Review Summary: Kingston Wall II is an excellent album featuring some incredible musicianship and many different styles melded together to create something original and unique. Highly recommended to any fans of classic 60's psychedelia or progressive rock.
Releasing all 3 of their albums on their own label and only playing outside of Finland once (in Estonia), Kingston Wall never gained that much popularity during their lifespan, but have since gained quite a large cult following due to the high quality of their music and unique sound. Kingston Wall II
, released in 1993, is thought by many to be the band's best work.
Kingston Wall mix their psychedelic and prog rock influences, most noticeably Jimi Hendrix
and Pink Floyd
, into their own more modern style. Despite the obvious influences though, Kingston Wall II
still sounds totally unique. This is because of the modernised sound and, as the cover implies, the inclusion of Eastern musical styles. Guitarist, singer and composer Petri Walli was fascinated with Eastern cultures, spending a lot of time in India, and it shows. His fantastic Hendrix inspired guitar playing is accentuated with the inclusion of Eastern scales and the lyrics often deal with Eastern themes.
The opening track, 'We Cannot Move', an energetic heavy psychedelic track which demonstrates much of the Eastern influences, is easily one of the album's best. While at this point it would appear that the album would all be in this style it suddenly changes by the second track which introduces new acoustic folk influences to the band's style that hadn't been heard previously, including a violin. The entire album is full of surprises like this, with all of the songs sounding completely different to each other, mixing genres and influences. 'Shine On Me' is another highlight, a mellow song emphasising the band's Pink Floyd's influences, complete with a saxophone. There is even a cover of Donna Summer
's disco song 'I Feel Love'.
Despite the huge variety, the album never lacks consistency. Many of the songs flow into each other, and it can even be hard to tell when one ends and another begins at times. Petri Walli's guitar playing is one of the best things about the album and is focused on a lot throughout. As mentioned before, he is clearly very much influenced by Jimi Hendrix, even to the point of some claiming that Walli is just mimicking him, but Walli manages to play in this style well with plenty of memorable riffs and excellent solos that bring the different musical styles together, and the acoustic guitar sections are also very impressive. His singing does not quite reach the same quality, sometimes sounding a bit too weak for the music and occasionally with slight Finnish accent but this isn't too noticeable, partly because much of the music is instrumental.
The other musicians are also hugely talented, especially the drummer, Sami Kuoppamaki, who has gone on to perform session drumming, most noticeable for metal bands such as Stratovarius
. Kuoppamaki manages to play in whatever style he needs to easily, even playing bongos on a few tracks such as 'You', and the often quite complex drumming always sounds impressive. Bassist Jukka Jylli is also great, contributing with some fantastic and also often quite complex bass-lines, especially noticeable on the mellower songs such as 'Shine On Me' and the amazing instrumental 'And It's All Happening'.
Overall, Kingston Wall II
is an excellent album featuring some incredible musicianship and many different styles melded together to create something original and unique. Highly recommended to any fans of classic 60's psychedelia or progressive rock.