Album review: KINO – Radio Voltaire

KINO - Radio Voltaire

Inside Out [Release date 23.03.18]

John Mitchell has often said  in past interviews that there may be a second Kino album to follow the excellent ‘Picture’ album released back in 2005, however it never seemed that imminent until earlier this year it was announced that a new Kino album was due, hurrah!

John Mitchell (Frost*/Lonely Robot/It Bites) and Marillion’s bass player Pete Trewavas remain from the debut album, although keyboards player John Beck (It Bites/Fish) does guest on a few tracks and they have brought in Craig Blundell on drums.

As for the album title and musical vision, John Mitchell explains that “the title sounds very cool and obviously there’s a connection with the band Cabaret Voltaire. But Voltaire himself (the 18th century French philosopher) had a fascination with death, which appealed to me.

He also stood for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I love the idea of a radio station that would reflect his views on life and cut through the bullshit which seems to be all over politics. Now, that is the type of radio station I think would reflect what a lot of us want to hear.”

The album’s title track opens the album in style with a jaw dropping piece of guitar playing by John Mitchell. ‘The Dead Club’ has been released as taster song and hints of Lonely Robot on that one, whilst ‘Idlewind’ is one of the those ballads Kino do so well. A song that deserves to be heard and enjoyed over and over.

‘I Don’t Why’ is a bouncy rocker, recalling It Bites and Cheap Trick on the harmonies – Pete Trewavas’s harmony vocals are put to good use on this one. This song highlights how Kino successfully take a pop melody, then rock and prog it up a little, wonderful stuff. Air keyboards to the fore on ‘I Won’t Break So Easily Any More’ - I am pretty certain John Beck plays on this one judging by the keys.

‘Grey Shapes On Concrete Fields’ highlights the fact that we are losing more and more of our natural green spaces to buildings. Another song that mixes the guitar, keys and rhythm to great effect – each musician can be heard clearly in the mix.

‘Keep The Faith’ switches between tempos, building from a mellow beginning to produce a pomp rock flourish and guitar solo by the song’s finale. Earlier in the song the guitar playing recalls the late, great George Harrison, sublime listening.

Has it been the worth the wait? Do bears toilet in the woods?! Kino hit the spot again with an album packed full of thoughtful and enjoyable music that successfully melds prog, pop and rock into one gorgeous musical mix. Now please don’t leave it another thirteen years until album number three! ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 September 2020.

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