Kino - Picture

Year of Release: 2005
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 200/SPV 085-40822 C
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:58:00

Super-groups. You know the kind - a few top-notch artists from top-notch bands get together and produce something that will always showcase the participants? excellent musicianship and will always be very marketable, and the music itself is sometimes very good. A recent and relevant example was Transatlantic - relevant because it included Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas, who is also a member of Kino. So how does Kino stack up? Before answering that, it is necessary to provide some background, and set some expectations:

Thomas Weber from InsideOut Music (Germany) started the ball rolling in a conversation with Pete Trewavas about 2 years ago. One thing led to another and John Mitchell from Arena, The Urbane and John Wetton was on board, along with Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree) and John Beck (It Bites, Alan Parsons, John Wetton).

Within the Brit-neo progressive world, this quartet amounts to something of a super-group. But despite the progressive nature of most of these artists? home bands, you?ll need to understand going in that Kino is firstly a rock band, and a secondly a progressive band. Given the credentials of the participants it is inevitable that there will be plenty of prog elements and the music will be inherently intelligent. But Picture is very approachable, and although it is clearly apparent that this music takes stylistic cues from the home-bands of all four members, Kino has openly compared some of the songs to artists like Sting, A-Ha and Cockney Rebel. This is essentially song-oriented rock with songs that range from progressive through AOR and it even has one or two songs that would appeal to a radio station's programming director. The instrumentation, the compositions, the song structures, the execution and the production and mixing are just what you'd expect from a super-group - they are flawless. Some of the songs have that special element that would keep it in your CD rotation for a long time. Other songs are good AOR and include passages that seem almost interchangeable with one another - good, but not necessarily distinctive.

Having said that - there's no question that the 9-minute opening track "Losers' Day Parade" is progressive music in every sense of the word. It runs through a sequence of tempo and mood shifts and doesn't stay still for more than a minute at a time. It's standard neo-prog in places, then it's hard rock, some passages turn it into a whisper-soft angst-ridden thing, there are Gabriel-esque off-the-wall vocals and there's a Beatles-like passage including a the crackling of a scratched LP, and a simple piano line with straightforward but melodic and catchy vocals. John Mitchell describes it as the story of a musician who gets sick of his record company and sabotages the executive's company-car.

Track 9, "Holding On," is probably the second best piece. It starts with pleasant acoustic guitars and orchestral sounding keys, then Mitchell's vocals enter with a sentimental mid-ranged melody and a delivery that is reminiscent of a slightly less refined version of Marillion's Steve Hogarth. It's probably the way he slips comfortably in and out of a soft falsetto. It maintains that emotional quality, and the instrumentals gradually shift pace and build a very full sound, yet all the while that singing maintains the same basic melodic theme and the emotional quality. After 7 minutes it goes full circle and trails off with the opening same guitar and keyboard line. Very satisfying.

It would be unfair to single out any single musician here. Mitchell's guitar work is very good, although his mastery of the instrument is not as evident as it is on recent Arena CDs. Beck's keyboards are present throughout and competently take the lead role in most of the instrumentals. The percussion and bass guitar work are simply excellent yet held back in the mix.

So does Kino stand up to other super-groups? Providing you understand that it's essentially a different genre, then measure for measure, Picture stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Trewevas's Transatlantic. And for the record - unlike most super-groups, this isn't just an interesting side-project. The plans are for Kino to remain a band, in every sense of the word, and they've already started touring.

Losers Day Parade (9:03) / Letting Go (5:25) / Leave a Light On (6:17) / Swimming In Women (5:22) / People (6:07) / All You See (5:08) / Perfect Tense (4:16) / Room For Two (3:43) / Holding On (7:08) / Picture (2:22)

John Beck - keyboards
John Mitchell - guitar, vocals
Chris Maitland - drums
Pete Trewavas - bass

Picture (2005)
Cutting Room Floor (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: February 19th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 1310
Language: english


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