While Kaipa has had a lengthy career, beginning in the mid-1970s when English progressive rock was waning and the influence was spreading to other countries, I have finally heard them. My knowledge of them is more recent, as a big fan of The Flower Kings knowing that Roine Stolt was a founding member would give enough fodder to gain my interest. In The Wake of Evolution is an wonderful album, deep in conventional progressive ideals, Kaipa has a welcomed place in most traditional progressive rock fans. Kaipa continues and strengthens my opinion that some of the best progressive rock has come from Sweden in the past decade plus including Opeth, The Flower Kings, and Beardfish to name a few.
The opening track, “In The Wake Of Evolution” is the grabber and a wonderful way to introduce the album’s musical contexts, and as a new listener a great way to introduce the band. Aleena Gibson’s voice is well placed in the mix and adds an uncanny romanticism to the lyrics, especially when the music kicks back in. The solos are filled with talent and never masturbatory and add the right amount of tension to the musical journey. “In The Heart Of Her Own Magic Field” has an excellent melody in the chorus that will embed itself into your mind.
“Electric Power Water Notes” is the longest track on this album and takes its time with the organ based melody building into a instrumental interlude. This song reintroduces the leitmotif very well into the other sections of this epic. The repetition of the title in the song does feel a little out of place and forced. One of the best tracks is “The Words Are Like Leaves” with gorgeous lyrics and vocals over a minimalist musical landscape that builds heavier breakdowns that are fantastic.
As the album continues, many similar musical tropes from other songs appear again; a unique style of Kaipa? “Smoke From A Secret Source” and “The Seven Oceans Of Our Mind” round out the album with interesting lyrics and melodies, but just a tad too much of more of the same.
The mix is excellent with the bass having excellent presence, reminiscent of Chris Squire‘s round, full, but never overplayed bass runs in Yes. All the instruments are well heard and never overbearing. The album itself is not at all hot, a relief as most productions continue to believe that louder is better. I say, give the volume control to the user. Kaipa is unique as they have two lead vocalists; one male (Patrik Lundström), one female (Aleena Gibson). This duet allows the lyrics to offer counterpoint sections and provide the right voice at the right time, rather than having one vocalist struggle to do both. Gibson’s voice is emotional, but never sacron.
2010 has been a relatively dismal year for the amount of prog albums released and In the Wake of Evolution is certainly one of the strongest studio releases of the year, its a shame that I’ve only recently picked up on this gorgeous band. This release is more than likely to be enjoyed by the most open-minded progressive rock fans who enjoy the epic musical journeys and unconventional time changes. While these elements are unconventional to most popular music, they are right at home in a progressive rock fan’s rotation. As I slowly go backwards in time through the Kaipa discography, I am sure my opinions about this album will change, but at this moment, I thoroughly enjoy this album.