I have to be honest. It has taken me a long time to review Travelog. The second album made by the US outfit Kinetic Element. The follow up to their debut Powered By Light (2009). If I had reviewed on my first listen the outcome would be totally different to what I am about to write. On the first listen I hated it. It seemed as if it was trying to be old school prog and I was just not in the mood for it. But there was a nagging thought inside me that said I must be missing something. And so I played it again......and again....and again and each time something new shone out from each subsequent play. I mean....I should have liked it from the start. It is after all mixed by two of my favourite musicians.....Steve Babb and Fred Schendel from Glass Hammer, but I didn't find that out until after three or four plays. Which is interesting because if I had known from the start it may have clouded my judgement. But now after all these listens and all this time I have to say that this album has so much to like about it.
War Song kicks it all off. A twenty minute piece about the choices of a woman or your country. There is lots of instrumental interplay and the sound of the Hammond organ carries the listener back in time to the early seventies. This is a strong musical instrumental start and its not until later in the song that the vocal comes in. I think it may have been the vocals that put me off on my first listen but now they seem apt for the type of music this band produce. This is prog all right. But there is more. There is psychedelia thrown into the mix with a bit of jazz and blues rock for good measure. Travelog was the one track on the album that I always felt was the weakest but is sung in heartfelt honesty as the proclaim America is beautiful.
The next track is called Into The Lair and throws up a major surprise. There is a new voice here. A female voice and it is wonderful. It has the same characteristics as Suzy Bogdanowicz from Glass Hammer and it belongs to Michele Loose Schrotz. It turns out that all the singers are guests on the album but if I had been producing this album I would have used her all the way through. She really adds something special to the song.
After a song which pertains to be a love song but reveals itself a something more sinister we have an eighteen minute closer and as much an epic as the opener. This album took some time to grow on me but grow it did and I find myself going back to it still. Mike Viaggio ( keys ) Michael Murray (drums) Todd Russell (guitars ) and Mark Tuko (bass ) make up the band and created a retro sound that has the hall marks of yesteryear but is still relevant for today's' prog music enthusiast.
****+ Dave Smith
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