K2 (Prog)
Black Garden


3.5
great

Review

by e210013 USER (124 Reviews)
June 20th, 2017 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another album of the super group that lost its “super”. Still this is another surprising and good release of this project.

“Black Garden” is the second studio album of K2 and was released in 2010. The line up on the album is Ken Jaquess, Josh Cleason, Karl Johnson, Ryo Okumoto and Doug Sanborn.


K2 first album came together when bassist Ken Jacques (Atlantis and New Cross), asked drummer Doug Sanborn (The Untouchchables), to play on some of the progressive rock music he was writing. As the project grew, so did the contributors, with Allan Holdsworth (Tempest, Soft Machine, Gong and U.K.), Shaun Guerin (Cinema Show), Yvette Devereaux (Progressive Symphony), John Miner (Art Rock Circus) and Ryo Okumoto (Spock’s Beard and Natalie Cole), all playing a part on what was to become the band’s 2005 debut studio album, “Book Of The Dead”. The album received critical acclaim and to back this, K2 set about putting together a band to play some live shows to promote it.

Since the recording of the debut studio album the line up had changed. Holdsworth was replaced by Ken’s friend Johnson and the vocals of the late Guerin are now perfectly sung by Gleason, a vocalist who had worked in a Genesis’ tribute band, too. Therefore the references to Peter Gabriel are still intact. Together with the original drummer Sanborn, Jaquess started to work on a second studio album, but it took a long while before we could finally enjoy this second recording of K2. So, five years later, that same quintet have finally released K2’s second album, “Black Garden”.

“Black Garden” is another conceptual album. While “Book Of The Dead” dealt with the ancient Egypt, this time the concept is based around the ancient Oceania, whose islands were populated by the Polynesians over 2000 years ago. The concept of the story is about the journey that the ancient Polynesians undertook sailing over a third of the world before they settled on the South Pacific islands. So, all this took place 2000 years before Christopher Columbus set sail. This is quite another amazing story and Ken thought it would be a great subject for the music of this new album of K2.

What K2 have created with “Black Garden” is a good collection of traditional progressive rock songs, which retains the elements that made the genre the force it is, but still manages to sound fresh and relevant. Beautiful songs are packed with musicianship of a finest order, and both combined make some nice and good slices of progressive rock that you can hear. Vocally, Gleason is a dead ringer for latter day Gabriel, with his gravelly voice crammed full of warmth and character and his ability to drench his voice in emotion heightens both the songs and the story. Musically, imagine a mix of early Genesis, spots of Yes, flashes of King Crimson with a slightly more modern approach of Spock’s Beard or Transatlantic as well as some great synthesizer string arrangements to the mix. Okumoto’s keyboard work has a huge influence on the overall sound of this album, however he never dominates the album, instead he creates huge swathes of atmosphere that uplift the songs. The guitar work of Johnson is also very good, and when he combines it with the original duo of Sanborn and Jacquess, the sounds created and the signatures written are all really very good.

About the tracks, the title track begins with a very powerful note that sounds like the bustle of a market place endorsed by the strident Middle Eastern tone of the music that follows. There’s a very dark intensity here. The longest tracks “Passage To The Deep”, “Storm At Sunset” and “Path Of The Warrior” are my highlights on “Black Garden”. I always loved lengthiest progressive tracks. However, it certainly doesn’t mean that the other tracks are less good. In reality, all the songs are of a good quality level. The band did a good job including not only up tempo tracks, but also mellow pieces. “Widows Watch” is a good example of such a piece. The Minimoog solo on this track is great and fits perfectly in the oasis of rest produced by the delicate grand piano parts. And what about the Mellotron drenched on “Summer’s Fall”? This is another great mellow piece of music. Finally, the dark symphonic touches make for a dramatic and ominous build up in the nice and beautiful “Encounter Or Absence” and where the layered guitar work sounds nice.


Conclusion: Five years have passed since the release of their debut album and K2 made another nice work. The great sound of the first release is still present. That’s just how I like in progressive rock music. I love to hear traces of Yes and Genesis as long as the musicians sound original. And that’s just the case on “Black Garden”. But, K2 isn’t a clone of those bands. Despite the departure of great musicians, the new elements have made a nice job too. Johnson brings reasonably with his guitar the traditional progressive leanings with a touch of prog metal and Gleason beyond the clear resemblance with Gabriel’s voice seems the perfect reincarnation of Guerin. However, the absence of Alan Holdsworth can be felt. His unique and intricate guitar work isn’t present anymore. We may say, the super group lost its “super”. Anyway, K2 prove that they have a very own modern sound and gained its own right in the modern prog rock scene.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (5)
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
June 20th 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As I promised, here it's another unknown work. This time it's the second album of K2. With this second review, I finished my journey through their music. Despite I've read, some time ago, something about a possible third album, it doesn't appeared untill now. I hope the band can manage to do that. I've some curiosity about it.

I hope you enjoy this album too.

As usual, your comments are always welcome.

TheIntruder
June 20th 2017


433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh! Another review of K2. Nice. It seems I need to spend a couple of hours more to check this album. And the review Too. Now, I have no time. I will tell you something when it will be possible.

e210013
June 20th 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, man. I needed to do that. I really like this musical project. This isn't as good as their debut, but it's still great, I think. But what is more important is that this project get out of the shadow where it's. No matter that it please us, more or less. What is really important is that we can listening to it and discuss about it.

Thanks, dude. Your participation on my reviews continue very useful to me, especially in cases like this, where people prefer discuss known things instead of be confronred with the unknown.

Once more, thanks and cheers.

Divaman
June 20th 2017


4420 Comments


Another interesting band I've never heard of before. These guys are British, e? Anyway, nice job as always.

Digging: Bayside - Interrobang

e210013
June 20th 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No, Diva. These guys are from your country. More properly from L.A. They're strongly influenced by the the British 70's prog sound but they're really an American band. It's interesting and strange too, but I think they're more known outside of US, despite they're not properly a known band. Anyway, they're more a super group project than a band. However, if you're intersested in check them, I think you can begin by their debut album "Book Of The Dead". You can check my previous review which was about their debut too.

Thanks and cheers, man.

Divaman
June 20th 2017


4420 Comments


Very cool. Thanks, e.

e210013
June 20th 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're welcome, dude.

Jethro42
June 21st 2017


15964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listened to this album only once, and I'm not impressed up to now. Damn, here is another singer who tries too hard to sound like Peter Gabriel. It's an habit for numerous singers such as Shaun Guerin, Fish, Kevin Gilbert and both Elbow's, IQ's , The Watch's , Blue October's singers to name a few. When the music is well done, it's all fine though. Long live Gabriel ;)



Will read your review later.

e210013
June 21st 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"When the music is well done, it's all fine though."

Yeah, long live Gabriel.

Thanks, Jethro.

Jethro42
June 22nd 2017


15964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, bro. I pos'd.

In my opinion, it reads as if you rated it at a 4. In fact, the only negative point you gave to it is the absence of Allan Holdsworth. Like you say on that matter; the super group lost its “super”. So except for this, your review really looks higher than a 3.5.



You have a typo in the first sentence; You said the album was released in 2005, but you meant 2010...



I really like the first song which is a blend of Led Zeppelin and The Tea Party with its Middle Eastern flavour. Of course, we also recognize the K2 signature into it. About the rest of the songs, I still have to listen to them. One thing is sure, I don't like ''Widows Watch'', and ''Storm at Sunset'' seems not doing much to me.



Also, I have to say I've never been a big fan of Ryo Okoumoto, particularly in his work with Spock's Beard. I prefer when he plays keyboards safely and with sobriety. I don't like when he's noodling, when he goes to an improvisation's style.



e210013
June 22nd 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I see what you mean. I myself hesitated in give to it a 4.0, what I have did when I added the band and album on Sutnik, initially. But, as I made both reviwes at the same time, which is the reason I did that typo (2005 is the year of the release of "Book Of The Dead"), I realise that their debut is a bit better than this one is. And I think the main reason is the lack of the original guitar work of Allan. Still, I also felt the lack of Devereaux and her violin ( I always loved the sound of a violin well played). So, I decided that must would be a difference with the ratings of both albums.

About the album, you know I like it. I don't dislike the change of its sound from a more symphonc sound with a touch of fusion to a more symphonic sound with a touch of metal. It's all about the line up of the band and the capacity of adaptation to the new reality of the new line up. This is why I wrote in the end of my review: "K2 prove that they have a very own modern sound and gained its own right in the modern prog rock scene."

About Okumoto, I never thougt that. But I think I never felt it. I've no problem with his style with Spock's Beard. But I can admit that you can dislike of it. It's all a matter of taste, my friend.

Thanks, bro.



P.S. I've already corrected that typo and once again thanks.

Jethro42
June 22nd 2017


15964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think that their inspiration is missing quite a bit for this album. Nothing is too memorable to me. Too much unnecessary leads from the guitar and the keyboards. Not enough catchy vocal lines. In short, the song writing is nothing more than average. It sounds like if they were rushed to do the album. There are some good passages in every tracks, but in general, they don't go anywhere and I can't find much interest. I would give it a 2.5/5, but for the good passages, I can extend it to a 3/5. Too bad, songs are not built very well for my taste.

e210013
June 23rd 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"I think that their inspiration is missing quite a bit for this album."

I can see what you mean. However, I'm not so harsh with the album as you are. I think the album has enough positive points, like you said, some good passages for be considered a good or even a great album. Still, it's all a matter of taste.

Anyway, we maintain the same coherence. We lower 0.5 from the debut to this one. And we keep the same coherence between both. I continue a bit more friendly of the albums that you are. Ah,ah,ah...

Jethro42
June 23rd 2017


15964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You're so right. You're just a bit more enthusiastic than me. I tend to be more harsh with the age hahah. Here's a deal; to increase the chances to have both the same ratings, feel free to take a look at my 5s, and if you love them, chances are high that you would 5 them too, just like me. After all there is no way you can rate them at a 5.5 hahaha

e210013
June 26th 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, maybe you're right. But you can do the same. You can take a look at my ratings, and you can change yours. So, it will be more equal. But, this method have a problem. It would be to much tedious for us. It would be a great mess. So, it's better to maintain the same rules. Anyway, you have a worst taste than I have. That is a fact. Ah, ah, ah,....

Jethro42
June 26th 2017


15964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As long as prog is living, it's all fine ;)

e210013
June 26th 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agree.

TheIntruder
July 3rd 2017


433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sorry but I was very busy and only now I had time to listen to both albums of K2.

Black Garden is not a bad album but I think they lose some of their inspiration. Perhaps due to the absence of Holdsworth. I think it is very far of their debut. Anyway, I think it deserves a solid 3.0.

e210013
July 3rd 2017


2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, it seems a fact. The absence of Allan is to much felt on this album, which is a pity. But I'm glad, despite all you said, that you like the album. After all a 3.0 is a nice rating.

Thanks for your comment, man. It's always important to have the feedback of our work, sooner or later.

Cheers.



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