Kaipa – Urskog: album review

Legendary Swedish progressive folk-fusion-rock band Kaipa release their 14th studio album. Urskog heads on a mind-expanding, off-the-beaten-track venture through the  Swedish landscape and the ever-changing seasons. 

Release Date: 28th April 2022

Label: Inside Out Music

Format: Digital / CD

The instructions is to immerse yourself in the sonic forest of Urskog and use it as the soundtrack for your own wilderness excursion! So being a good obedient lad I did! What joy !!! A traipse through the beautiful local Rivington countryside was ideal for this musical forestry jaunt.

Joining Kaipa main man Hans Lundin on bass is Jonas Reingold; a familiar name to At The Barrier readers, as he intricately furrows through the undergrowth of the album with a newcomer on drums,  Darby Todd. They’re a prominent rhythm section with guitarist Per Nilsson claiming  “ he’s got a strong own voice on his instrument and it’s been exciting hearing him take these six new Kaipa tunes to the skies… and beyond! “

The journey begins with 19 minutes of The Frozen Dead Of The Night, a long but gentle warm-up for further delights.  Fans of Yes/Genesis/ Focus (not forgetting Neil Morse…) will be on familiar paths as the song ambles from winter to spring to herald optimistic tones and timbres.

We view timbers of a different type during  In A World Of Pines. As I stroll through the tall pines of Rivington and the majestic oaks, my local scenery perfectly blends in. Despite being another long track my trek and the music render the experience timeless. The music is as bright and breezy as my mood, the vocals soaring like the sand martins above. The title track, Urskog is deeper and darker; both the music and the lyrics conjure up Swedish folklore. Dazzling guitar work continues to weave an authoritative tapestry of music.

Wilderness Excursion seems more freeform and improvised with a wild frenzy of guitar and percussion. The fusion side of the band is to the fore throughout this track. The violin and lyrics of In The Wastelands Of My Mind suggest a  folk rock style as I clear the forest into the open lakeland and circle the mock ruined castle. The fiery guitar work is fresher and livelier as the track ends with a swirling dancing tempo.

The album’s final track  The Bitter Setting Sun has an angry opening as summer ends but calms as autumn arrives. The lyrics and music celebrating joyfully the changing colours and my favourite Rivington season when it is at its most beautiful. The trilling sax solo leads into a jazzier feel but this multi-textured and multi-faceted track has further surprises as it swoops from tempo to tempo, dynamic to sweet, sombre to triumphant.

And so our journey ends but Rivington and Urskog will still be there tomorrow for another visit and “feel the magic in the air!

Kaipa: Website / Facebook

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