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Kaiser Architekt - 'Spies Like Me'

posted 10 Mar 2014, 16:32 by Paul Woodward
(Kaiser Architekt)

Review by Woody

I have to admit the premise behind this band was a bit of a turn off for me and I’m sure it may put off others and they also state they are espionage pop rock which will have everyone raising their eyebrows and muttering what the hell is that! They state they have taken their inspiration from the spy films of the 1960’s, you know ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E’ and all that sort of kitsch retro spy stuff although what type of sound that indicates they have is anyone’s guess before taking a listen. So I was not looking forward to this album one bit as I hate, no check that, I HATE concept albums.

After my first play through I instantly thought they sound absolutely nothing like the bands I’m told in their PR that they sound like, most the bands were either modern favourites or famous worldwide acts and it left me wondering if the person who wrote the PR hadn’t just picked a bunch of bands at random to garner maximum interest and curiosity in these guys. The pop rock tag does suit their style and brings Yes and Asia to my mind especially as both bands utilise prog elements in their sound, but neither of these acts were mentioned, in fact not even close!

There’s a strong whimsical and ethereal sense to their sound, with smooth vocals and often beautiful and enchanting melodies. Lyrically they do go all spy rock on us to a degree, but the whole spy concept is very much on the surface and doesn’t play a huge part in the band’s sound. The Prog element does keep coming back to me and, I think it’s mainly because Mr Web’s vocal style makes me think of Hogarth era Marillion. The prog touches are very light but I did keep getting drawn back to Marillion even though every band listed in their sound alikes was a million miles away from them.

The music is very much piano and keyboard lead which appeals to my own personal tastes and I of course appreciate the multi layered music they create so it’s no surprise to me that the instrumental ‘DNA001’ is one of my favourite tracks. The guitars may not be rampant but are subtly used to maximum effect with haunting licks that make the songs even more ethereal. Lyrically it left me totally cold, but that is of course down to personal taste and the lyrics are a reflection of the bands persona.

Not really for me if I’m honest, but there is some strong musicianship here especially in the piano / keyboard playing that should make fans of Yes, Asia and Marillion sit up and take notice.