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KARIBOW

Crossover Prog • Germany


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Karibow biography
KARIBOW is a German Crossover Prog band founded by Oliver RÜSING in late 1996. In the nineties RÜSING played with multiple projects including LAST TURION, COUNTERPARTS, CHINOOK, MAQUIS, MC WEST AND THE CANADIAN SWELL GUYS and many more, working as a live drummer, drum teacher and studio musician in Europe and North America. As he progressed through his bands, he picked up multiple influences and styles that would eventually create the foundation that would be KARIBOW. The end result is an award winning project with strong roots in Progressive Rock, Electronic Music and Album Oriented Rock.

The band originally started as a studio oriented project with RÜSING's influences shown on their earliest albums, "Shush" (released in 1997 as the GREEN WATER PROJECT), "Supernatural Foe" (1998) and "Three Times Deeper" (1999). The band took on a more mainstream rock sound from 2000-2007 recording several albums including "Tribal Avenue" (2001) and a soundtrack for "The Ayganyan Project One" (2005).

KARIBOW's progressive past finally showed up again on the concept album "A History of Inorganic Talk" (2007). Three and a half years later, "Man Of Rust" achieved the German Rock & Pop Award in the Best Arrangement category in 2011. KARIBOW's latest album "Addicted" was released in November 2014.

The band has focused more and more on live performances, with the current (May, 2015) line up of Oliver RÜSING (vocals, guitars), Chris THOMAS (guitars), Markus BERGEN (keyboards), Gerald NAHRGANG (drums/percussion) and Thomas WISCHT (bass). In December 2014, KARIBOW had the privilege to be honored with the German Rock & Pop Award again, this time as Best Progressive Band 2014.

::Bio written by Oliver Rüsing, edited by Roland113::

Karibow official website

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Buy KARIBOW Music


HolophiniumHolophinium
Import
CD Baby 2016
Audio CD$25.19
$14.44 (used)
From Here to the ImpossibleFrom Here to the Impossible
Import
CD Baby 2017
Audio CD$13.44
AddictedAddicted
Import
CD Baby 2014
Audio CD$16.99
Man of RustMan of Rust
Import · Special Edition
CD Baby 2016
Audio CD$16.99
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KARIBOW discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KARIBOW top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Supernatural Foe - Vocalized
1998
4.00 | 1 ratings
Tribe
2000
5.00 | 1 ratings
Tribal Avenue
2001
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Ayganyan Project 1 (Original Soundtrack)
2007
5.00 | 1 ratings
A History of Inorganic Talk
2007
4.04 | 6 ratings
Man of Rust
2011
3.96 | 9 ratings
Addicted
2014
3.88 | 62 ratings
Holophinium
2016
4.26 | 16 ratings
From Here To The Impossible
2017

KARIBOW Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

KARIBOW Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

KARIBOW Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Echoes From The Evil Past - The Best Of 1997-2005 Remastered
2006

KARIBOW Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Three Times Deeper
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Besser
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
Inorganic Talk (Acoustic)
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Hollow Be My World II
2009

KARIBOW Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 From Here To The Impossible by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.26 | 16 ratings

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From Here To The Impossible
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Oliver Rüsing is on a roll. His band's latest album, "From Here to the Impossible" seems to have done what a year ago might have been inconceivable: KariBow has topped "Holophinium".

But wait a moment! Back up, you say? KariBow? Holophinium? What's that? A garden shrub?

KariBow is a band project started by Oliver Rüsing way back in 1996. It was a six-piece outfit to begin with, but over the years members left and at last Oliver was the sole member. Working as an art professor and drum teacher, Oliver kept KariBow alive by writing and recording new material and releasing albums in small runs. Oliver is a talented song writer, composer, drummer, guitar player, and singer, and he seems to have no trouble handling bass and keyboards, plus he can record and mix everything on his own, and he does all the artwork to boot. Who needs a band when you can do all that?

But KariBow's releases were largely a private affair. That was until he recorded "Man of Rust" in 2011 and his wife encouraged him to submit it to the German Rock & Pop Musicians' Association and it won an award for best arrangement. Three years later, "Addicted" won the same award. Realising that he had something going on here, Oliver Rüsing began an ambitious project that would include guest musicians such as Michael Saddler (SAGA), Sean Timms (Southern Empire), and Colin Tench (Corvus Stone). It culminated in the double disc "Holophinium" which was released last year. The album proved to be a tremendous success as KariBow toured with SAGA. At the time, only "Addicted" was available from the back catalogue, but inspired by the great live reception, Oliver remixed and rereleased "Man of Rust" in the fall of 2016. And then this year in July came "From Here to the Impossible".

What makes any of the four recent albums work so well is Oliver's ability to write memorable, catchy melodies in an AOR format and blend in progressive passages or sneak in complex music beneath the melodies and beautiful choruses. Though "Addicted" and "Man of Rust" are less obviously progressive rock works (they are though!), "Holophinium" saw KariBow reaching for new heights. It was as if KariBow's music had come of age, smartly marrying melodic adult rock with modern progressive endeavors. And it's my opinion that "From Here to the Impossible" has taken one more step upwards.

Once again, KariBow delivers catchy and memorable melodies and once again the more complex passages are there. Right off the bat, we are treated to some of that in the first track "Here". But KariBow is more than just odd time signatures and stop/start rock. Once more Oliver has taken aboard a cast of outside talent and since last year also has a proper band to play live (one member joking that they were a KariBow cover band because they play live the music that KariBow wrote and recorded). This time we have Jim Gilmour of SAGA on keyboards, Sean Timms and Daniel Lopresto of Southern Empire bringing in piano/sax and guitars respectively (Daniel sings lead on "System of a Dream"), Monique Van Der Kolk of Harvest adding her beautiful vocals, Marek Arnold of Seven Steps to the Green Door and Toxic Smile contributing sax, piano and keyboards, and Mark Trueack of United Progressive Fraternity singing some backing vocals.

This team has created an album that goes where none of the other KariBow albums have gone before. Monique's vocals are angelic and complement Oliver's so well. The sax work on "Black Air" and "Never Last" is stellar, the whole instrumental intro to the former track being just superbly wonderful. And there's some orchestral arrangement for "Requiem".

Going beyond that, though, KariBow gives us harder edged rock in tracks like "Passion" and "Lost Peace" and contrasts that with such soothing ear candy in "Inside You", "Never Last" and the intros for "Crescent Man" and "Black Air". Songs are never entirely predictable because a harder-edged song might ease back and turn over a pretty melody or a softer track might crack a snare drum and slam down a power chord and change gear. One thing for certain is that for those who prefer their rock to not get too hard and heavy or too technical, KariBow is an easy choice then.

As with last year's "Holophinium", I feel KariBow have produced a very strong album that combines progressive rock with melodic rock. But it's my impression that the band has really struck just the right balance here. The music is truly coming to the forefront. Well done Oliver Rüsing and company!

 From Here To The Impossible by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.26 | 16 ratings

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From Here To The Impossible
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

I don't often receive CDs these days, a combination of many labels now using digital downloads for promotional purposes and living at the bottom of the world. So, I was pleased to firstly see a padded envelope, and even more pleased when I saw what was inside it as this is a beautifully put together release. A digipak, with great artwork, there is also a twelve-page booklet with all the lyrics, even more art, and details of who played on what song. This time Karibow have brought in some guests, but to all intents and purposes this isn't a band release but a project being run by Oliver R'sing, who on some numbers provides virtually all the instrumentation as well as the vocals. The clear majority of the songs feature Oliver and just one or two others, but as he is involved to such a high degree it does mean that there is continuity and a band feel.

The seventy-two-minute-long concept album is a neo-progressive masterpiece with great songs, wonderful vocals, and lots of different styles being displayed, with influences from IQ and U2 through Porcupine Tree and Steve Hackett. From the beginning to the end there is a feeling of direction and depth, with different effects being provided to provide emphasis. This could be the delicate use of saxophone, or wonderful duets between Oliver and Monique Van Der Kolk (Harvest). The result is a well-produced modern progressive rock album that will appeal to all fans of the genre.

 Man of Rust by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.04 | 6 ratings

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Man of Rust
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What a year 2016 has been! It's been such a tragic one because of all the high-profile musicians and actors who have left us or, in the case of the cancer victims, been taken from us. Others of less renown have also slipped away. However, the universe requires balance, and while we've been saddened by so many losses, I have been watching as musicians in my circle of friends and acquaintances have been enjoying a burst of success this year. One such artist is Oliver Rüsing and his band KariBow.

Oliver first formed KariBow as a six-piece band somewhere near the end of 1996, but as other obligations pressed upon the lives of each member the band dissolved. Oliver himself went on to be an art professor and word is that he was also a drum teacher. But Oliver has a gift for writing songs and composing and playing music. KariBow became a personal project for which, if I have this correctly, he wrote, composed, played all instruments (guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums), recorded, and produced all on his own. A steady succession of albums followed over the years, released in small numbers and not for a broader market beyond friends and a small interested fan base.

That began to change in 2011 with the release of "Man of Rust". His very wise and perceptive wife told him to stop making albums for the shelves and to get his music out there. Oliver submitted the album to the German Rock & Pop Musicians' Association (DRMV) and it was chosen for the award of best arrangement. Three years later, he released "Addicted" and it too won the same award, this time for best progressive band. That led to Oliver's most ambitious project yet, the phenomenal "Holophinium", a full album of progressive melodic rock with a band and a cast of stellar guests including Sean Timmins, Colin Tench, and Michael Saddler of Saga. A second disc featuring the multipart 37-minute track "Letters from the White Room" was part of the package. KariBow toured with Saga and have since played some festivals in Germany as well. With KariBow's fan base suddenly growing, an interest developed in earlier albums (at the time of the release of "Holophinium", only "Addicted" was also available on CD and "Man of Rust" was a download only). Oliver, fresh of the tour with Saga, took a brief holiday and then jumped back into the studio. The result is a re-release of "Man of Rust", remixed and remastered, with three extra studio tracks not included on the original version..

In an interview, Oliver stated that he weighed heavily the choices of simply remastering the album and re-recording the songs. A friend encouraged him to keep the originals, but Oliver felt some parts could be improved upon. So he decided to redo some parts but leave the rest and just remix the album. The new version of "Man of Rust" was released in October.

As to be expected from a KariBow album, there's a generous offering of heavy, melodic rock with many tracks hiding underlying complexities as well as a few more obvious progressive (i.e. longer an more complex) numbers. Oliver excels at writing beautiful catchy melodies, and songs like "Ceraneo", "The Big Y", and "Ceremony" are outstanding examples of his talent. The title track is probably the most complex song on the album moving through different changes to the music, sometimes quick and challenging, other times soothing or passionate. As with "Addicted", much of the album is beautiful, heavy melodic rock. Oliver doesn't try to make KariBow a progressive rock band; however, he's a creative person (he does all the album artwork himself, by the way) and when a song grows into something more than a four-minute melodic masterpiece, Oliver permits his muse to dictate the course.

Now in possession of all three KariBow CDs that are currently available, I was struck the other day with what may seem like a far-fetched comparison. Deep Purple's first two albums were similar in style though each still being distinct enough from one another. Their third, self-titled album was to me, farther reaching into prog territory. I feel "Man of Rust" and "Addicted" also share a commonality and "Holophinium" is the album that sounds more like a full-blown modern "prog" album. Whatever the case may be, I recommend all three albums to anyone who enjoys deep and rich melodic rock with a heavy guitar side and that also goes without restraint into more musically complex territory which earns KariBow a place in the progressive rock world.

 Holophinium by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 62 ratings

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Holophinium
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by guspanet

4 stars KARIBOW - Holophinium (2 CD) - 2016 Progressive Promotion Records

Staff: Oliver Rusing: Lead and backing vocals, drums, guitars, bass, keyboards. Michael Sadler: Lead and backing vocals on ¨River¨(Saga) Sean Timms: Piano and keyboard solos on ¨Quantum Leap¨(Unitopia) Colin Tench: Solo guitars on ¨Part of the Century¨ Karsten Stiers: Additional lead and backing vocals on ¨Orbital Spirits¨ Jurg Eschrig: Mandolina on ¨Walk on Water¨, additional vocals on ¨Holophinium¨ Daniel Neustadt: Fretless bass on ¨Angel Scent¨ and ¨Moon¨ Chris Thomas: Acoustic guitars on ¨Some Will Fall¨ Markus Bergen: Keyboard solo on ¨E.G.O.¨

Tracks: CD1: The Fragments 01. Distant Movements (01:44) 02. Holophinium (06:06) 03. E.G.O. (11:28) 04. Victims of Light (06:55) 05. Some Will Fall (04:07) 06. Connection Refused (04:35) 07. River (06:04) 08. Angel Scent (05:59) 09. King (05:04) 10. Quantum Leap (08:59)

CD2: Letter from the White Room 01. Moon (Part I) (02:15) 02. Walk on Water (Part II) (07:35) 03. Orbital Spirits (Part III) (05:04) 04. Eden (Part IV) (06:39) 05. Lifelong (Part V) (07:53) 06. Part of the Century (Part VI) (02:52) 07. Plutonian (Part VII) (03:52)

In Germany, Oliver Rüsing, at finals of 1996, created musical project by himself and he named Karibow. With 17 albums done, the originally drummer and then multiinstrumentalist, he composed, played and recorded all by himself, with occasionals guests. With mix of styles including IQ, Saga, Marillion (with Fish), etc., this band AOR Crossover Prog released in march 2016 double cd with outstanding conditions, named Holophinium, with more progressive rock like the last work: Addicted of 2014, winner of two prizes in Germany. This new work of Rüsing, with additional great musicians, begins with CD1 called The Fragments, which consist of 10 tracks, with: ¨Holophinium¨, ¨E.G.O.¨, ¨Victims of Light¨, ¨River¨ and ¨Quantum Leap¨ like the more intense . The CD 2: Letter from the White Room, represents an epic suite in itself, consisting of 7 parts, and with a more complex structure than The Fragments, with lyrics that tells about a letter who is writed by an astronaut in the white room, previous entering the spaceship. In the matter of music is similar like a rock opera with all the themes like part of a great project. Neither covers and booklet nor music and lyrics, try to define a high evolution work with solid and beautiful compositions, to obtain a musical mix because of the staff with Oliver in first place but near a few steps, excellent musicians like Sean Timms from Unitopia and Michael Sadler of Saga, to mention some of them. Ending this brief review, this double CD, in my opinion, represents the beginning of a long road in progressive rock, which certainly will have the attention of fans with this music genre. Highly recommendable.

Gustavo Panetta

 Addicted by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.96 | 9 ratings

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Addicted
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the brilliant success of this year's "Holophinium" album, KariBow frontman Oliver Rusing decided to remix and release the album "Man of Rust" from 2011. It will be released shortly, by the way.

In between these two albums was "Addicted" (2014). Though I haven't heard "Man of Rust" yet, I know "Holophinium" is a wonderful adventure in melodic crossover prog rock. "Addicted's" main feature is the remarkably beautiful vocal melodies and very adult contemporary melodic rock style. Listen to the first track "Change" and you'll know what I mean. Song after song has beautiful and memorable melodies, so much so that you could almost imagine getting tired of them. But you can't! At least I can't.

But with all those lovely songs that sound like they are more mainstream music - mature, intelligent, and well-crafted mind you - you shouldn't toss the album aside for being too pop. Though not as obviously in progressive country as "Holophinium", "Addicted" does set a few footprints there and early on, too! The second track, "Primeval", stretches out to include a more atmospheric part in the middle. Later "Collaborator" sticks a cool bass line in your face. "F8A1 Ba6" is the first track to really throw progressive-type music at you and lets you understand the band is not only having fun but are good at doing something more lively and challenging. The final track "9/16" is also a longer one and concludes with a powerful and melodic climax.

All the other tracks in between sway between simpler-sounding mainstream melodic AOR and somewhat more complex music added into mainstream melodic rock. But Mr. Rusing says that the music on "Addicted" can be easily enjoyed for its obvious melodies while some of the more complex parts of the music escape the unwary ear.

I'd say that if you consider a band like Saga who have done a number of very good, more mainstream-oriented albums, or Rush who applied prog experience to shorter songs, you can imagine how KariBow, with a strong prog background, could produce an album of such memorable melodies (I see special collaborator Angelo has likened KariBow to Toto and Survivor) . No, this is not obviously challenging or adventurous music. But it's an album that is very beautifully and expertly done.

 Holophinium by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 62 ratings

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Holophinium
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Back in the early 70s, when the Golden Age of Prog was dominating the charts, the airwaves and the record stores, at a time when the Internet was still a hippie hallucination in some Seattle geek's mind, the only real source of information was the credit listings that would adorn the vinyl albums. I started already back then compiling my favorite musician names and seeking out other projects they may have been involved with. It was great way of shopping, a myriad of cataloged hints and clues combined with imagination or the odd published review in some prog magazine (France had both Rock 'n Folk, Best). Today, we have so many more resources to add to this mix, but in purchasing Karibow's latest opus, the 2cd "Holophinium", I was triggered to purchase by hearing that the irascible Colin Tench, a guitar virtuoso of the highest order was involved in this project and that got me imagining things. Then I read that Michael Sadler of Saga fame was also involved with this hitherto unknown to me German band. Time to remind everyone that Canadian band Saga was HUGE in Germany, more so than anywhere else and by a zillion miles. Finally Unitopia keyboardist Sean Timms also appeared on the horizon and I made the plunge rather comfortably.

Sinking one's teeth into a massive double Cd of new music is always a colossal challenge for even the experienced pundit, so I began researching a bit more and thus finding out that Karibow is actually quite a well-known rock act in Germany, both on record and in concert. Leader Oliver Rüsing is a very capable vocalist (a bit like Iva Davies of Icehouse in a way) as well as an über-talented multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer who particularly shines on the drum kit but is equally adept at the keys, bass and guitars, while leading a seasoned guest list along for a convincing ride into progressive realms. While the music is perhaps more upfront prog rock with AOR leanings with occasional daubs of electronica, truth is there is a lot to sink your musical teeth into, the drum work in particular showing some oomph and well as dexterity, expertly displayed on the title track and neatly followed by the luscious "E.G.O.", an eleven and a half minute frolic that sets the tone for the remaining set of songs. Why wait until later to impress right away, nicht wahr? It features an immediately appealing structure, a terrific rhythmic carpet on which slippery synths forage through a swift arrangement that is both luminous and exhilarating. Oliver's lead vocals are a true delight, both convincing and bright, draping suavely over a solid melody, the ending has a sublime symphonic crescendo that is to die for, sparkling lead guitar shining towards the horizon. Truly 'ausgezeichnet'!

It becomes very critical for a 97 minute opus to be architecturally sound, yet always on the lookout for another thrill, in order to keep the pleasure nodes stimulated. The judicious placement of songs becomes quite apparent as the amazing "E.G.O." is followed up by "Victims of Light", a more arena-rock styled piece that has a divine chorus that would grace any anthem, muscular polyrhythmic drums on the forefront and Oliver's whispering and then bellowing vocals. This is followed by the sweeping ballad "Some Will Fall" and its sorrowful groan, melancholic clouds floating in the air, mirrored pools of reflective thought as the sun goes down majestically, an acoustic and then electric guitar along for the drive. Things get jaunty and quirky with "Connection Refused", definitely stop and go rhythms and another breath-taking vocal, keeping things breathtakingly interesting.

Another massive highpoint is the splendid "River", a Michael Sadler's cameo appearance on a deliriously enjoyable track that is augmented by its overt Ian Crichton?like guitar buzz, those serpentine synths, Sadler's immediately evident voice and a drum beat that would rekindle memories of the binary monster that Steve Negus once was. There is little doubt that this is the best Saga song never penned by Saga, a luminous reverberation of a flowing melody that meanders along, determined and focused to arrive at some delta paradise. "Angel Scent" has this lyric 'Your emotional symphony is unpredictable' that made me gasp audibly, neatly placed within a lilting dirge, with hushed vocals and another thumping drum track, surprised by a sensual saxophone blurt out of nowhere , that again caught me unawares. The guitar-launched mood here is urgent and passionate, near to Anathema and Pineapple Thief territory. Guest Daniel Neustadt really shines on fretless bass. The relatively straight forward "King" is enjoyable in its determined forcefulness, with vocals that are straight out of the 80s, and some passion-fueled lyrics.

Another perfect piece on the first CD is its final one as "Quantum Leap" does its title justice by flinging this jewel well forward into nirvana, expertly marshaled by Australian Sean Timms' delightful keyboards, a very underrated talent that needs to be further discovered (try Unitopia and Southern Empire). Oliver's gorgeous voice, explicit guitars, bass and drum work really boost this into the stratosphere. Wunderbar!

To stamp their career with outright prog stamp (earlier material was a tad more accessible and ear-friendly), Karibow introduce a second CD that contains an extra 37 minutes of musical joy and adventure. Sub-titled "Letter from the White Room", this 7 part suite details the space race, a unique event in the late 60s and early 70s that was THE major topic of conversation in homes, workplaces and schools all around the world, when man sought out its destiny of exploration by forcefully going where no man had gone before. The Moon and beyond was the target, not only of human urgency but also out of political necessity. Space travel deeply affected those chosen to discover the outer universe and many an astro/cosmo-naut came back altered and perhaps even illuminated by something beyond our bland humanity. Buzz Aldrin in particular has a few interviews on the net that may seem bizarre. And yet?Musically, the electronics take a greater hold over the material in a more progressive pursuit, fusing into the mix a classic instrument like the sublime mandolin (on the mercurial "Walk on Water", an epic little gem) , while "Orbital Spirits" will give guest Karsten Stiers the front stage to show off his vocal talents. On the spiritual lullaby "Eden", Oliver's voice really reminds of Iva Davies, easily one of Australia's finest vocalists, what with the long held notes, the hushed tendencies in counterpoint and the ability to push the lungs further along. The extended epic "Lifelong" takes the smooth path in orbiting the pleasure nodes, circling patterns of delightful sound and passionate power, in a rather dreamy and moody expanse that morphs constantly into new sonic realms. Tinkling piano and diaphanous voice add to the desire. Colin Tench (Corvus Stone, CTP) gets to molest his fret board on "Part of The Century" and he absolutely never disappoints, quite the contrary as he is a brilliant axeman (and occasional humorous loon) with a storied recent career. Finally, with "Plutonian", the aural travellers land back on earth, deliriously satisfied and enthralled, flush with excitement and adventure.

Oliver Rüsing is quite the talented artist, a wizard and a true star. His slavish work here oozes devotion and determination, as everything is spot on, crystalline production, lush artwork, instrumental prowess and sensational vocals all built around thoughtful compositions. Currently on tour, one can only aspire to even higher praise in the future.

4.5 Lunar Briefs

 Holophinium by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 62 ratings

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Holophinium
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars German project KARIBOW is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Oliver Rusing. It has been an ongoing venture ever since 1996, and so far, more than a dozen Karibow albums have been released, although the greater majority of them appear to have been low-key productions in terms of PR and marketing. But from 2011 and onward this project has risen in stature due to recognition from the music industry in Germany, to the point that Karibow in 2016 for the first time has also been expanded from a one-man studio project into a real band for live purposes. "Holophinium" is the album most heavily promoted for these live events. This double CD was released through the German label Progressive Promotion Records in the spring of 2016.

What Karibow/Oliver Rusing has in common with many contemporary artists of a similar kind is that he's good at incorporating minor details in the arrangements, effective in incorporating multiple themes and arrangements into his compositions and manages to do this without the material becoming any less accessible by it. Music that is easy to listen to, and deceivingly so, but with liberal amounts of ear-candy to be uncovered by the avid listener, which, presumably, should make this production interesting to a fairly broad audience. As far as comparisons and references go, I'd suggest that those who enjoy listening to bands such as RPWL and Sylvan should have a go at this album. I'd expect the greater majority of them to appreciate the qualities of this double feature.

 Holophinium by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 62 ratings

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Holophinium
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

5 stars Once upon a time, in Germany, Oliver R'sing formed a one person musical project and called in Karibow. Over time, the project became his full time occupation, recording material with a total worth of 17 albums. As a multi-instrumentalist (but originally a drummer), he composed, played and recorded everything himself, with an occasional guest musician showing up here and there.

As I wrote last year in my review for the album Addicted, winning two prizes in Germany and getting the encouragement of his wife, he set up a live band for Karibow. As I witnessed their very first gig late last year, at the Blue Notez Club in Dortmund, only about 35 people, mostly invited guests were present. On a recent German tour with UK companions Saga, following the 2016 album release Holophinium, these 35 guests were succeeded with as much as 1200 paying visitors during a Munich gig. An overjoyed Oliver told me that they were even singing along to the previously released 'single' Victim of Light.

So what happened here? Easy: Oliver R'sing composed 97 minutes of solid rock music, released on a double CD set. Music that moves him at big step forward from the AOR oriented Addicted, toward a more progressive rock approach. The AOR side of the music is still present on Holphinium, but the more complex and progressive line of F8 Al Ba6 and the emotional 9/16 continued on this this album. The overall sound is perhaps best described as a mix of IQ, Saga, Pendragon with a dash of Marillion. Here and there I even spotted a pinch of Iron Maiden to add even more spice.

Holophinium consists of music that contains many layers, and each listen brings something new to the ear. One time it's the keyboard, the next a bass run or a drum pattern - and there are many of the latter! Due to this, the tracks are varied, yet similar enough to make it possible to recgonise it is all Karibow. The title track sets the stage for the rest of the album when it comes to that: synth and keyboard driven vocal parts, almost symphonic, are interleaved with heavier, metal influenced instrumentals and changing drum patterns. My favourite track of the album E.G.O. brings even more of that. Almost a prog rock epic, lyrically dealing with the cause and downside of egocentricity, and the need to reach out and love others than yourself as well. Oliver R'sing brought in two external vocalists on this album (Michael Sadler on Rivers and Karsten Stiers on Orbital Spirits), but using his own low, 80s influenced voice on this one was the best choice.

Next to these I was most happy with the have-the-audience-sing-along-but-not-a-pop-rock-track Victims of Light, the beautiful River, and Quantum Leap, which has a hypnotic drum pattern and great keyboard work by Sean Timms of Unitopia and Southern Empire.

All of these, and more, are on the more than enjoyable first CD of the set, called Fragments. The second CD contains what is advertised as a single, 36 minute track, consisting of 7 parts: Letter from the White Room. The lyrics (or part of them) form a letter, written from the perspective of an astronaut in the white room, the room from which they enter a space craft before launch. This 36 minute piece could have been an album in itself, and is even more layered and complicated in structure than the first CD. Moon starts as an almost vocal only introduction, followed by Walk on Water with an Iron Maiden like guitar riff, and then the 'suite' builds up in heaviness throughout the 4 parts - with beautiful interplay between all instruments - until it drops back to a slow, question endon Plutionian.

So, this is the perfect album then? No. I'm not going to let Karibow get away with this - if only because even though Oliver has been on it for almost 20 years, Karibow have only just begun. There are small flaws, and I would love to see them do an album as a band, not having everything done by Oliver himself. So, putting on a little bit of pressure here. But apart from a few small things, the only real issue I have with the album is it's length. I started playing it as two separate CDs, because 97 minutes really is a long time to listen to one album. Given that Letter from the White Room is almost an album by itself, it's not a big deal though - we got two album for the price of one. Now let's have Karibow enjoy life on stage, and with a bit of luck we'll get another album from them in 2017 or 2018. Definitely highly recommended!

Also published on my blog www.angelosrockorphanage.com

 Holophinium by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 62 ratings

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Holophinium
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you haven't heard of KariBow yet you can be excused. Although the band has some 15 albums (some of which are not full length, I presume), and although band leader Oliver Rüsing has issued an additional 6 or 7 albums under other band project titles prior to the founding of KariBow, many of the albums were limited edition pressings. When I recently inquired about purchasing older CDs, I was told that aside from the latest release, "Holophinium" and the previous album "Addicted", no other KariBow CDs are currently available, though "Man of Rust" is available as a download. This might change soon, however, as KariBow are currently on tour in Germany with SAGA and the feedback from the audience has been far above expectations. Demands for more KariBow albums could see near-future reissues of older recordings.

So what is stirring up all the fuss? KariBow's latest album "Holophinium": a double serving of crossover prog that blends strong AOR and catchy vocal melodies that will cling to your brain with a modern progressive sound that mixes heavier guitar rock with a synthesizer-inclusive neo-prog format. There are times when this album might make you think of IQ or Arena without the music sounding just like those bands.

On the previous album "Addicted", KariBow focused more on the melodic adult contemporary AOR rock style, filling it with beautiful choruses and that sweet kind of powerful layered guitar rock and less emphasis on the technical (i.e. progressive) side. If the kids would stop fighting in the car long enough, I am sure my wife would like this album. "Holophinium" maintains that style but dares to go further into the modern progressive sound, also adding in some heavier parts that go almost prog metal.

The first disc, entitled "Fragments", is a succession of separate tracks, contrary to the second disc, "Letter from the White Room", which plays out like a single epic divided into individual tracks that segue into each succeeding track. There is an atmosphere that pervades the whole album, and I find it very easy to slip into this soundscape and just go along for the ride. Aside from Rüsing's warm, passionate vocals, there are many great moments to catch along the way in the music as well as in the melodies. The album features several guests, including Michael Sadler of SAGA who sings wonderfully on "River", Colin Tench of Corvus Stone who embellishes "Part of the Century" with his lead guitar expertise, and Sean Timms of Unitopia and Southern Empire who plays some great keyboards on "Quantum Leap", and Karsten Stiers who takes lead vocal on "Orbital Spirits".

Recent reviews of the album have stated that this is one of those double albums that seems to end too soon. I personally find that there is something to discover in nearly every track and something to then look forward to with each subsequent listen. The second disc is only just over 36 minutes long and each part works well as an individual song, so this is not a tedious epic to trudge through. Careful attention has gone into crafting each track and the production captures the essence of the whole musical experience very nicely.

Aside from terrific song writing and musical performances, the digipak folds out in eight panels and includes a 32- page art booklet. It's an impressive package both visually and in melodic neo-progressive rock. Samples and a promotional video can be seen and heard on the official KariBow website.

 Addicted by KARIBOW album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.96 | 9 ratings

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Addicted
Karibow Crossover Prog

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars A perfect candidate for Angelo's Rock Orphanage. That is what Oliver Rüsing delivered under the name Karibow on the album Addicted. There is a tendency amongst progressive (or symphonic) rock fans to dismiss everything that is 'not prog enough'. As such, the band is missing amongst the list of bands and albums on many prog web sites, despite their bio states that they are influenced by (next to pop) rock and (neo)progressive rock, and they got the German Rock & Pop Award for Best Progressive Band in 2014. Exactly the type of band that led me to come up with the name Rock Orphanage.

Certainly, the prog influences are clear on this album, there is a lot of keyboard/synth work that goes beyond standard pop and rock tunes, even though the average track length of just over 3 minutes (not counting the two 8 1/2 minute tracks) makes it hard to build soundscapes or include many tempo (and time signature) changes. Luckily, Oliver Rüsing is very much aware of this - being one of those musicians that create the music they like (in this case already since 1997), without trying to fit a certain pigeon hole. As he told me himself: those who like AOR are as much an audience for Karibow as those who like progressive rock - with the track The Cry (Radio Edit) on the album as illustration. A radio ready rock track in the vain of perhaps Toto or Survivor, transferred to the 21st century - with vocals that contain a hint of Sting here and there.

16 tracks on a single album is a lot, and I won't do a track-by-track on such a lot anymore, as it makes reviews a pain to read. Instead, let's have a look at some highlight. First of all, there is indeed a lot of music on this album that is perhaps only borderline progressive rock, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Certainly not to those who have a soft spot for bands like Toto, Survivor or even Styx (all in their better days). Tracks like the ballad Primeval, or Place to Be, Always There and Something will not disappoint in that respect.

On top of that, there are more complex and rocky tracks that are certainly part of the progressive rock landscape, with the instrumental F8 Al Ba6 and the varied 9/16 as best examples. For F8 Al Ba6 I wrote in my notes "This is what is all about, a layered instrumental with a keyboard driven tune, nicely supported by the bass and a beautiful lead guitar". 9/16 is the track that comes closest to what we could call an epic, as it falls apart in different pieces, each with their own characteristics (rocking guitar at the start, keyboard driven melancholic middle...) and tempos. Not to mention a slow, melodic guitar solo.

Also there are small surprises here and there - like the Styx-like keyboard leads in Place to Be and Something, and the keyboard melody that reminds so much of a certain Vangelis track in Always There.

A final word on the production of this album, because after the mix was done by Oliver Rüsing and the mastering by Eroc (former drummer and producer of Grobschnitt). Because the mix is very dense on this album, Eroc tried to find a good balance between dynamics and loudness, and found it by applying mastering settings he had used in the past for mastering Maria Callas albums. That adds a nice anekdote to a fine album, that is certainly worth listening to for AOR fans, and for any rock fan who is in need of good melodies, nice vocals and balanced mix of more and less complex tracks. This one will spin more often in my house for sure.

Published also on my blog: www.angelosrockorphanage.com

Thanks to Roland113 for the artist addition.

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