mellow and nice track. The musical texture is accentuated with orchestration. Again, the electric guitar plays critical role during interlude. Excellent composition with excellent melody.

Here Today - It's a nice track with piano and melodic voice line. Keyboard work at background creates a symphonic nuance. It reminds me to a mellow track "Ninianne" of Merlin album or "Life of Gold". It's an enjoyable and accessible track. Just a Matter of Time - It's a straight pop ballad song that I don't really enjoy. It's too boring for my personal taste. It's weak in composition. The band should drop this track from this album. It's kind like "loose" in connection with others. Full Circle - It opens with an ambient keyboard exploration that produces nice melody. It sets the right tone for vocal to enter the opening part. At the end of voice line the music turns in a marching style like a music for war with traditional music influence. [I think it's the kind of Scotland music?]. This part is really excellent, complex in nature and uplifting mood - demonstrating violin and cello works. The keyboard / organ work is also wonderful, backed with orchestration. The music turns quiet and it continues with a percussion work and keyboard solo. Andy Latimer plays guitar in this track but it's not that obvious that I can hear.

Ruthless Queen - It's the band's classic track rerecorded for this album with different voice quality with almost the same arrangement. Nothing worthy of review, I think.

Well, it's great to see the guys are back. Musically, this album is wonderful - it has a powerful songwriting. Short after this release, the band launched a double CD live recording album "Chance of a LiveTime" which is also good. Unfortunately their follow- up "Night Vision" album is not as strong (see my previous review of the album, in this page) as "Close To The Fire". The band than revitalized with another strong album "Merlin - The Bard Unseen". As for this album, I have no doubt to recommend you to purchase this CD. Highly recommended. Keep on progging! Progressively Yours, GW - Indonesia.

Gatot | 4/5 |


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