Karibow | Holophinium | Album Review (Installment #42)

Karibow | Holophinium

Label : Progressive Promotion Records
Release Year : 2016
Country : Germany & International
Genre : Power Neo-Progressive Hard Rock

Band Members

Oliver Rusing – Lead & Backing Vocals, Drums, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Michael Sadler – Lead & Backing Vocals
Sean Timms – Piano & Keyboards
Colin Tench – Guitars
Karsten Stiers – Lead Vocals
Jurg Eschrig – Mandolin, Backing Vocals
Daniel Neustad – Fretless Bass
Chris Thomas – Acoustic Guitars
Markus Bergen – Keyboards

Contact Links 

Karibow Official Website

Karibow Official Facebook Page

Karibow Official Holophinium Facebook Page

Karibow Official Youtube Channel

Karibow are a band that has recently come upon my radar. Formed in the late 1990’s by German multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist Oliver Rusing, Karibow come in the neo progressive tradition of bands like Saga, Marillion, and Rush ( Moving Pictures & Permanent Waves ) – era with a power AOR twist of bands like Journey, Styx and Honeymoon Suite.  In 2016 Oliver Rusing returns with Holophinium a double conceptual piece on the experience of space travel. He is also joined by a all star cast of various characters within the progressive rock community. To name a few are Colin Tench Corvus Stone, Saga vocalist Michael Sadler,  Sean Timms  Unitopia & Southern Empire. 

Karibow Holophinium is a very well written, well intelligent and well produced double album. It is practically two albums in one however it is written in such a way where the audience can not have the first half without having the second half and vice versa. Disc 1 Fragments is the more intimate view to Holophinium and Disc 2 Letter from the White Room is a more overall view of Holophinium. Now I will point out some highlights to each disc for the listener.

Disc 1 Fragments

Fragments begins with a futuristic track called Distant Movements. This 1:44 basically serves like a cinematic intro into the album. It is more keyboard based with various effects before the album moves forward to the next track Holophinium.
The opening to Holophinium is very heavily rhythm based to start with. Soon the track takes on a very neo symphonic passage as the crystal clear vocals kick in. Holophinium goes in and out of various time signatures and change chord progressions. The backing vocals are wonderfully mixed in like a echo as much as a harmony based backing vocals. It has a killer guitar solo around the 3:30 mark. Holophinium really sets the mood and vibe of this double conceptual piece before going into the next track E.G.O.

E.G.O. starts out with a very Peter Gabriel influenced intro with the keyboards. E.G.O. has a lot of ambient atmospheres in the back drop with the instrumental. This track contains well executed rhythm based sections between bass and drums. The vocals are executed more towards the rhythmic section with the various breaks and brief spoken word portions. This track also does not depend on the status quo verse/bridge/chorus . It intentionally continues with the story. The vocals are warm and inviting to the listener and welcome even the most discriminating of pallets. The story continues in a warmth light before going into its next track Victims of Light.

Victims Of Light begins with a thunderous rumble almost like a rocket preparing for take off. The effect is created with the bass/drum/rhythm guitar section. It is one of the heavier intro passages on the project before being joined by a dark Hammond style organ. The vocals are more AOR based than progressive based on this. The band executes and uses a unique talent and ability of vocal harmony on Victims of Light. The main highlight here is the well produced harmony between the instrumental and vocal.

Some Will Fall starts out with a lush keyboard atmosphere with a nice spoken word section in harmony with it before the lead vocal kicks in. This is one of the darker and more somber tracks on Holophinium. The band really put on a vocal clinic and a guitar clinic on this particular track. The guitar solo really bridges the mood on this one as well.

Connection Refused opens up with a well crafted simulated effect as if it were a old internet dial up signal. The band do this with a well played percussion section and keyboard. The vocals are really full of emotion on this track. The drum/bass rhythm section are a very tight with a blissful rhythmic backbone.

River starts out with a straight away rock track in a very thick AOR tradition. The keyboards kick in in a neo progressive fashion. River is a very Saga influenced track. It has great rhythm and lead guitars with great bass/drum rhythm sections. The backing vocals are used in a more instrumental way on this one.

Angel Scent is another warm and inviting track with nice instrumental and vocal harmonies. This one takes on a heavy jazz progression in the background and lead in the composition. This song is really carried by the vocal harmony.

King opens with a nice percussive and keyboard passage. Soon the guitar comes in and takes it in a hard rock direction. The vocals play nicely off the rhythm section. King also has a semi pop sensibility that could be a potential single for the album.

Quantum Leap begins with a heavy rhythm section with a keyboard giving the track some melody. The keyboard is very futuristic in nature. Quantum Leap have various hooks time signatures and progressions where the listener has no time for being bored. Quantum Leap also is a great conclusion and outro to Disc 1 Fragments before the album picks back up on Disc 2 Letter from the White Room, a 36+ minute epic.

Disc 2 Letter from the White Room.
This track opens with a spoken word tidbit almost like a prayer to God before the keyboard takes it into a almost deep space atmosphere. This is soon joined by vocals and a light percussion portion before the drums take it on a progressive passage. I have never heard such a unorthodox intro however it is brilliant. The band does a great job at progressively building this track up adding layer on layer of various rhythmic passages in harmony with the stringed section of keyboard and guitar. The vocals are warm enough to ease the listener into a track as long as this. One highlight I noticed on Disc 2 Letter from the White Room like I did with Disc 1 Fragments was that the writing and production is at a point where it does not overwhelm the listener. It is as if the listener is allowed to rest within the track instead of being forced into it like some progressive rock epics.

I believe that Karibow have a sheer progressive masterpiece on their resume with Holophinium . This album is written in such a way that they can play it live in its fullest and make a evening of it. It will be curious to see if any visual treatment will be given to this album. Given the way the album was arranged and engineered I give this a 4.5/5. This album is already a Top 10 Album of 2016 for me as well. 

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