Intro: Goran Petrić
14 / 11 / 2018
After 13 years, Kino return with their second release entitled Radio Voltaire. I had discovered their debut Picture shortly after it was released. I was very excited when I heard the news that almost the same line-up which consists vocalist and guitarist John Mitchell, Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas, It Bites’ keyboardist John Beck and the new drummer Craig Blundell working on their sophomore album. As for the inspiration behind Radio Voltaire, Mitchell cites two things: the band Cabaret Voltaire and the 18th century French philosopher Voltaire.
A worthy yet delayed follow-up
I’m always sceptical when it comes to this kind of supergroup but these incredibly talented musicians impressed me with their ability to make a very catchy and melodic but still very progressive songs. Following the approach that they are offered on the previous album, this release delivers another set of wonderfully crafted, sophisticated and well executed songs. The album sound is a mix between modern prog with neo-prog. There are a lot of great melodies with interesting arrangements. Prog elements are very much present and are enough to satisfy any serious prog fan. Mitchell’s guitar work and voice are still the driving forces. His riffs are excellent and the emotion in his voice so strongly honest. My only complaint is that, at times, the vocals are a bit too soft for the instruments behind them. This goes especially for heavy numbers on the album.
Trewavas served some infectious basslines, creating the perfect platform for John’s voice. Blundell’s tight drumming brings new energy and fresh sound to the band. The keyboards are slightly more prominent than on Picture, Beck delivers exceptional melodies and the background synth sounds in I Won’t Break So Easy Anymore and I Don’t Why. The highlights here are the opening song Radio Voltaire which is one the most progressive tracks on the album, where Mitchell’s stunning guitar work brings to mind the melodicism of David Gilmour. As fo the beautifully crafted and piano based Idlewild, it is one of those songs you can fall in love with over and over again. The music, vocals and the lyrics are in perfect harmony with each other. Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields is another amazing tune filled with great, convincing atmosphere and tempo changes. Despite not being a filler, the only song I find a bit bland and uninteresting is Temple Tudor.
Radio Voltaire is a worthy follow-up to the acclaimed debut of Kino and is a very pleasant album to listen to, especially for fans of melodic and pop oriented progressive rock music. I hope these guys will keep on playing together and offer more outstanding records in the future.
8 / 10