Rock Werk Records [Release date: 26 October 2014]
Hailing from Germany, Karibow is the brainchild – and, as far as I can make out, the sole preserve of – Oliver Rüsing, an exceptional multi-instrumentalist – who, again as far as I can make out, has written, mixed, produced and, goddammit, played everything on ‘Addicted’.
And this is no small achievement as this is a multi-genre, multi-faceted, cornucopia of an album that must have been both a stimulating musical adventure and a complex technical challenge.
Described by the ‘band’ himself as pop, rock and neo-progressive merging into a ‘contemporary world of sound’, what strikes home on first listening is the sheer diversity of what’s on offer.
To paraphrase Spock – “it’s prog Jim, but not as we know it”, at least not in the vein of classic progressive rock anyway.
You won’t hear the likes of King Crimson, Yes and early Genesis here, but think of the prog-lite cadre of (mainly American) bands such as Toto, Saga and Kansas crossed with the likes of Asia and particularly Mike and the Mechanics and the picture starts to appear.
The album itself clocks in at almost eighty minutes which gives Rüsing plenty of time to give free rein to all his musical ideas – perhaps just a little too much time…
Things get underway with the up-tempo ‘Change’ – a good choice as lead-off as the template for most of the album is well and truly laid down early-doors.
This is followed by one of the two stand-out tracks here – ‘Primeval’, a progressive rock tour de force with its many time signature changes and dextrous use of pastoral quietness juxtaposed with bursts of heavy guitar is only beaten to top place by closer ‘9/16’ where Rüsing really lets rip his creative genius for a truly epic coda.
In between there is much to admire although things do get a bit flat from time to time – tracks such as ‘Home Of Cain’ and ‘Stella Nova’ are not bad, but just hit the ‘average’ button in comparison with the excellence of the rest.
And therein lies the paradox of ‘Addicted’ – for despite its diversity and musical quality, it’s probably twenty minutes too long. Perhaps a little more judicious editing to get it down to around an hour, and maybe a few more tracks in the style of the two stand-outs mentioned would have resulted in a fabulous album.
As it is ‘Addicted’ is still a damn fine effort.
Review by Alan Jones
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