2004 (The Laser’s Edge)
Anyone who makes his debut like Knight Area immediately has got it made. With “The Sun Also Rises” from 2004, brothers Gerben and Joop Klazinga have set the bar at Sergey Bubka-like heights to raise it a little higher every time, just like the famous pole vaulter did. Truth be told, Knight Area was backed by a fantastic America label for years, The Laser’s Edge, but it is really the band itself that deserves all credits.
Back to “The Sun Also Rises”, Knight Area’s debut, when they were still operating as a project. Gerben is responsible for all the lush keyboard parts that splashes out on this neo-prog album, he also played the drums on a couple of songs. He also writes the music and, together with his brother, and on top of that, he also produced and mixed the album. Joop co-wrote the lyrics and plays the flute on two songs. In addition, a good number of guest musicians were called in to do their trick.
It is typical that the group, despite Gerben’s enormous keyboard input, still has the unmistakable allure of a band. For starters, there’s the basics. The wonderfully melodic and throbbing playing of Gijs Koopman on his Rickenbaker bass guitar together with the adequate drumming of Gerben himself and Mark van Nieuwenhuizen always gives the music the right dynamics. The guitar interpretations (and certainly those of Peter van Heijningen who performs all of the lead) have a perfect framework, in which it’s clearly noticeable that van Heijningen’s guitar harmonizes beautifully with the keyboards. No matter how cool the music is, with a mediocre singer all efforts would have been in vain. Fortunately, it is a match made in heaven: Mark Smit can color this neo-prog vocally with his expressive, somewhat endearing voice.
Everyone is so well focused, wonderful things are happening.
After the short bombastic opener Beyond, nine songs pass by with the power of a stream of lava. It’s impossible to review only a few tracks, the music is constantly noteworthy and to stick to the lava metaphor: rarely was being buried so welcoming.
After the cinematic intro of the mini-epic The Gate Of Eternity, the album actually really starts. You’ll get completely blown away in less than seven minutes. We successively hear plaintive vocals, a melodic guitar with full keyboard playing, Kayak-like accordion stuff and metal that is interrupted by a guitar solo and beautiful flute playing. Particularly the latter change of atmosphere makes this good CD a truly fantastic one.
Conspiracy and Forever Now are strong Knight Area songs in which Gerben immortalizes himself as a neo-prog keyboardist. The melodic, catchy vocal lines of Conspiracy, but also those of Conviction, are the anchor points of the album as far as I’m concerned.
The instrumental title track The Sun Also Rises is equally strong, Gerben manages to make the lava boil quite a bit. If you think there are no volcanoes in Boskoop (place of birth of both brothers), you are completely wrong, it is a great eruption in the vein of Clive Nolan. However, most awe-inspiring is the song Mortal Brow. There is a pleasant alternation between Mark Smit and guest singer Stephanie Lagrande, the mellotron chords are reminiscent of Marillion’s Grendel and the finale is unparalleled. After Mood Inspiring Clouds and A New Day At Last, where the flute once again makes a difference, Knight Area ends the album with the instrumental Saevis Tranquillis In Undis. It was no surprise that Knight Area has significantly forged ahead following this album. Unavoidably, after a debut like this. A year later they already found themselves on stage at the prestigious NEARfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (USA). What do you mean ‘they’ve got it made’?
© Dick van der Heijde 2022