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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Karnataka

Delicate Flame of Desire

Review by Steve Alspach

In a very short time Karnataka have carved an interesting niche for themselves in progressive rock music. This sextet mix Enya-esque breadth, Yes-like vocal harmonies, Renaissance-type romanticism, and still give the right amount of punch to keep the music from going over the edge into new age blandness. Most of the songs are in the 6-to-7 minute range, allowing them to stretch and develop slowly. For fans of Celtic-flavored music and progressive rock, "Delicate Flame of Desire" makes for a most enjoyable album and shows the band making big strides.

The personnel for this album is: Karnataka (Rachel Jones, lead vocals and percussion; Ian Jones, bass, acoustic guitar, vocals, and percussion; Jonathan Edwards, keyboards and vocals; Paul Davies, electric guitars; Anne-Marie Helder, vocals, flutes, and percussion, and Gavin John Griffiths, drums and percussion); Heather Findley, vocals.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Karnataka
This instrumental is heavily Celtic and reminiscent of Bill Whelan's music and arrangements.
Time Stand Still
The opening vocals sound very much like Yes' Anderson-Squire harmonies. The piece is a bit heavier in synthesizer than in most other cuts and has a nice melodic guitar solo. The song is a blueprint of the rest of the tracks on the album.
Delicate Flame of Desire
The band combine nice harmonies with emphatic chords during the chorus. The verse structure is used as a very effective device in the coda.
After The Rain
One of the hardest rockers on the CD (though the beat is still relaxed), "After the Rain" throws in an occasional bluesy riff as well as Rachel Jones' vocal ad-libs at the end.
Strange Behavior
The verses are a bit subdued in contrast to the chorus. There is a good synth effects-laden ending to finish this one off.
The Right Time
This song starts off simply enough with a slow dance beat, but hits the right level of drama towards the end as guitar and synthesizer trade solos. Between that, the harmonies and the slight dynamic changes, this song pulls all the right strings at the right time.
One Breath Away
This number has a bit more bounce to it than the other compositions on the CD - a bit like Capercaillie's self-described "hip-agus-hop."
Out of Reach
The first part of the tune is a bit more folk-oriented with the use of acoustic guitar. The second part still relaxed with a vocalese chant over a two-chord pattern.
Heart of Stone
The band pulls out all the stops on this 10:31 extravaganza. The song is very much like latter-day Yes in the three movements that make up the piece. There is an ethereal section after the second movement that allows for the third movement to be that much more emphatic.
 
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