German neo-proggers Karibow, 20 years into an award-winning career in their homeland, deliver a 72-minute concept album that, one imagines, is their big shot at a masterpiece.
From Here… doesn’t lift off as they want it to, but the ambition and unabashed grandiosity is certainly robust. Its mighty themes grasp to cover nothing short of the whole nine yards: life, love, death, the works. Over five sections, 11 tracks ask tough-to-answer questions like: can the rebellious spirit of youth survive the ageing process? Can passion last forever? Will your dreams outlast your mortality? And would you want them to? It’s all a long, long way from pop music’s roots of: do you wanna dance? Such existential dilemmas and probings require light and shade if they’re to fly. Karibow, led by main man Oliver Rusing, have muscle but stay too safely within one rather sullen strain, rarely digressing from that sturdy platform. When they get flowing they’re as impressive as Riverside, but in water-treading moments they’re Nickelback. Members of Saga, Unitopia and other guests usher it closer to Asia than Yes, while Harvest’s Monique van der Kolk’s voice offers a leavening contrast to Rusing’s gruffness. It toils sincerely.