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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Karmakanik

Entering the Spectra

Review by Josh Turner

This is supposed to be a solo project by Jonas Reingold, but it really stands alone as a complete band. If it were good it would defy expectations. Karmakanic does not merely meet expectations; it blows them to absolute smithereens.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Little Man
The first track isn't a song at all, but a story about a person plugging in and spending his life in cyberspace. It sets up an interesting premise for the concepts to follow. The piece is quite eloquent, read with precise pitch at a sensible pace, and backed by some appropriately placed atmospheric sounds.
Entering the Spectra
The title track is one of the best epics ever. The listener is an unexpected rider who is strapped into a chair inside a shuttle. As the story finishes at the end the first track, organs knock the listener to the back of their seats without even a moment's pause. This is quite startling. The stimulus is overwhelming and unforeseen. The thrust of the engines forces its passenger to a point of almost blacking out upon lift off. The song has many layers of complexity. The words are poetic. The dichotomy of styles in the singing between Goran Edman and Roine Stolt is superb. The keys are dazzling. The bass is brilliant. The use of soundtracks is very clever. Jonas is a modern day Mozart. He can compose with the best of them.
The Spirit Remains the Same
A change of pace, this is a straightforward rocker that isn't so simple. More good singing and bass playing is encountered. Already one must wonder how Jonas has so many diverse ideas and we are not even twenty minutes into the album.
Cyberdust From Mars
A short psychedelic piece, this is sung by Roine Stolt in a manner that is even mellow by his standards.
Space Race No. 3
A qualifier for space metal before Arjen Lucassen invented the classification, the lyrics are even cheesy to boot. It is progressive metal in nature. The keys sound like themes from a sci-fi serial. The choir is masterfully directed. The lead vocals by Goran and the harmony on the chorus parts are both done extremely well.
The Man in the Moon Cries
This is a ballad with progressive metal tendencies. Goran's voice sails through the horizon. Feel free to sing along, as the melody is both catchy and memorable.
One Whole Half
The listener is whipped back into a whirlwind of sound after coasting on autopilot. The whole is instrumental. While the halves are repeated, these are luscious licks worthy of a few rounds.
Is This The End?
A multi-part piece done in three stages. Each phase is different, but works well as one unit. There is static in the middle. While a slight distraction, it is short-lived. The song has some great melodies reminiscent of Queen.
Cello Suite No: 1 in G Major
A complex piece for a bass instrument, Jonas wonderfully translates this classic.
Welcome To Paradise
This cut is fit for closing the album. It is another highlight and is different from the rest. It almost sounds like the theme music for the campy Batman parody in the seventies. You can picture a superhero charging to the scene of a crime in his or her gaudy tights. Just as the title track knocks the breath out of us to begin the flight, this song glides in for a smooth landing. The final note is acute and poignant. We are relieved as the wheels touch the ground. The motion of flight is still in us long after we have stopped flying.
Loser's Game (Bonus America)
This is a great song much too worthy of bonus track status. However, this may be better left absent as the previous song gracefully ends the album. Secondly, the album scores well in its use of variation. This may be a little derivative of some of the other ideas on the album. It has a similar texture to "The Spirit Remains the Same". It is still a terrific song on its own. For the fan that refuses to go home when a concert has already provided the ideal ending, it provides one last encore before packing up for the night.
 
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