The name Kaipa might or might not strike a bell for you, depending on where you’re from and how old you are. The band technically been around for a very long time, as they were a part of the Swedish prog scene which in some ways really differentiated itself from what non-Swedes think of when they think of prog. While prog from England, the US or Canada was often times very much about technical expertise, drug induced trips of fancy or philosophically complex ideas and theses, Swedish prog was a very lefty, ideologically communist movement. It’s not something that this Angry Metal Guy has been particularly well-informed about, so instead we called Angry Swedish Prog Correspondent to inform us about this whole fascinating phenomenon. There’s a lot one can say about it, but let us formulate it like this: Swedish prog was dirty, lefty hippies giving even the most talentless member of their friends group the right to play, despite them not having any talent at all. Kaipa wasn’t like this, on the other hand. Instead, they were much more akin to Yes, Genesis, Rush and other progressive rock bands. As a consequence, they were never quite accepted as part of the Swedish scene, but became more internationally accepted. However, unlike the communal-living types like National Teatern, Kaipa reformed in the early 2000s and has been producing records since with just one original member, Hans Lundin.
Because of the fact that Lundin is the only original member, it means that he’s been able to fill in the band with new members making Kaipa a fantastic, talented group of musicians who are really producing music and playing on the plane that one really expects of excellent prog. This demonstrates itself in the varying styles and places Kaipa takes the listener on this long and winding journey. From the eternally happy sunshine land, for example, of the opening and title track on the record, “In the Wake of Evolution”, to the neo-folk “Folkia’s First Decision”. There are moments that are reminiscent of reggae, 50s Rock n’ Roll and, of course, jazz fusion. Of course, the fact that Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) is playing guitar on this record is evident through some very metal guitar solos, as well.
In the Wake of Evolution isn’t just musically varied, Lundin and company take us through an emotional roller coaster sonically and the effect is great. Every track on the album stands out as a dynamic, self-contained cosmos of fascinating ideas and emotional expression. Despite the fact that the songs range between two and half and 17 minutes long, there is definitely a sense of balance and unity between the separate tracks. However, there are a lot of pieces written in major keys and some very, very happy music on this record. This, of course, makes this Angry Metal Guy a little uncomfortable because it’s just so… HAPPY. But particularly when you hit the later sections of the record that are a bit more orchestrated, the emotional downs stand out as well. I don’t think you can be an aging progger without having a little bit of pent up sadness and anger.
There are very few things to complain about on this album, actually. Sometimes the composition can feel a little forced, but the biggest problem for me personally are the vocals of Aleena Gibson, who has an incredibly sharp voice. Not like she’s not in tune, but instead she just has a very harsh sounding tone. While she has a unique sound and she blends well with Lundin and LundstrÃ¶m in the harmonies, on her own she can be a bit grating after a while. Instead let us end this here by saying that there are very few progressive bands who are composing music that really carries the same feeling of experimentality and curiosity about blending music into a cohesive whole that is at once intellectually stimulating, catchy and engaging. Kaipa embodies this feeling of progressiveness on their new album and I suggest that open-minded fans of progressive music check this out, because it is a fascinating ride.