KIAMA – Sign Of IV (2016)
Formed about two years ago, KIAMA is the brainchild of Magenta’s multi-instrumentalist Rob Reed whom are presenting their impressive debut “Sign Of IV“.
Alongside Steven Wilson, Rob Reed must be one of the busiest men in the field of progressive rock at the moment. As well as his day job as leader and creative inspiration of the wonderful Magenta, he has more recently been spreading his multi-instrumentalist wings with the ‘rock opera’ Kompendium and his one-man tribute to Mike Oldfield, ‘Sanctuary’ – both sublime, both incredibly intensive and time-consuming.
And now here’s Kiama, a new project that Reed has put together with the intention of revisiting the classic rock bands of the early seventies such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Queen, Rainbow, et al, and essentially distilling the genre to extract the progressive rock heart that was always at the very core of tracks such as ‘Kashmir’, ‘Child In Time’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Stargazer’.
With so much of what passes for ‘progressive’ rock these days, it is so refreshing to hear a contemporary prog album, yes, with rock at its heart, but which puts the song and the melody at the centre of things.
That this has been achieved is in no small part due to the stellar cast of seasoned musicians that Reed has assembled here – Andy Edwards (Frost*, IQ, Robert Plant), Luke Machin (The Tangent, Maschine) and Dylan Thompson (Shadow Of The Sun, The Reasoning) all play their parts in what turns out to be a stunning piece of work.
Reed says: “We drew from a pool of musical references from the Seventies who were primarily thought of as rock bands, but to me were responsible for some of the greatest ‘Prog’ epics. Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven. Rainbow’s “Stargazer” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” were the order of the day.
There was no point in doing what each of us had done previously in our respective bands, the goal was to do something different.
One ingredient that you find with these classic albums of the 70’s, was that the bands were not afraid to mix the styles of music up from track to track. This is something we were not afraid to do. we just did what we liked, so each track ended up with a different feel. These days albums are very linear, stay in one style and can be a little monotonous.”
And indeed KIAMA’s debut album owes more to Classic Rock than what’s happening in the current prog scene.
The recruitment of Thompson in particular is an inspired move as his vocals are perfectly suited to the songs and, though I suspect his range has been pushed to the limit, he comes through with flying colours.
Having been recorded live at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios, “Sign Of Four” has that organic immediacy that can only be achieved with top musicians playing together rather than (as is so often the case these days) the various parts being recorded separately and squirted down the line.
Nine tracks in all and there’s not a dull moment to be heard.
Opening track ‘Cold Black Heart’ comes rumbling out of the speakers with Zeppelinesque rifferama that submits to an irresistible, anthemic chorus which gives Thompson an early opportunity to show what he’s going to bring to the party. It’s a tremendous opening statement and pretty much sets the standard for what follows.
From the acoustic intro and pounding guitar wig-out of ‘Tears’ to the elaborated chops of ‘Muzzled’; from the multiple time signature changes of ‘Slime’ to the heavy as hell / quiet as a mouse acoustics of ‘To The Edge’ and the dreamy, acoustic and most progressive track on the album ‘Beautiful World’ every player gets their moment in the sun – and every player takes that moment to shine.
Machin’s guitar work is, at times stunning and the aforementioned Thompson sprinkles magic on every track. Andy Edwards’ stickwork is everything it should be and Reed’s keyboard and bass work in particular shine through like the consummate musician he is.
It would have been very easy for KIAMA in their debut “Sign Of IV” to slip into being merely a tribute album to the Gods of yore – truth is it’s an outstanding progressive rock album that captures the excitement of that classic era whilst sounding every bit as contemporary as Reed intended.
01. Cold Black Heart
05. I Will Make It Up With You
06. To The Edge
07. Beautiful World
08. Slip Away
Rob Reed (Magenta, Kompendium) – bass, keyboards
Andy Edwards (Robert Plant, IQ, Frost*) – drums
Luke Machin (Maschine, The Tangent) – guitars
Dylan Thompson (Shadow Of The Sun, The Reasoning) – vocals
thanks to Alan Jones
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