Karmakanic - 'Dot' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 12, 2017    
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With The Flower Kings on hiatus due to Roine Stolt's touring commitments with Steve Hackett, bassist Jonas Reingold reconvened his Karmakanic cohorts for their fifth studio album, and what a fabulous set of songs they've produced!

Whilst I value the preceding releases very highly, to me this is undoubtedly their most cohesive and consistently melodic set to date. The other albums have the odd challenging moments (weird and/or Jazzy) that don't resonate with me, but there's none of that superfluous frippery here.
Aside from Reingold, some of the musicians involved include Fireworks favourite Göran Edman (vocals), Lalle Larsson (keys), Morgan Ågren (drums) and Krister Jonsson (guitars), as well as Andy Tillison (The Tangent) adding some immense Hammond Organ chords to the first track.

Taking inspiration from the astronomer Carl Sagan, Reingold writes primarily about the Earth (the pale blue DOT of the title) and its place in the universe, our existence etc. – not least on the epic, two-part 'God The Universe And Everything Else No One Really Cares About'. Heavy? Certainly, but the subject matter never weighs down the beauty of the music on offer. I'd go as far as saying the songs Karmakanic have created are exquisite, the playing is absolutely superb and Edman's vocals are wonderful. If, like me, your Prog sensibilities include TFK (naturally), Transatlantic, Spock's Beard, Big Big Train and Moon Safari, I have no hesitation in claiming you will adore this album.

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The aforementioned epic covers all these bases and more, where many delightful melodies abound while calm and aggressive sections mix seamlessly. Epics can often be disjointed or seem forced but no such complaints here as it flows perfectly; it could warrant an entire review on its own.

Elsewhere, 'Higher Ground' is about Reingold's upbringing in a small Swedish town, again the melodies are terrific and the chorus infectious. 'Steer By The Stars' (co-written with Tillison) is a West Coast/AOR gem if ever there was one.
'Travelling Minds' features delicious piano and bass motifs with Jonsson delivering sumptuous guitar. The soloing across the album is precise, concise and completely relevant.

Part 2 of the epic rounds things out in initially reflective mood but concludes with a fittingly rousing instrumental section that stirs the blood.
Using Transatlantic as a yardstick, I would put 'DOT' right alongside any of their albums for quality and for touching the pleasure buttons in my brain. Awesome!

Gary Marshall

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