Karibow - 'Holophinium'

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Karibow - 'Holophinium'

To release one disc of excellent Melodic Prog would be enough for most bands, but to create two simultaneously is just plain showing off.

It's difficult to know exactly what number album 'Holophinium' is for German Proggers Karibow, the band, or more accurately multi-instrumentalist and singer Oliver Rüsing and a collection of collaborators, having worked under various names over a good number of years. This double-disc effort is the fourth in the band's "German Rock & Pop" award-winning return to their Progressive roots, Rüsing flanked by talents no less than Saga's Michael Sadler, Unitopia's Sean Timms, Corvus Stone's Colin Tench and Errorhead's Karsten Stiers.

In an era of many star-studded projects, cast-lists like that don't always ensure top rate results, however, while there's no denying the influence of Timms and Sadler, the strongest impression you get here is that the standards Karibow reach would be remarkably high whether "names" were involved or not. Fusing a penchant for Marillion (both eras), Saga and Toto into a latter day It Bites sound, what Karibow do is Modern Retro Prog with lavish helpings of melodic goodness. You could argue that, in terms of style, 'Holophinium' is far from breaking new ground, however, if one of the genre leaders came up with the seventeen tracks Karibow have here, we'd be hailing them heroes. So let's admit that what this band specialise in is a little derivative and be thankful that they simply do it very, very well.

In essence we have two albums; disc one, subtitled 'The Fragments', leaning heavily into the more melodic, if no less virtuosic, side of the things. 'E.G.O.' is a sprawling epic that fills every second of its ten minutes with hook-laden choruses, ear snagging guitar solos and shimmering melody. 'King' proves this band can head in a more straight-up Pop-Prog direction and still captivate, as the title track adds drama and atmosphere to the mix. Sadler shows up for 'River', the results almost embarrassingly Saga-like and yet, if you like Saga, you'll love it.

Disc two, 'Letter From The White Room', heads in a more overtly Marillion direction. Steve Rothery, often used as guitar touching point, Mark Kelly an influence on the keyboards for the intriguing concept of how astronauts have their world completely changed (some for better, some for worse), by having spent time in space and having seen the planet we all live on from a distance most can only imagine. It's an interesting topic and one used to make much broader comment on the human condition through the pensive 'Walk On Water', the subtle brightness of 'Orbital Spirits' and the jaggedly bullish 'Lifelong'.

To release one disc of excellent Melodic Prog would be enough for most bands, but to create two simultaneously is just plain showing off. I personally prefer '...Fragments' disc, however, that I would still heartily recommend this beautifully packaged and presented release on the strength of my less favourite of the two "albums" should tell you just how good it all is.

Steven Reid

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