It sounds topical, but Roine Stolt can't stop; composing, performing or producing, his name is astonishingly frequent in the credits of any contemporary progressive work.
Despite his prestige, the truth is that, lately, good old Stolt has made me doubt, since neither “Space Revolver” nor “Rainmaker”, or Kaipa's “Notes From The Past”, impressed me. I was specially disappointed with this last release, being a Lundin/ Stolt work, the creators of old masterpieces such as “Solo". After repeated listening, I still see that album as an unsuccessful and amorphous piece of music, being too long and pointless, burying some occasionally brilliant instrumental sparkles under minutes and minutes of compositive mediocrity and unfortunate vocal interventions.
The fact is that, after so much dissatisfaction, “Unfold The Future” appeared, and that masterpiece made me recover my lost faith. This same faith is what moves me to give Kaipa, nowadays the most important Flower Kings' subsidiary, a second chance (well, really a fifth...). “Keyholder” is their new work, and comes wrapped up in a showy package, certainly attractive but perhaps a little too "digital" for my taste (by the way, the hooded character reminds me of Macaulay Culkin; no comment..). Anyway, let's talk about the music, which in the end is what really matters. The result is, for the most part, and in spite of some faults, much more satisfactory than it was in “Notes From The Past”.
"Lifetime Of A Journey" opens the album in a very convincing way. The music is superbly produced, and the compositive work looks cohesive. The band sounds powerful and excellent on the instrumental sections (specially the rhythm section, with Morgan Agren and Jonas Reingold, whose performance is brilliant); Stolt plays a brilliant solo which sounds 100% Fripp, and Patrik Lundström's voice sounds much more convincing than on the last album. A good way to start, followed by "A Complex Work Of Art", which cannot hold up the standard. After such a pretentious title there's a twelve minute epic where one of the bands' weakest points appears: the lack of good vocal harmonies. Instrumentally, this is a splendid song, with a wonderful jazzy middle section, but Aleena's voice (which is O.K., but not particularly memorable) simply doesn't fit. The result is a piece that sounds like two different songs glued together unsuccessfully.
The album continues with two unremarkable tracks, "The Weed Of All Mankind", which sounds powerful and cohesive, but quite trite and predictable, and "Sonic Pearls", a shorter, homogeneous and very atmospheric composition which, at least, gives you a break between so many time changes and instrumental saturation.
The second half of the Cd is, undoubtedly, the most successful. Neither "Across The Big Uncertain" nor "Otherwordly Brights" are particularly remarkable; the former is a ballad, with duo vocals by Patrik and Aleena, which dangerously increases the sugar dose. The last is the closing title of the album, with a typically grandiose and magnificent finale, and an easily forgettable melody. The thing is that, immured between these two tracks, we can find the best songs of the Cd and of this new Kaipa incarnation, I'd say. "End Of The Rope" and "Distant Voices" (not by chance the longest tracks and, not by chance, the most Stolt-influenced) are both superb. It's about archetypical Kaipa themes, that is to say occasional overplaying and disproportionate pomposity (Lundin is still determined to play EVERY keyboard in the world), but this time made with intensity and conviction. "End Of The Rope" is a "Silent Inferno" (one of the great suites from “Unfold The Future”) twin sister, and both share their edgy and rocky essence, with brilliant instrumentation and some jam session-like passages which are really rewarding. "Distant Voices", with a similar structure, approaches a purely Yes sound; in fact, this wouldn't have been out of tune on the “Yes Album” or “Fragile”. By the way, there's a small tribute to Transatlantic inside this song, in the shape of a wink to "My New World".
In conclusion, a good work for the most classical seventies symphonic lovers, maybe a bit excessive and sometimes repetitive, but very pleasant to listen.