Kansas – The Absence of Presence

Kansas - The Absence of Presence



4.4/5 Pros

  • Fantastic combination of sounds
  • Feels like symphonies
  • Superb songwriting and technical skills

Whenever big names of the music business release new music, there are two scenarios: they either still do great music – or they are just trailing behind and live from people still celebrating their old ones. I haven’t heard anything from the 1970’s rock / progressive rock legends Kansas for ages – the more I was looking forward to see how they would perform in their 2020 album The Absence of Presence, which they released on 17th July.

Kansas – About The Artists

The roots of the band Kansas are going back to the late 1960’s. There was even already an early band called Kansas in Wichita, Kansas, in 1970, but the band as it is known now has been formed in 1973. Three original band members, Phil Ehart, Rich Williams and Steve Walsh, are still part of the band today (the first two ones even never quit, apart from a one year period around 1985 when the band broke. The initial formation stayed from 1973 to 1981 – and after three albums with average success, the 1976 Leftoverture peaked fifth in the US and second in Canada, leading to a quadruple platinum record in the States. The key driver for that was the band’s first hit single, Carry On Wayward Son. Also the following album Point of Know Return was driven by a successful single, Dust in The Wind.

The band success faded thereafter, with reasonable chart placements in the early 1980’s and worse ones thereafter. Between 2000 and 2016, the band was active live, but did not release new albums. Their last album, The Prelude Implicit could be spotted in the charts, though. Including The Absence of Presence, Kansas released 17 studio albums.


Kansas – The Absence of Presence – Track by Track

The 2020 Kansas album just features nine tracks, but has a playing duration of 47 minutes. There are also enhanced editions of the album including a Blu-Ray and an artbook.

1. The Absence of Presence

Already the first track of the album (equivalent to the title track) takes all of you. The 8:22 minutes (!!) song feels like a classic symphony and also plays with classic and rock orchestration. It is a gem, a real masterpiece. Love it.

I can see reflections
Drifting into space
Always through a mirror
Never face to face
I ask another question
The words disintegrate
The absence of presence fills the air
I know you’re here but you’re not really there

2. Throwing Mountains

Throwing Mountains was one of the tracks Kansas released before the album – and again, the band shows all the elements they can combine to a great rock tracks. Their technical skills lead to a great sound – the instrumental parts are powerful, the vocal parts touch you directly, great one!

3. Jets Overhead

Lead me to shelter
Tell me about their plan
I’ll be waiting right here when you land

This track feels softer and thus also a bit more melodic than the two openers.. The fiddle plays a stronger role as well and has a great solo. Lovely sound!

4. Propulsion 1

After these three bombastic compositions, it is time for a relax – Propulsion 1 is a purely instrumental track. Nice recording.

5. Memories Down the Line

Apart from the instrumental episode Propulsion 1, this is the shortest track on the album – which still means that you have a 4:38 minute listen. A very melodic, ballad-alike song. It starts as a piano ballad track, but then more and more instruments are joining. Lovely composition.

6. Circus of Illusion

Circus of Illusion is more rhythmic and also a bit of quicker than the previous song. The string sounds are very active in this song. It is not my favorite track of the album, definitely. But it is a good one, definitely.

7. Animals on the Roof

This song has a stronger touch of Progressive Rock. It feels very harmonic and compact – thus, I really enjoy to listen to it.

8. Never

Never took the time to find
The things inside that I need
Something else always in the way
Never said the things I should have said
So you could know me
And what makes me breathe

Never has rock elements, but feels to be very sedated as well. This is another great track on the album, absolutely love this composition – even though there are other songs in The Absence of Presence, which touch my rock heart more.

9. The Song the River Sang

This track is quicker, more rhythmic than Never, but I am just still flashed by song #8. Still, The Song The River Sang is a great one – and the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it.


Kansas – The Absence of Presence – Spotify

Here is the Spotify widget to The Absence of Presence:


Kansas – The Absence of Presence – My View

Well done, Kansas! This 2020 album just shows that we all should pray that you stay safe and can rock on for some more years. These songs are definitely in the very, very upper ranks of rock of music, especially of Symphonic Rock. Technical skills, different atmospheres, rock and quiet moments, Kansas just mixes perfect musical cocktails. Top Pick! – Cheers!


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