Through a clearing in the foliage a solitary figure is perched on top of a precarious pyramid of abandoned ageing tyres, silhouetted against a sweeping azure bay from which a coastline of derelict, crumbling buildings emerge in various states of skeletal incompleteness, adorned with vegetation as nature reclaims lost ground and framed against a shrouded horizon ill lit by a murky, misty sun.
Oliver Rüsing’s powerfully evocative cover, along with the gorgeous artwork which adorns the 20 page booklet accompanying the ninth Karibow release From Here To The Impossible, merits closer scrutiny and consideration before the CD even hits the platter. As a stark and almost brutal visual metaphor for what you are about to hear, the message it conveys is as compelling as it is poignant.
Despite the dreams we harbour and the careful plans we make, life rarely goes as we would wish. Everything changes; nothing remains the same. The energy and ambition of our youth crashes against and is washed up on the shorelines of the limitations we face. The burning desire to change the world, our passion, our dreams, our hopes are forged in the burning fires of experience and gradually extinguished by the realities of daily life, the fears which hold us back and the restrictions placed or forced upon us.
The consuming focus from Holophinium (2016) carries over to the new album. Being human is a struggle. But Rüsing’s focus has evolved; the story is no longer about the vitality and the vulnerability of being alive but on the ways in which we plot the directions we can take, the plans we make and remake, crumble or are crushed, to be rebuilt again. Life is a glorious journey of vision and re-vision. We continually build and rebuild. Everything is in perpetual flux. And in the midst of it all, passion is regained and hope is reborn. We dare to dream once more: we aspire from here to the impossible.
What strikes you instantly as you listen to the music is the drumming. Imposing, incisive and deliciously complex, its slight elevation in the mix creates the driving, dynamic and fiercely creative momentum which underpins the album. The tone is set by the dramatic and powerful jungle-esque opening of Here (Track 1), a narrative heartbeat and a startling call to wake up, confront our fears and fight for what we want.
The energy and strength of both the music and the message carries over to My Time of Your Life (Track 2). The pensive defiance enshrined in the lyric “my generation has a right to fight”, both whispered and sung, is echoed in a glorious question-and-response passage of keyboard and piano. Time may well wash away what we once held close to our hearts, but there is “still a chance for us to change the world with love and passion” (Passion, Track 3).
Never Last (Track 4) brings us, literally, to the heart of the matter with a gloriously soulful and richly melodic change of pace. The opening sentiment is whispered in our ears: “My heart is not independent, but do you think I am less than the least of all”. A delightfully restless bass line gracefully carries us through to a scintillating sax riff which is a joy to lose yourself in, eventually bringing us to rest in a beautifully hypnotic and calming narration provided by Monique van der Kolk.
Throughout the album, the interplay of the various instruments with each other is captivating. The fluid interactions create lavish walls of sound comprised of elegant shifting textures and complex, innovative arrangements. Rüsing assembles a dazzling cast of superb musicians and perceptively weaves their distinctive contributions into the flow and direction of the story.
Daniel Lopresto’s vocals in System of a Dream (Track 9) provide a grittier edge that speaks of pain, weariness and raw emotion. Sean Timms unleashes an enthralling mosaic of keyboard solos which dance and sparkle with vitality and restrained discipline. Mark Trueack brings a change of texture again on The Impossible (Track 11), creating a wonderfully nuanced call-and-response passage with Rüsing himself, leading to a building crescendo and the glorious cry: “I understand what I know can set me free, set me free!”
From Here to the Impossible is an impressive, deeply ambitious album which captures the imagination and gracefully enfolds you within layers of melodic complexity and unexpected musical delights. It will not give itself up to easy or casual listening. You will need to spend time with it; you will need to listen, to absorb and even, in places, to wrestle with where the signposts, markers and arrangements are trying to take you. And by the end you will be ready to believe that we still have it within us to change the world. Our dreams and passions make a difference, despite and in spite of the limitations which surround us.
Format: CD Digipack
Label: Progressive Promotion Records (PPRCD050)
Band Website: http://www.karibow.com/
This review originally appeared for Progradar