The second album from Kepler Ten is one that could well have you backtracking to see what you’ve been missing. A tremendous slab of polished progressive tinged songs.
Release date: 20th November 2020
Label: White Star Records
Format: CD / DL
A new band to us but one whose influences range from the likes of Muse, Rush and Dream Theater to Van Halen and Queen, is enough to tempt us in. And we’re glad we took the plunge. Should have known to be honest. The White Star label is one that usually turns out the quality and style of music that strikes a chord with some of us here At The Barrier.
For a trio, Kepler Ten makes quite a sound and when two of the guys are listed as players of bass pedals… Oh my, the thought of that delicious rattling of the ribcage. Some might argue they’re more prog than the Mellotron. Anyway…
A New Kind of Sideways comes described as ” a semi-conceptual album that is humanitarian and philanthropic in its theme.” That’s semi-conceptual in the fact that despite each track having its own individual entity, the album is encompassed and held together in a cyclical manner by the first and last track. More of which later when we come to the epic One And The Same.
A hint of the Vienna heartbeat in the middle of the lush opening instrumental Universal that bursts into life with a razor-sharp guitar line. It’s a workout that sets the scene perfectly, segueing into Clarity
Despite a surfeit of possibilities, the title track for one, you can appreciate why Falling Down has been issued to whet the appetite for the album. Amongst all the lush arrangements and vocal hooks and the extremely strong Eighties Rush vibe of the title track, Falling Down offers the experience of what you’ll find in the album in one track. A microcosm that captures some fancy fretwork amidst the brooding mood and even nudges open the melodic AOR door.
Ultimately, you’ll discover an album packed with impressive yet easy on the ear instrumental passages based more on the Eighties take on progressive music. Any wild moog solos and roaring Hammonds are notable by their absence. A New Kind Of Sideways is much more open to the like of the walking bass solo on These Few Words and although the acoustic opening to Icarus Eyes is a lovely touch, the subtle gospel fusion at the end that’s most uplifting.
Arriving at the piece de resistance, twenty minutes of One And The Same (longer the better in Prog right?) finds the “we’re controversial, misguided by gods” line sounding suspiciously like FGTH’s Holly Johnson. It’s a bold and strident opening sequence where the trio play all their aces on a track where more is definitely more.
In an Animals style Floyd-y section (“we’re all one and the same, just links in the chain“) you can imagine Old Rog barking out the words before we’re off into a tremendous, nay, a mighty instrumental section takes us back through several of the musical themes of what’s passed before. See what they did there? It leads to “that moment of clarity right at the start,” which is manna from heaven for all of us who love that sort of thing. From the brilliantly dramatic (a la IQ bit) about 6:50 to11:10, via a Jordan Rudess style intervention, we’re in hog heaven. Worth the price of admission territory.
A repeat of the key lyric and the slow build to a grand finale that takes up the latter third of the piece. Again to distant choir/harmonies provide an airy depth before the obligatory guitar gymnastics.
While the band might have set out expressing a frustration that we all bleed the same colour, yet “we seem to spend most of our time finding ways to make life difficult for one another,” A New Kind Of Sideways offers a wonderfully alternative respite from everyday trials and tribulations. Yes, it might have an element of polish around its smooth edges, but what Kepler Ten have is record that’s beautifully written, arranged, played and produced.
Listen to the first single from the album, Falling Down: