K2 - Book Of The Dead

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Progrock Records
Catalog Number: PRR160
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:40:00

Three things will strike you immediately by The Book Of The Dead: one, that the late Shaun Guerin still sounded uncannily like Peter Gabriel on a project that didn't necessarily require him to do so (that is, the theme would work sounding like Genesis or not); two - that this is a supergroup situation, as you've got Alan Holdsworth on guitar and Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard) on piano and Moog, project head Ken Jaquess (Atlantis) on bass, keys, & 10-string acoustic guitar, Doug Sanborn on drums, Yvette Devereaux on violin and guest John Miner on additional guitar; and three - that when all is said and done, this is a pretty darn good release.

The Book Of The Dead is a concept album about the Egyptian Book Of The Dead... but you probably guessed that already from the artwork and the title (if not the other reviews that appear here already). Yes, Guerin sounds like Gabriel, phrases lines in a Gabriel-like matter, and the music itself is often Genesis-like... but not to the point of being derivative. I mean, aside from some broad generalities, there were few times where a specific Genesis piece came to mind, or even a specific album... But... I'd say dashes of "Supper's Ready" can be heard -- vocally, mind. Don't look for another permutation of "Apocalypse In 9/8" or anything. Guerin's performance is understated and low key and reminscient of the more pastoral aspects of early Genesis. Interestingly, there are times where Guerin sounds like Collins, and also times where it's a if Guerin-as-Gabriel is singing in harmony with either Guerin as Collins or someone else is singing backing vocals and sounds like Collins.

Holdsworth's guitar playing here is very measured, direct and planned out. Sure, there's soloing, but it doesn't have a free-form, caught in the moment kind of feel. Sometimes it does, but not always. That isn't to say they sound calculated or anything, just that they don't have a ... improvised feel to them. They come on, make their statement, and then carry on, but that doesn't mean either that they are without passion or feeling. Oh, there's lots of that.

The longest piece is the 23-plus minute epic "Chapter 1: Infinite Voyage" which begins with spacey keyboards; tinkly, harp-like piano rolls; light guitar accents, before a tight and controlled lead guitar comes soaring in. The sound is classic in that the phrases that come singing out have that instant cool and memorable factor. And the addition of violin adds another warm, equally controlled element to complement the guitar. For contrast, these sections give way to beds of keyboards and shimmering percussion washes. This piece really comes in movements, but they aren't marked as such -- about halfway through, drums come up in the mix, tapping out a slow-groove beat over an extended guitar solo ... and after a restatement of the initial theme, we get a more lively, marching passage with throbbing keyboards, bass and percussion... and then there's that Moog solo that George mentions in his review (yes, it does sound like "me" repeated very fast... I'd say, parpy and shrill). The piece heads towards the conclusion with a deep and throaty but moody bass solo, moves closer with another guitar solo, and ends as it began in a light and lyrical manner with piano and keys. Movements in the second half of this piece are later restated in "Chapter 5: Cloak Of Antiquity."

"Chapter 2: Mirror To The Spirits" reminds me of Glass Hammer, circa Lex Rex, a swirling sea of keys under which can be heard subtle bass and drum accents and over which, Guerin's vocals. Holdsworth plays an elegant and exalted guitar solo here. "Chapter 3: The Edge Of Light" begins as a happy, poppy tune with searing violin work from Devereaux, but then throttles back to a more mid-tempo pace putting parpy keys at the front. There's more Moog-ness from Okumoto here, and Devereaux's violin is ever-present. "Chapter 4: Aten (Window Of Appearances)" is a moody bass solo over atmospheric keys... though I love a good bass solo this is one where you do find yourself waiting for something to happen...

Overall, I really like this. While I like Guerin's vocal performance, I'm not totally enthralled with it. But, I do very much like Holdsworth guitar playing, Devereaux's violin, many of the keyboard textures from Okumoto, and the drumming of Sanborn. And does get some high marks from me. Seek this one out; it sold out once, it could easily do so again.

Chatper 1: Infinite Voyage (23:25) / Chapter 2: Mirror To The Spirits (6:54) / Chapter 3: The Edge Of Light (7:03) / Chapter 4: Aten (Window Of Appearences) (3:22) / Chatper 5: Cloak Of Antiquity (5:54)

Ken Jaquess - bass, keyboards & 10 string acoustic guitar
Yvette Devereaux ? violin
Shaun Guerin - vocals
Allan Holdsworth ? guitar
Ryo Okumoto - piano, Moog
Doug Sanborn - drums
John Miner - additional guitar

Book Of The Dead (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 15th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.kenjaquess.com/
Hits: 1437
Language: english


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