Ura Kaipa was the name of a Swedish chieftain, and also the original name of the Swedish prog rock band, Kaipa. Less original was the title of their first album, Kaipa, which was released in 1975.
The band was unknown to Crotchety Man until it was brought to my attention by the latest issue of the Burning Shed newsletter, which announced the upcoming release of their 14th album, Urskog, on 29th April. The blurb described the band as ‘legendary’ and their style as ‘progressive folk-fusion’. Clearly, I was missing something significant, and we can’t have that on this blog.
Starting a listening session with the oldest of the Kaipa albums in the Spotify list seemed appropriate. Händer did not particularly impress, but it did give me time to read a bit about the band’s history. I soon discovered that I had come in at album number 4, made five years after the band had formed. Perhaps this was not their most creative phase.
Going back to the eponymous debut album through a 2015 re-release turned out to be far more satisfying. Kaipa, the album, is classic prog rock and that’s never out of place in this house.
The opening track is Musiken Är Ljuset, a seven-minute overture in the style of Yes – big chords, gritty bass and melodic vocals. A promising start.
Moving on through the tracks, a variety of influences peek through the foreground prog: there’s an echo of Genesis, snippets of Yes and a sniff of 10cc, but the strongest thread is Focus. Classical piano motifs cavort with tongue-in-cheek vocals. Simple folk tunes are abruptly eclipsed by jaunty riffs. The spirit of Thijs van Leer haunts this Swedish outfit.
Sometimes the light-hearted moments on the Kaipa album feel insubstantial or the sudden changes of style jar but, mostly, the parts fit together to form a firm foundation for our listening pleasure. Here’s my favourite track, Se var morgon gry, which I think might mean “see what tomorrow’s dawn brings” (Google Translate recognises the individual words, but not the full phrase).
Having heard only the debut album and the comparatively disappointing fourth, it would be unfair to offer an opinion on Kaipa‘s full catalogue. There’s enough there, though, to suggest that the forthcoming album will be worth at least a dip in the streaming services when it comes out. And the preview video provides ample evidence to back up that impression.
The Swedish chieftain is coming your way again. Will you put out the welcome mat or turn him away, I wonder?