Opening in epic style with the title track, MOnuMENTO is the latest album from Karibow. Covering a multitude of styles from the progressive palette, it is entertaining, and not as derivative as I was expecting. Why the low expectations? At their appearance at Summer’s End in 2017 I was not gripped by the performance, feeling that it was music firmly locked in the ’80s. Perhaps ill health, lack of sleep and, by the time Karibow took the stage, a little ear fatigue were factors and I take my earlier thoughts back – this is far better than that, though still retains the degree of bombast that I expect from bands from a certain European country. But everything changes, including perceptions.
Style wise, the music is closer to that of Unitopia (and their offspring UPF), an amalgamation of ideas and music from a large pool of musicians. It manages to rather nicely hang onto its rock roots whilst subscribing to a more pop element; and I like it. After the epic start comes the jangly U2-like The Raining Silence, building quickly into a more indie rock style; the best of both worlds? I could list the elements that make up the whole, drawing inspiration from both old and new, but better just to enjoy. Yes, there is ’80s Yes and Asia, but that does not make it a nostalgia fest.
Track three and the introduction of a lighter touch and the voice of Hayley Griffith’s (ex-Karnataka) on District of Dignity. It does not stand still, and the alumni who perform – also including Michel St-Pere (Mystery), John Young (Lifesigns), Antony Kalugin (Karfagen) – do so without that skip button urge. The Flood changes direction yet again, as often rivers in spate will. This really is an album with a lot going on and much to like, and though it does occasionally sound familiar I find that those similarities are quickly brushed aside. It is busy, in the way that someone like Gandalf’s Fist are busy, borrowing but then stamping their own trademark upon the music; as it should be.
The brainchild of Oliver Rüssing, this is effectively a double album, an excellent piece of work with some beautiful instrumental touches from his co-conspirators. Vocally it’s like those already stated, plus the superb Encircled; best heard without interruptions, something that seldom happens. Now there are 19 tracks here and I could romp through giving a synopsis of each. Yes, it probably does lean more to the commercial side of AOR, but I can honestly say it has been great to drive around with, despite the limitations that a MP3 will bring. Spirits of Water is my first loved track, reminding me of Greek restaurants, warm summer evenings, and the Greek rock played but sadly unheard of outside of the Hellenic lands. Great hammer dulcimer in some passages.
Seeker Of Dawn is another with an epic feel, though watch those high notes – bit of wobble on a couple (given that my days of high notes have passed I should keep schtum). Very much in the realms of rock, or maybe fast Marillion with some lovely blues harp in the piece, I like the way this album can really blur those unnecessary lines between genres. Stepping back to District Of Dignity (Toto touch?), the contrasts are thick, fast, and in fairness wonderful, blended Hayley offering a reigned in version of her range to great effect.
Now, as Shakespeare might say, “There’s the Rub” as MOnuMENTO is an album of two halves, it is more progressive, symphonic, and do I prefer part one to part two? I like them both very much. From Prelude To A Fairy Tale, there are elementals, spirits and mythical folk, touching on Yes ground and soundwise Big Big Train. Touching The Borderline even has a touch of latter-day Genesis about it, with Ray Wilson’s alter-ego Stiltskin thrown in for good measure.
Great to hear the distinctive Joe Cairney on Intruder, I was introduced to Comedy of Errors last year and their music has been a source of delight. Even if I don’t break down their individual contributions, all have delivered with Herr Rüsing on producing this album. My misgivings from a remembered fevered brow misplaced, a truly delightful album.
You could easily listen to this as two albums, but the 1 hour 55-minute running time is certainly value for money. The musicians are first class, the music is certainly better than much new I have heard on Planet Rock in the car. All the music and lyrics are written by Oliver as he lives his rock dream, and for me at least more entertaining than some of the genre elite. His contributors have given their all, making for a seamless album, it is quite difficult to identify individual motifs, but the prog cognoscenti work as they often do towards a common goal of excellent entertainment. I suspect that the CD is even more dynamic than the MP3s I’m listening to, so I may seek this out after a few more muggings.
I’ll try not to have flu next time I see Karibow live, but until then, MOnuMENTO is a recommended purchase.
CD 1: Moments
01. MOnuMENTO (11:41)
02. The Raining Silence (4:57)
03. District Of Dignity (6:53)
04. The Flood (6:43)
05. Spirits On The Water (7:20)
06. Private Babylon (6:08)
07. Red Feathers (4:14)
08. Seeker Of Dawn (8:11)
09. Elay (12:11)
Time – 68:18
CD 2 – Monuments
I. A FAIRY TALE (26:02)
– 01. Part I: Prelude To A Fairy Tale (2:24)
– 02. Part II: Lost Is All I Am (7:24)
– 03. Part III: Intruder (2:18)
– 04. Part IV: Touching The Borderline (3:41)
– 05. Part V: The Lion And The Lamb (2:25)
– 06. Part VI: Keeper Of Fairy Blood (7:50)
II. CRUSADER (20:22)
– 07. Part I: Prelude To A Crusade (3:14)
– 08. Part II: The Lonely Way (8:19)
– 09. Part III: A New World (6:40)
– 10. Part IV: Monument Of Life (2:09)
Total Time – 124:44
Joe Cairney – Vocals
Hayley Griffiths – Vocals
Antony Kalugin – Keyboards
Roland Körner – Blues Harp
Nic Koray – Vocals
Oliver Rüsing – Vocals, Guitars, Drums & Percussion, Bass, Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Orchestral Arrangement, Toys
Guido Seifert – Keyboards
Michel St-Père – Guitar
Simone Stiers – Vocals
John Young – Keyboards
Record Label: Rockwerk Records
Country of Origin: Germany
Date Of Release 15th November 2018