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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kinetic Element - Travelog

This amazing band from Richmond, Virginia in which they formed back in 2006 by performing music for keyboardist Mike Visaggio’s solo album, Starship Universe, has finally brought a lot of joy in my ears and whilst this is my first time listening to their music, Kinetic Element brings potential and beauty in their sound. With the elements of Symphonic Progressive Rock in the footsteps between Genesis, Yes, and ELP, their new album Travelog released this year on the Melodic Revolution Records label and follow up to their 2009 debut, Powered by Light, it’s storytelling at its finest as if it’s set during the medieval and renaissance-era.

Alongside Mike Visaggio as a keyboardist, the band also considers Tod Russell on Guitar and Triangle, Michael Murray on Drums, Whistling, and Percussion and Mark Tupko who replaces Len Dupika on Bass. There are three guest vocalists on the album that include Dimetrius LaFavors of Odin’s Court, Michelle Schrotz of Brave, and Mike Florio of the Mass Dream Project.

The tracks are clocked in between 10, 17 and 20-minutes long that make it as I’ve mentioned earlier in the introduction, very much a story-telling adventure on the compositions written by Mike Visaggio and Tod Russell. The 20-minute opener, War Song starts off with an Organ and Bass improvisation melody followed by the drums coming in with the ambient/atmospheric introduction throwing into the blender that resembles the essence between Triumvirat meets Styx’s The Grand Illusion-era before Dimetrius LaFavours comes in on the vocals.

I’ll admit, his voice is not bad. And even though I’m not crazy about it, he can hit those notes very well and nails the song perfectly and his voice resembles at times an earlier version of Tommy Shaw as if it was a continuation of Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man). Kinetic Element show a softer side into their touches of classical yet elegant beauty from the nylon strings into the cooling breeze for a relaxation of the title track. Tod carries the essence between Mason Williams, John Williams, and Steve Howe on this track.

He shows a lot of his inspirations for the elements between the compositions and shows it very well before he moves into the acoustic guitar styles of Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett. But then the group head back into the orchestral rock voyages with Into the Lair. It starts off with heavy rhythm guitar, mellotron, vocalizations, and lively drums that starts in the styles of the score to the 1999 film, The Virgin Suicides before it moves in a bright-like essence with Organs, Guitar, Synths, and Drums filling in the void as Michelle takes on the vocals as she shines through on the piece that reminiscences between French duo Air, Yes, and Kayak.

Mike Florio of the Mass Dream Project comes into the picture with the breathtaking essence with Her. It begins with Visaggio’s Piano concerto in the styles of Tony Banks before it heads into the dreamy landscapes that keeps it flowing into Rock Progressivo Italiano sound from Locanda Delle Fate and the energy of Van Der Graaf Generator, but with the lyrical surroundings from Peter Hammill’s roots. 

The album closes with Vision of a New Dawn. This shows Kinetic Element at their best. Going from a different melodic time signature between Guitar and Bass before the solos increase to the level from Todd Russell as he extends his virtuosity before LaFavors vocals bring a chance to see a new day and a new beginning to see where the road will go next for a sun rising momentum. 

And then the last 7-minutes is Mike going into a brilliant concerto on his keyboards to pay tribute to Rick Wakeman as if he was writing a sequel to the King Arthur story that makes it powerful, epic, and raw. I really had a blast listening to Travelog. And this is my eighth time listening to their second album. I have to admit I’m not crazy about Kinetic Element, but they really have brought a lot of potential for me on my introduction of their music with their second album. 

The Progressive Rock genre is still growing strong and its flame will never go out. This here, is Kinetic Element’s finest hour. So if you love Kayak, Styx, Yes, ELP, Genesis, and Triumvirat, then check out Travelog.

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