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Kansas: The Absence of Presence

by Richard Lynch

Never before in the band's five decades have Kansas released a record with a title as timely as The Absence of Presence. I mean, come on, how could they have known? The album coincides with a time in history when most of the world is mourning the absence of their loved ones, friends or more simply - the idea of familiarity. What is familiar here is the sound the heartland rockers present on nine substantial tracks wrapped up tightly in their patented prog rock stylings. Equally remarkable to the music is how this legendary outfit has carried on well past what many consider to be their point of no return. Not many groups have survived the departure of one front man. But, Kansas remains on a forward trajectory thanks to the acquisition of vocalist number three - Ronnie Platt. Now, on his second studio offering the singer provides a solid link to the past while stamping the current chapter as one truly worthy in their long and storied history.

On the follow-up to his 2016 debut The Prelude Implicit we see that Platt isn't making the magic all by himself as the Kansas tale continues to unfold. Fully present on The Absence of Presence are longtime members Richard Williams on guitar and David Ragsdale and his always searing violin. Newcomers Tom Brislin and Zak Rizvi provide dazzling keyboards and electrifying guitar riffs respectively while Phil Ehart and Billy Greer never disappoint where the rhythm section is concerned. Fans will find that all the elements that are unique to the group are present in abundance on the album's impressive collection of rockers, progressive epics and moving ballads. With each passing day in 2020 it's beginning to feel like we're not in America anymore. But, it's good to know Kansas is still with us and continuing boldly and bravely on their golden road of musical wizardry.


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