About two months ago I submitted my application for a writer position here at It Djents. I was asked to write a short, positive song review on anything I wanted. The song I chose was “Ultraviolet” by Kepler Ten. Ever since I heard the UK band’s debut record Delta-v earlier this year, “Ultraviolet” has been an unshakable earworm. To this day, it’s probably the best track I’ve heard all year. The same could be said of the whole album – it being one of my favorites of 2017 so far. They merge finely aged progressive rock values with contemporary attitude and quality musicianship to form a power trio you can’t afford to miss. Before I go any further with my praise, let me introduce you to Kepler Ten, and tell you why they are important to progressive music, especially at this point in time.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Kepler Ten‘s line up for Delta-v consisted of James Durand on bass and vocals, Richie Cahill on guitar, synths, and bass pedals, and Steve Hales who plays drums and writes the lyrics. Durand and Hales also share the responsibility of keyboards. Although they’ve worked in other bands together and separately before, the three gents originally became a trio to form R2, a Rush cover band. They saw success with R2, providing a near one-to-one energetic imitation of the legendary Canadian prog rock band and decided to pursue original material with each other.
The band wrote and produced demos for Delta-v‘s songs that eventually caught the ear of John Mitchell (Frost*, solo project of Lonely Robot) who co-owns White Star Records. He was blown away by the quality of the demos, which wes really just the album itself already professionally recorded, and all it needed according to Mitchell was some “Mitchell Magic” (read: final mixing touches). The rest, as they say, is history. Kepler Ten released Delta-v on February 10, 2017 to critical acclaim from deep within the progressive music community.
You’re probably thinking ‘wow David, thanks for writing the Wikipedia biography of the band, but how do they sound?’ They sound great! Kepler Ten brings the kitsch and nerdy melodrama of 70s and 80s prog rock and make it fully palatable by infusing it with newer ideas and ridiculously catchy writing. The overall sound is delightfully aged (not ‘old’, there’s a difference), prepared with the modern ear in mind. From the electrifying guitar solos on “Ultraviolet” to the karaoke ready chorus on “Time and Tide”, every element of the music shines like a freshly waxed DeLorean. It’s youthful energy mixed with the maturity and self-awareness that comes from years of experience. Perhaps most importantly: the music is fun. Remember fun? Kepler Ten do! This is the type of rock that will make you pull out the air guitar and drums, not giving a second thought to whether or not anyone is watching you. You’ll want to yell-sing the hooks in your car as you drive down the highway.
One thing I don’t want to do with this feature is insinuate that this band is a novelty. In the grand scheme of all things prog, Kepler Ten matter. We exist in an era when contemporary progressive musicians – especially of the metal persuasion – get lost in the competition to be the most technical, flashy, or sometimes simply the loudest. Amongst the noise, Durand and company breathe easily. This is a more classically infused and influenced prog rock affair. There’s feeling to the music, and true atmosphere. Perhaps most importantly, there’s good writing. As indebted to the past as Kepler Ten is, it’s also future-minded and forward-thinking… you know, progressive.
In an interview with Devils Gate Media, Hales used painting as a metaphor to explain what progressive music is to them and how the band approaches their own art:
‘…Prog gives you an almost unlimited palette to work with. It also sets the artist free, with no rules, no inhibitions. The beauty of that is you could end up with a wide variety of pictures, from a messy handprint that looks like it was done by a 3 year-old, to a Van Gogh masterpiece. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some bands inevitably turn out a Jackson Pollock… brilliant to some, but a total mess to others. I love it all, but we try not to let Kepler Ten get too messy.‘
Put simply, this band deserves more recognition, and I present this feature to you in hopes that you’ll check them out and perhaps feel the same way I do about them. They approach prog rock in a refreshing way, not often seen with today’s artists. Recently they were nominated for the Limelight award at the Progressive Music Awards, which is a good sign that people are indeed paying attention and not letting this talent slip by. Unfortunately, Richie Cahill has since departed from the band, but the two remaining members are searching for a capable guitarist to complement their sound and seem intent on moving forward to bring fans more great music. I, for one, wish them the best luck in that endeavor and look forward to their future output. Don’t miss out on these guys!