In view of his artistic spectrum and virtuosity it is no surprise that It Bites keyboardist John Beck is a musician much in demand. This led to the birth of an excellent band that makes sophisticated rock music combined with progressive rock elements. And not only this, but also the fact that a few well-known musicians had a detailed talk with their label boss, which is rarely the case, as mockers observe.

Apart from John Beck and guitar player and singer John Mitchell (Arena, The Urbane), Kino also features Pete Trewavas (Marillion, ex-Transatlantic) on bass and Porcupine Tree‘s former drummer Chris Maitland. “InsideOut boss Thomas Waber asked me if I would mind doing something similar like The Urbane, however, with a stronger prog attitude,“ says John Mitchell. “He showed an interest in the musicians I would like to play with. I instantly thought of John Beck whom I had met on a tour in Japan with John Wetton. So that set the ball rolling.“

“I talked with Thomas Waber about Neal Morse leaving Transatlantic and about possible future projects,“ adds Pete Trewavas. “I said to him I would like to do something with John Beck sometime. So when he told me about the potential new duo Beck/Mitchell I was immediately enthusiastic about this line-up.“ Trewavas eventually brought in Chris Maitland. Both knew each other from the time when Porcupine Tree were support act for Marillion. Now Kino was complete and the work on the debut album “Picture“ could begin. All members agreed that this band should be in no way a one hit wonder. “We all consider it to be a long-term band. For us it’s a very important thing and we want to make the best of it“, says Mitchell. And Trewavas adds: “Kino definitely is a band with a vision. We want to play the debut album live, and we already talked about recording new songs.“

Good news, because when you listen to “Picture” you will most likely listen to it once again and wish to hear more from those guys. Bands have rarely used so many harmony vocals. Melodies rarely sound so pleasing and fresh at the same time. Dissonant sounds rarely fit so perfectly into the entire structure of the music so that listening to it brings so much pure pleasure. All that and even more do these ten songs offer on “Picture”. There are touches of Asia and Queen. Flash lights are flickering which reminds one of Police (vibraphone in ”Telling You“), Genesis (driving basses and organs in ”People“) or Yes (second half of ”Holding On“). Solo and acoustic guitars often sound so soft and fabulous just like with the early Steve Hackett, but one can also rejoice in ecstasy when listening to ”All You See“. Beck’s wonderful piano playing puts Supertramp in the shade (“Swimming In Women“), and his excellent wind and string sections are dominating a lot of songs, yet without overloading them. And with Trewavas/Maitland, the right rhythm section is at the right place at the right time.

Lovely and harsh sounds are in balance with Kino, sometime it goes a little bit more in one direction, then in the other. And the title track is a true piano ballad, ”Perfect Tense“ almost something like a jazz-pop influenced hit, and the opener ”Losers Day Parade“ with its nine minutes of original ideas is a candidate for an art rock classic. Most of all, its middle part is a highlight: first it surprisingly brings in the Beatles, then Canterbury, and finally – after a short digression into heavy rock riffs – a lavish and conclusive motif with vocals and organ follows. Kino is, without a doubt, a true addition for the enigmatic landscape of elevated rock music where innovation and nostalgia are stimulating themselves mutually. And that the band can offer a lot on stage was proved before an impressed audience at their first official gig in Cologne in December which was filmed and broadcasted by the TV programme “WDR Rockpalast”. Those who have watched Beck, Mitchell, Maitland, and Trewavas know that the band’s name is programmatic, because this was big cinemascope for the ears.

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