Back at the beginning, there were only a handful of American Progressive bands in the GG/Yes/Genesis breed of the form – Pavlov’s Dog and Kansas were definitely in the forefront and it is Kansas who have been making fresh and new music for all these years (46 at last count).
I have to admit to being shocked at how fresh and lively this album sounds, their debut album in 1974 had the same feeling of excitement and heart but that was a long hard road ago.
The band is currently comprised of original drummer Phil Ehart, bassist/vocalist Billy Greer, vocalist/keyboardist Ronnie Platt, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, keyboardist/vocalist Tom Brislin, guitarist Zak Rizvi, and original guitarist Richard Williams but they have the same principles as the original members and this is unmistakably Kansas from the opening track to the last.
The music has power and a complex layering of the instruments and Ragsdale plays some stunning violin passages while their pacing and variations in rhythm keep the music constantly changing.
The mammoth ‘Circus Of Illusion’ is probably the standout number, capturing all the elements of Kansas’ music in one classic number – the complex time signatures, vaulting keyboards and violin and Ehart’s drumming crossing over the soundstage, anchoring the music.
The title track opens with a piano, segueing into violin and creating a melancholy tone before opening up to a fulsome workout for the whole band before the theme tales over – in 30 seconds all the features of Kansas.
Tracks such as ‘Throwing Mountains’ and ‘Propulsion 1’ demonstrate that the current line up really can lay down rock with power and passion.
The album is a delight and shows the band still creating music that is searching and making the listener work.