Sometimes I’m a little late to the game. I received the third solo album from RPWL guitarist Kalle Wallner under the name Blind Ego a while back. I’ve been so swamped lately with albums from so many bands, that I only recently got the chance to hear. I’m glad I did. This new Blind Ego album is called “Liquid”, and it is full of musical palette-cleansing goodness.
Kalle’s main band RPWL is something of a tribute to Pink Floyd. His Blind Ego project abandons this for the most part with catchy, shorter songs featuring headbobbing grooves and amazing vocal lines. This being a solo effort, Kalle has recruited some fellow Gentle Art of Music (one of my favorite labels) label mates. The line-up this time includes Kalle on guitars, keyboards, bass, backing-vocals; Arno Menses (of Subsignal), Erik EZ Blomkvist (of Dreamscape), and Aaron Brooks on vocals; Sebastian Harnack, Ralf Schwager, and Heiko Jung on bass; and Michael Schwager on drums. This is a group of guys that don’t normally get the recognition or acclaim they really deserve.
I’ll be honest: I was mainly interested to hear this because of Arno Menses. He is one of the best singers around, and his voice is completely unique. No one else sounds like him. So, I came to hear Arno, and I left with an instant love for the slick, modern sound of the music. It does lean more towards alternative rock rather than prog rock, but you’ll hear plenty of the latter throughout the album. The modern alternative sound, though, feels much more honest to me; very sincere and emotional. The band is not try to play games with you or wow you with their technical splendor. They have just made a simple, clean album of great music.
The music is rock through and through, featuring some incredibly sweet high-tuned guitar licks and solos from Kalle. His style always rivets me, but that’s probably because I love Gilmour so much. Apart from that, the music has some truly inventive rhythms that are not nearly as straightforward as you might expect. The bass players are heard in a rich, organic fashion, lead by Michael’s full style of drumming. Electronic accents can be found throughout to complete the high level of polish on the music here, but you will find that the vocals are not overly polished. The vocals are some of the best this year.
Let’s talk about that for a moment. The three singers are mastered in a rather raw, convincing fashion. The three singers also have very different sounds. Arno is Arno, and he is always perfect. His emotional, pleading style instantly rivets me. His vocals on “Blackened”, “Not Going Away”, and “Tears and Laughter” are what make those three tracks my favorites on the album. Erik’s vocals are obviously more along the lines of the melodic metal genre, which I love. His voice is rougher, but goes very well in a rock format. His voice almost makes his songs, like “A Place in the Sun” and “Never Escape the Storm”, feel more classic rock in style. Aaron is not as present on the album, and that’s a bit of a shame. He has a very smooth, medium voice that sounds great whenever he is heard.
Like I said, my favorites are the smoothness of “Blackened”, the heavier “Tears and Laughter”, and the riveting “Never Escape the Storm”. My absolute favorite is “Not Going Away”, however. It has a super sharp, rollin’ groove that gives way into a jammin’ instrumental near the end. The album does get heavier for “Tears and Laughter”, but also for the completely instrumental track “Quiet Anger”, which sizzles with energy.
“Liquid” is one of those shorter, satisfying albums that I have been craving lately. It is a palette cleanser from the never ending wall of technical music that prog has to offer, and it just feels simple, clean, and good. Blind Ego is definitely a project you need to hear if that sort of thing sounds enticing to you. We all need an album like this once in a while.