Kayak - Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man

Year of Release: 2005
Label: SMH Recordings
Catalog Number: SMHR 2515
Format: CD
Total Time: 111:07:00

The history of Kayak dates back to 1967 and has experienced some roaring times. After the release of the album Eyewitness in 1981, it seemed the story of Kayak would definitely end and one of the best progressive rock bands of the Netherlands was no more. After some 19 years, the Dutch band De Kast invited the members of Kayak, of which they had been long time fans of, for a one time performance on a TV show. This was the start for the resurrection of the band.

In 2005, after the huge success of Merlin - Bard Of The Unseen, Kayak has finished their 14th album. Nostradamus follows the path of Merlin and once again is a beautiful rock opera. But in every aspect Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man, is the "magnum opus" of the band, is it is a grander scale project. The album comes on two silver discs, both clocking almost one hour. In addition, the cast has been expanded with known and less known names.

The most important name undoubtedly is Edward Reekers, who returns after a long absence to the nest. But also former De Kast singer Syb Van Der Ploeg (a total stranger in prog circles, but known in Dutch pop music), sings along and that is a pleasant surprise, as his voice fits perfect in the whole and the fact he sings in English, also works very well. Cindy Oudshoorn, also present on Merlin, is present here. And Monique Van Der Ster, who sang the live parts of Cindy Oudshoorn on Merlin at several live shows, is now a full member of the cast.

The trinity Scherpenzeel-Koopmans-Linders once again prove they belong to the top of songwriting, as Nostradamus is a breathtakingly beautiful album. It is a complete concept story, which is brought in 36 songs. These vary in length from 37 seconds to 5 minutes and 31 seconds, so you have to listen to it as a whole. Only then you will find all songs flow naturally over into the next.

The music contains many elements and almost literally floats out of your speakers. Some moments it is almost pop music, sometimes folk-like and, if you listen well to "The Wandering Years," you can dance an English Waltz on that song. Yet it all fits perfectly, making this album even more interesting to listen to. Despite the two guitarists in the band, the guitar parts are quiet and subtle on the album, so don't expect really heavy songs or long solos. But the guitars you hear are really beautiful!

What is abundantly present on the album, is the magnificent keyboard play by Ton Scherpenzeel, who may be counted as one of the best keyboard players. From subtle to epic, from spacey to classical, everything is heard on the album. At times I find his play a bit reminiscent of Erik Norlander. In addition, he also plays all the bass guitar parts on the album, and this emphasises how well he and drummer Pim Koopman are of one musical mind, because the rhythm section is pretty tight. Every time I see Koopman playing, he comes on as such a modest man, yet secretly responsible for the backbone of the band!

OK, a few songs that touched me: "The Student" has a more uptempo beat and reminds me of parts of "Freudiana" by Eric Woolfson/Alan Parsons, partly due to the slightly comic undertone, although this by no means sounds misplaced on this album! Or then "Fresh Air, Running Water, Rose Pills," with a fantastic beat by Koopman. This song will make you turn up the volume, as it has a really catchy beat and chorus. "Paga's Paradise" has a poppy synth part, combined with the strong vocals by Monique Van Der Ster, it sounds a bit like a musical. The violin adds a folky edge to it.

This is merely the first disc! Frankly this is amazing from begin to end, as I by no means have said enough about the heavenly singing by Edward Reekers and the many other fantastic songs that are on this first disc.

Disc 2 opens with a bit of an odd song, that stylewise sounds a bit different from the rest. Honestly said, as far as I'm concerned, they could have left this one out, as this sounds really 80s pop like. But, if you play the discs after each other, this feeling leaves quickly and you are back into the beautiful music. Yet the songs on Disc 2 are closer to pop than on the first disc. "The Flying Squadron" is really poppy, but again a song where the guitarists finally get to go loose, at least more than on other songs. More folk-like, in the vein of Mostly Autumn, is "Dance Of Mirrors," with again the nice violin sounds.

Nevertheless, also the second disc works well and has a lot of variety, and the familiar Kayak sound dominates. As a whole, the album breathes a great 70s atmosphere, which maybe a coincidence; as far as I'm concerned a pleasure enhancing one. Although I'm glad Edward Reekers is back with Kayak, I have become a fan of Bert Heerink, who never sounded better than on this fantastic album, so I hope he will remain the lead singer of Kayak!

A song I cannot let go unmentioned, is "The Centuries"! Here the star role is for guitar player Joost Vergoossen, who, accompanied by Koopman on percussion, plays so good on his acoustic guitar, which then flows over into synth leads and those are by virtuoso played electric guitars. Technically this may be the only real "solo" on the album, but then an incredibly good one, which compensates a lot. The song is instrumental and slighty reminiscent of Ravel's "Bolero."

Well, I could go on for hours on this album, which already is in my personal top 3 over 2005. Listening to this album is nothing else than sheer enjoying beautiful music. If you leave this album untouched, you don't know what beautiful and good music is! Merlin was a great album, but Nostradamus exceeds it by far and personally I think that is an amazing achievement. Now we can only hope this album will be followed by again an excellent DVD release, making the story even more clear.

Now we will have to wait what the next topic of Kayak will be, but if it's up to me, they can pluck any known or even unknown figure out of history and turn him/her into a rock opera, as they seem to be very good at this. My opinion: hats of for this magnificent masterpiece.

Disc One: The Secret Study (1:46) / Overture - A Strange And Cryptic Tale (3:03) / Friend Of The Stars 1 (4:17) / Celestial Science (3:50) / The Student (1:22) / Dance Of Death 1 (3:24) / Fresh Air, Running Water, Rose Pills (4:09) / The Monk's Comment 1 (0:43) / Seekers Of Truth 1 (4:14) / Dance Of Death 2 (1:04) / Save My Wife (5:24) / The Monk's Comment 2 (0:30) / Pagan's Paradise (4:23) / The Inquisition (5:31) / The Wandering Years (4:41) / The Monk's Comment 3 (0:48) / If History Was Mine Alone (2:57) / Friend Of The Stars 2 (0:37)

Disc Two: A Man With Remarkable Talents (3:30) / Settle Down (4:21) / The Monk's Comment 4 (0:41) / The Flying Squadron (4:14) / Dance Of Mirrors (3:22) / A Royal Invitation (1:15) / A Cruel Death + The Monk's Comment 5 (3:57) / Tell Me All (3:27) / The Tournament (4:12) / The Golden Cage (2:08) / Seekers Of Truth 2 (2:00) / Living In Two Realities (4:11) / Act Of Despair (4:22) / The Secret Study 2 (1:41) / The Centuries (5:03) / (You Won't Find Me) Alive At Sunrise (3:19) / Friend Of The Stars 3 (1:13) / Epilogue - The Fate Of Man (2:57)

Ton Scherpenzeel - keyboards, bass, accordion, backing vocals
Pim Koopman - drums, backing vocals, kyboards, guitar, percussion, narrator
Bert Heerink - vocals
Rob Vunderink - vocals, guitars
Joost Vergoossen - guitars
Monique van der Ster - vocals, backing vocals
Edward Reekers - vocals, backing vocals, voice-over
Syb van der Ploeg - vocals, backing vocals
Cindy Oudshoorn - vocals, backing vocals
Marjolein Teepen - vocals
Eddy Koopman - percussion
Rens van der Zalm - fiddle
The Nostradamus choir ? vocals

See See The Sun (1973)
Kayak II (1974)
Royal Bed Bouncer (1975)
The Last Encore (1976)
Starlight Dancer (1977, US version)
Phantom Of The Night (1978)
Periscope Life (1980)
Merlin (1981)
Eyewitness (1982/1994)
Close To The Fire (2000)
Chance For A Livetime (2001)
Merlin - The Bard Of The Unseen (2003)
Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man (2CD) (2005)
Excerpts From Nostradamus - The Fate Of Man (1CD) (2005)
KAYAKoustic Live (2007)
Coming Up For Air (2008)
The Anniversary Concert (CD/DVD) (2008)
The Anniversary Box (CD/DVD) (2008)
Letters From Utopia (2009)
Anywhere But Here (2011)
Cleopatra - The Crown Of Isis (2014)
Journey Through Time (2017)
Seventeen (2018)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: July 25th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website: www.kayakonline.info
Hits: 573
Language: english


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