Kansas “The Absence Of Presence” (InsideOut)

I’ve been a fan of Kansas since the early seventies, and I’ve followed the bands through their ups and downs. From the progressive and orchestral first Steve Walsh period, via the more easily accessible melodic John Elefante era, the Steve Morse-era, back to the slightly uneven second Steve Walsh period. After Steve Walsh decided to leave the band a second time, he was replaced by singer Ronnie Platt who made his debut on the 2016 album “The Prelude Implicit.”

Ronnie sounds quite a lot like bass player Billy Greer, who’s a lot like Steve Walsh. Another new guy on the previous album was guitarist Zak Rizvi, while original members, drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams are still in the band. Here’s also Billy Greer and David Ragsdale, who has been with the group for many years now, while Tom Brislin, on keyboards and vocals, is a new face on this album.” The Absence Of Presence” opens up with the title track, which sounds as much classic Kansas as it possibly can A more than an eight-minute-long journey, going from melodic rock through orchestral passages.”

A significant number. “Throwing Mountains” kicks off with a surprisingly heavy guitar riff, to proceed into a slightly softer verse, but still sounding like Kansas in beautiful shape. “Jets Overhead” continues in the same vein, and I now have to say that this is the best I’ve heard from Kansas since their heydays!” Propulsion 1″ is a short instrumental piece that brings to mind the band’s Steve Morse era. A proggy and lovely intermission.

“Memories Down The Line” takes it down to a soft piano ballad level. Even if the song may be a bit cheesy in verse, the nice pompy mid-section takes it up a few notches and makes up for it, where also the following verse has been enhanced with an excellent orchestral backdrop.
In its context, a lovely song.” Circus of Illusion” starts with the classic violin solo, continues into a proggy section and a nicemeodsic verse. I have to say that this, still, is a damn fine album!” Animals On The Roof” continues in the same vein with a delightful musical rollercoaster where melodic parts go into odd rhythms and proggy solos.
“Never,” again, takes it down to a soft piano ballad level, but here it gradually evolves without being all prog rock. The album finishes with “The Song The River Sang, “Opens with some pretty intricate rhythms and riffs. The verse shows a slightly different side of the band, and it’s positive, and then classic Kansas moves come back in! An excellent and, at times, pretty intense thing that keeps the listener’s interest up. A highly surprising and abrupt ending, though! Can we hope for a sequel, maybe? An outstanding album with all the ingredients I could’ve wished for from a top-notch Kansas album.

Despite several of the original members missing, I can’t say I miss them when listening to the LP. Sure, I wouldn’t say no to a couple of licks from Kerry Livgren, and some Steve Walsh vocals (from back in the day when his voice was in top shape), or maybe a violin solo from Robbie Steinhardt, but no, I can’t say I miss it when listening to the album.
The new members, and the old ones, of course, do outstanding work, and the album sounds just like a kick-ass Kansas album should. What more could I asked!
Kansas, Category: Artist, Albums: Howling At The Moon (Live 1976), Wheels and Other Rarities, Leftoverture Live & Beyond, The Prelude Implicit, The Prelude Implicit (Deluxe Edition), Singles: Jets Overhead, Memories Down the Line, Throwing Mountains, Dust in the Wind (Live in US 2017), Carry On Way…

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By Janne Stark

I'm a Swedish guitarist, writer, and record collector. I've recorded a bunch of albums/C.D.s with bands like OVERDRIVE, LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, BALLS, MOUNTAIN OF POWER, ZELLO, PLANET ALLIANCE, plus made guest appearances on stuff by NARNIA, AUDIOVISION, CHRIS CATENA, FAITH, BLINDED COLONY, THALAMUS, M.O.B., TOWER OF STONE, VII GATES, etc. I'm currently involved in the following bands/projects: GRAND DESIGN, MOUNTAIN OF POWER, OVERDRIVE, ZOOM CLUB, and CONSTANCIA. I've been writing for magazines like FUZZ, Backstage, Kool Kat News, Hard Roxx, Sweden Rock Magazine, etc. I still write for, and, plus I'm the author of the three volumes of "The Encyclopedia of Swedish Hard Rock And Heavy Metal"! I have a lovely wife, two crazy cats and two beautiful daughters.