For any Background Magazine readers still reflecting on their 2017 “Best of” list, here's a shout-out for Germany's finest, Karibow, who know how to pack a prog punch in From Here To The Impossible.
At the helm is charismatic frontman Oliver Rüsing who assembled an all-star cast to bring to life an intriguing, interlinked canon of songs, all of which centre on the internal human struggle of fears, hopes and dreams. That cast includes Jim Gilmour (Saga) on keyboards, Sean Timms (Southern Empire and Unitopia) on piano, vocals and saxophone, Daniel Lopresto (Southern Empire), Mark Trueack (Unitopia and UPF) on vocals, Marek Arnold (UPF, Damenek) on soprano saxophone, flute, piano and keyboards, and Monique van der Kolk (Harvest) on vocals.
The stentorian tones of a narrator are an effective link to these stories. It is with him that the story begins with Here after which a powerful drums and synths introduction raises the curtain on a huge call to arms, complete with impassioned vocals and heavy duty guitars.
My Time Of Your Life introduces distant voices, like the voices of your mind into a melodic song that combines a sense of urgency with a wall of sound, all happening within a driving solid rhythm.
Back comes the narrator to remind us to “Cherish your passion” in Passion, a slower song with the sound of shattering glass and some interesting musical variations on a single theme.
The acoustically-driven Never Last is more ballad-like and features a stunning saxophone break from Arnold before van der Kolk brings it to a close with a moving spoken passage.
Van der Kolk is back in Lost Peace, another emotional song, her vocals acting as a great counterpart to the male voice and a huge instrumental sequence in which keyboards, guitar and drums all play their part. She also plays an integral role in A Crescent Man where gorgeous echo-like voices and a driving rhythm abound. A very clever change of pace then takes it to another place entirely.
The church-like Requiem offers a mournful interlude before Inside You, a gorgeous melodic love song that includes one of the album's finest guitar passages.
A System Of A Dream is possibly the strongest of all the songs both melodically and lyrically, but also contains some fabulous synth effects leading into a slightly manic ending.
Changing the vibe yet again, Black Air is deeply atmospheric, lifted by some fine saxophone playing within its instrumental sections and The Impossible brings it all to a passionate end, Truack providing the vocals here.
If you want to check it out, don't leave it too long as Karibow are about to release their 20th anniversary album, The Unchosen. Let's hope for some more of this mood music within it.
**** Alison Reijman
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