It’s a known scenario. One sits in their own studio in the lockdown and tinkers with ideas but has the mild impression of gradually losing it. After twenty years of full throttle, you’re feeling run down, yet the head is still racing. Well, it’s a known scenario if your name is Kalle Wallner at least. To take a break, however, that has never been an option. So the ideas, fragments and motifs piled up and on an indeterminate evening he took a step back and had to accept the fact that he had an instrumental album on his hands. That’s pretty much how ‘Voices’ came about, the now fourth solo album by the busy musician from Freising/Bavaria, perhaps better known as the guitarist in the perennial prog band RPWL.
Pragmatically numbered serially, the album is mainly an instrumental where the individual tracks are always related to and intertwined with each other. The one track out of the seven that contains vocals being Three, where Arno Menses of Subsignal lends his cultured vocal to proceedings.
Opulence has always been an integral part of Wallner’s solo work and that is ramped up to the max on this excellent work, thunderous riffing being another and that is present and correct in spades! There’s an energy infused in every note on the album, starting with the high-tempo momentum of One with Yogi’ Lang’s delicious keyboards lending some gravitas to Kalle’s powerful, monolithic sounding guitars. What you always get with this superb musician is tons of melody though, the often riotous and dynamic guitars giving every note an edge but a very tuneful one. Two is another plethora of monstrous riffs that combines with Marco Minnemann’s mighty drumming to deliver an all-encompassing, forceful track that has a definite thoughtful underbelly at times. The calming sections where Kalle’s guitar takes things back a notch are a touch of genius and lay a veil of refinement over things.
As already mentioned, Three is the one and only vocal track on the album but it opens with a stirring guitar from Kalle over Marco’s potent drumbeat. Arno Menses has a voice just made for tracks like this and he puts in a stellar performance on this pensive, slow burning song, especially on the electrifying chorus, it’s the emotionally intense guitar playing that is the highlight though. There’s a funky note to the opening of Four that gives it a vibe not unlike Faith No More, all staccato notes, fat grooves and a restless drumbeat. Kalle’s piercing guitar lends a contrast to that alt-metal feel, the guitar solo towards the end is inspired, it’s a clever and inventive piece of music.
Five basically sees all the musicians turn things up to 11 and is an incendiary four minutes of compelling and authoritative music where everyone just seems to be having an utter blast! I really like Six, Kalle Wallner has always been an excellent musician and songwriter but, here on ‘Voices’, he really seems to have gone up another level. The songwriting is superlative and his guitar playing just gets better and better. This piece of music is reflective and contemplative while also having the satisfyingly punchy foundation of guitar and drums when things start to get serious.
Seven.Out is a thoughtful almost melancholy eleven minutes of wistful serenity and closes ‘Voices’ perfectly. The most intimate and heartfelt piece of music on the album, Kalle gets to show his more softer and sensitive side on this track with piercing, fervent guitar lines that really touch your heart and soul. There’s a sombre and plaintive edge to his guitar work and the meditative drumbeat mirrors this, it really leaves you in a reflective and thoughtful mood as this exemplary record comes to a close.
‘Voices’ is fifty minutes of utterly immersive music that really gets under your skin, there is an immediate need to listen to this bewitching album again. At times mesmerising and at others thunderously magnetic, I’d say it’s possibly this enigmatic musician’s finest piece of work in his twenty-six year career, it really is that good!
Released 25th February, 2022
Order from Gentle Art Of Music here: