"Notes From the Past" marked a return to music by Hans Lundin, the original founding member of Kaipa in the mid 70's. Roine Stolt joined the band as a teenager, and remained until the early 80's to pursue a solo career. After 20 years of silence (running a music shop in Sweden), Mr. Lundin came back, along with Roine Stolt with last years "Notes from the Past". The album was very well recieved; musically it was structured very well and the vocals strong. With just over a year's absence, the exact group has returned with "Keyholder".
According to the credits, Roine Stolt is a co-writer on three album tracks. Personally, I can hear little or no difference in the material as compared to last years release. It seems as though the band could have taken another year to rejuvenate. The best song, the only real reason to own the album, is "A Complex Work of Art", with beautiful lead vocals by Aleena (She was on the last album, but has a greater presence here). The song moves through various speeding bits, a gentle vocal, and the last half being very 'prog'.
"Lifetime of a Journey" (track 1) has been favorably compared to the music of Queen. It is very pompous, with dual guitars and harmony vocals. Although written by Lundin, this song has a strong Flower Kings vibe. "Weed of all Mankind" is fairly lengthy and somewhat agressive and also gentle. "Sonic Pearls" is decent, typical Kaipa, nothing quite remarkable. "End of the Rope" is the album's longest track, at almost 14 minutes. Shades of light and dark, angry vocals. Big stretches of interlocking bass/guitar/keyboard lines.
"Across the Big Uncertain" has a very pastoral sense to it; gentle, soft, flowing, peaceful. "Distant Voices" is another typical, very long tune. Mostly instrumental, with varying elements of timbre and dynamic range. The final track, "Otherwordly Brights" is another unremarkable tune, although very positive and melodic. It could have been anywhere on the album.
In comparison to the last release, this album is much more agressive, more song-driven. Although the 'lead guitar' synth sound that Mr. Lundin employes becomes very annoying at times, you will hear more organ, mellotron, and even harpsichord pop up in the songs than the last album. Roine Stolt is arguably in a period of greatest production, and his guitar-ing is top notch. I would have prefferred his singing to the sometimes bombastic vocals of Lundin and Patrik Lundstrom. Drummer Morgan Agren is quite skilled and competent, and bassist Reingold is in fine form, if providing more of an accompaning role as opposed to his often virtuoso and skillful performances in Karmakanic and Flower Kings.
Not an entirely unique album, too similar to last years album, but worth a listen regardless. Mr. Stolt recommends that the listener hear the album at least 5 times. My opinion stands firm: this is good, although not different enough.