Kopecky - Serpentine Kaleidoscope

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 091
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:00:00

Kopecky are a trio of brothers out of Wisconsin that play a very heavy and very dark brand of instrumental prog rock. Guitars grind and chug (Joe Kopecky), percussion pounds (Paul Kopecky), and there's bass (William Kopecky) that is often felt more than it's heard. Well, the album isn't entirely instrumental, as "I Was Home And I Wept" is a sitar led vocal track, a psychedelic trip into the imaginations of the mind.

For musical comparisons, Kopecky are a bit like Djam Karet at times, only much heavier, most notably in "Smoke Of Her Burning" which is sinewy and slinky, and for a brief moment sounds as if it is going to break out into AC/DC's "Back In Black." Joe's playing here is fluid ... well, honestly, that can be said also of the percussion and bass as well, as the track struts a bit through its four minute length. It seems longer than that, but not like it's too long - there's so much going on that they've compacted it into for minutes seems to defy the law of physics. They also sound a bit like Liquid Tension Experiment in that William's fretless bass uses the same tone colors as that of Tony Levin (though perhaps its an unavoidable characteristic of the instrument). But it is also true that like the now defunct LTE, Kopecky play intricately arranged prog rock, that sometimes has the force and energy of Dream Theater, though it is only wise to compare the two in an abstract sense. I have to say, though, I find the sound of the fretless very cool, both in general and here, though especially here, and especially on "Scorpion."

Actually, everything about this album is cool, as they paint some very interesting, dark textures. There are two tracks that standout. The first is one of the eeriest tracks on the album, "These White Walls," which is the other, uh, vocal track. Where "I Was Home..." was a (perhaps) drug induced hallucination, "These White Walls" suck you into the mind of someone who is losing (or has lost) their mind. It's almost all a cappella except I think there's a keyboard driven drone in the background. Voices whisper the repeated refrain in such a way that they become the walls. Other voices repeat it at a lower pitch - the mind. Of course, guests Chris Djuricic and Kelly Cook provide some of the other voices, including the voice of the demented individual (according to the credits, it's Cook). It's strange, but what came to mind to me was the Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," where the protagonist thinks there is someone living inside her wallpaper. That's simplifying it too much of course as it was a complex work.

The other track is "Wings Of Asphyxia" which is atmospheric as hell - literally, as this as dark as the pits of hell. The first thing we hear are what sound like distant owls or some, other winged creature, hooting in the night, telling us that something is a stir (or that they are astir). A crash (drums), some crystalline, glass-like shards of sound (keys that I can describe no other way, but you've heard the same effect in horror films). Something is coming and you're prepared, firing into the misty darkness of the wood (electrified percussion, that sounds both like lightning and laser fire). Tension is high (a feeling accented by the brief bursts of guitar) ... you fire again and again and again, each time more frantically, your finger stuck on the trigger until the charge is spent. You're alone in this darkness, and then, suddenly, not so alone. You're frozen, paralyzed...caught in asphyxia, while the hellhounds (or some other beasts) have come to tear you to shreds. There is some bit of keyboard or percussion - I can't which, as they and the guitar all happen at the same time - but it sounds like a snarling, vicious beast (a Doberman perhaps) that has clamped on and will not let go. And does not let go...walking away, once you've died, with your bleeding flesh clamped tightly in its mouth.

Like the horror movie we can't turn away from because, as much as we don't want to be frightened, we're thrilled by the feeling of being frightened, so, too, you can't turn away from this album. It is it's very darkness that attracts us, forces us to listen to it over and over again because we're certain that whatever we hear the first time, there's bound to be something else that lies beneath and curiosity won't keep us away. Of course, this couldn't be pulled off by any subpar band - the chops and skills have to be in place for it to work. Kopecky have got the goods a plenty.

The holidays may have come and gone, but it's not to late to still buy yourself a present. Include Serpentine Kaleidoscope on your list.

Magic Room (9:54) / Smoke Of Her Burning (4:14) / I Was Home And I Wept (3:57) / Scorpion (6:14) / These White Walls (3:24) / Bartholomew's Kite (8:04) / Lugosi : 1931 (6:19) / Wings Of Asphyxia (5:47) / Heaven's Black Amnesia (10:27)

Paul Kopecky - drums and percussion
William Kopecky - fretless bass, keyboards, sitar
Joe Kopecky - guitar and vocals

Kopecky (1999)
Serpentine Kaleidoscope (2000)
Orion - A Live Performance (2001)
Sunset Gun (2003)
Blood (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.kopecky.8m.com
Hits: 881
Language: english


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