‘Chasing The Lesser Light’ was released a few weeks back, at the end of March, in advance of the inaugural UK live performance from Kinetic Element at the highly acclaimed Winter’s End Festival held in Chepstow. Which, by all accounts, was both well attended and also highly rewarding for the band, significantly increasing their level of popularity along with being financially satisfying.
It is not hard too see why the band were so warmly received, especially on the strength of this almost concept album (or at least thematically linked collection of songs) that is based on the theme of space exploration. The record has merely five tracks in lengths of between six and almost twenty minutes duration. The music is definitely Symphonic Prog which has nods to the likes of ELP, Yes, Asia and many others. The band say that their lyrics have a spiritual touch, however, don’t be alarmed by this it is only mild and is really more about being positive as opposed to the possibly more heavy handed preaching of say Neal Morse or similar.
The album begins with its shortest track, First Stage, which is about contemplating space travel and flight without wings, as it were. The song has a slightly eastern sounding riff in it’s initial section which then becomes more straightforward after a synth section. Once John Coleman’s vocals begin, the bass on this song is very good and fair gallops along leaving space for Mike Visaagio’s piano parts and semi-jazz guitar licks form Peter Matuchniak. I find this very interesting as it deals with the anticipation and expectations of space travel.
Title track Chasing The Lesser Light concerns itself with the moon expeditions already completed and the impact they had globally. Ok, it was over 50 years ago now but it was truly a huge step for mankind and, unlike certain theories tell us, we really did go there and also return safely. When you think that the tablet that this very review was written on has more processing power and capabilities then were available to NASA at the time, it makes the fact that it even happened all the more impressive! The song is another impressive and lengthy one at almost 20 minutes long. Again there is excellent bass from Mark Tupko and lots of atmospheric organ and synths, you definitely hear E.L.P in this track with the descending bass runs and the effusive Hammond organ stabs. Not unexpectedly, there is a lot going on in this track, strong vocals, classic organ sounds strong piano and all manner of synths and rhythm section support, especially from Michael Murray’s superb drums. The latter portion of the song talks of seeing the earth from the moon and the powerful effect that has on the astronauts when first witnessed along with the powerful impression actually walking on the moon had globally when those early television broadcasts were transmitted, capturing the moment for posterity. Those images still evoke awe and wonder today, a fact this song manages to convey very well. For me though even better is Radio Silence which deals with the families left behind and their mix of emotions from being proud but also being fearful for their safety, this gentle song is very heartfelt and very well executed .
The next track We Can’t Forget sees us looking beyond the moon to further destinations like Mars to see if life exists or could survive in such a climate. Already folks like Elon Musk are looking at these prospects seriously and planning ways to get there. This song looks at these possibilities and asks are they realistic or just a pipe dream,? Only time will tell I guess but we are right to be asking such questions and musings. Door To Forever closes the album by musing on reopening the door to space travel, and to become the Starman in the sky. A wistful opening on this lengthy track where keys and guitar combine to give an almost Bowie-like feel to the music. John’s emotive vocals grab your attention and lead you on the journey where Peter’s guitar has touches of Steve Howe at his pomp. It’s an enjoyable, fine way to close what has been a brilliant listen.
Overall, this is an exceptional release with lots of great music and musicianship a plenty, a pumping, driving rhythm section alongside solid guitar and excellent keyboard sounds and solos. This will be especially satisfying to fans of acts like ELP or Yes and, indeed, to anyone who likes vintage prog bands as Kinetic Element have that classic sound and bring their own modern take on prog. The results are very fine indeed and most definitely worth a listen, give it a go and help this long standing US band get wider acclaim, they’ll appreciate it I’m sure!
Released 20th March, 2023
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