Ken's Novel - The Guide

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Big Sky Music, dist. by Musea Records
Catalog Number: 5B4MM
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:21:00

Belgium's Ken's Novel have a musical style that is one part Rush, one part Styx, with some neo-prog tendencies. I thought of Pallas in particular and there are more than passing sonic similarities, as I think of their own concept album The Sentinel. But, also there is influence from other, similarly-themed, literature. Ken's Novel take the Pallas form and stretch it a bit here and there, expanding upon musical ideas, meaning they are far cry from sounding like Saga (to whom I compared Pallas). There are even moments when I think of Tristan Park, Grey Lady Down, and the like, meaning Ken's Novel will fit in perfectly along side them.

The Guide is, as I said, a concept album. There is much wrapped up in the band's name which bears looking at because it ties in closely with the story of the album. So I'll digress a bit first. Ken's Novel - what does that mean? None of the band members are named Ken, but let's look at the second part of the title first. Well, we all know what a novel is, a story, so that becomes pretty obvious. But the other meaning of novel is new - and in the course of the story (Ken's story), he becomes the new Guide. That might stretch things a bit, since novel in terms of a book is probably the more likely meaning - each track is a chapter. And this is Ken's story, after all.

About the protagonist's name - Ken is somewhat an odd choice for a name - given the names of "heroes" in other forms of literature, especially fantastic, sci-fi like literature. If you think of Tolkien, for example, names were fanciful and lyrical - even something like Frodo. So there must be something more to this "Ken" thing, right? I think there is (with no disrespect meant to the Ken's of the world). Ken, as a word, means knowledge (admittedly it's Scottish and this band aren't, but?). Ken is the new guide, or new knowledge. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it.

This release is good and is quite interesting. It's both well played and well produced - I do quite like this disk. Vocalist Patrick Muermans has voice that is mostly listenable, but there are occasions where it gets a little whiny and nasally. If there is a problem, it is that music all seems to blend together. On the one hand, for a concept album, this gives it consistency; on the other, the tracks themselves don't stand out from each other. Sure, there are phrases and certain melodies that do ? but it's the overall sense of the album that stays with you, rather than any particular refrain. I suppose after repeated and closer listenings, greater distinctions will form.

The playing itself is quite textured and layered, featuring both acoustic and electric moments - which isn't unique to progressive, of course. There is a rather nice acoustic interlude in "Thorny Present."

I find this interesting enough to recommend it, and find myself looking forward to more material from this band.

The Guide (9:02) / Guilty Witnesses (5:31) / Homeland (8:16) / Power and Dignity (7:42) / Be Yourself Again (7:59) / Thorny Present (1:09) / Rumour of War (6:16) / Shielded (4:58) / In Disgrace (1:28) / A Matter of Pride (4:58)

Patrick Muermans - lead and backing vocals, drums and keyboard programming
Eric Vanderbemden - acoustic and electric guitars
Bernard Piette - keyboards
Geoffrey Leontiev - drums, percussion, and keyboard programming
Jacky Giglio - backing vocals
Daphn? Legrand - backing vocals
Marcellin Williquet - bass
Fran?ois Gaube - keyboards (10)
Ireneusz Grabowski - violin (3)
Alain Vael - guitars (9)

The Guide (1999)
Domain Of Oblivion (demo CDR) (2002)
Domain Of Oblivion (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin BE

Added: February 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1343
Language: english


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