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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Karnataka

The Gathering Light

Review by Mark Johnson

I wish more bands were performing at this level. Every note here is a masterful stroke. There is such great planning and brilliance from every player. I am so glad I found this band this year and only wish I had found them earlier. I have already begun to order some of their earlier material based on the My Space clips and the strength of this album. If they can put together this kind of quality I’m sure the rest is just as good.

This is one of the best albums of 2010. It will remain high on my list of favorites this year. I only wish they would find a way to stay together. This is incredible music that must survive. The band’s My Space page and website is already glowing about the possible new artists who will be joining the band, so the future looks bright.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Calling

This is a perfect way to open an album, Troy Donockley’s Uillean pipes and whistles. It is a beautiful start that you wish could last forever. It is like the dawning of light in the morning. The thunder effects and synths add to the epic feel of this one right from the start.

State of Grace

The distant thunder sounds are heard as this jet prepares for launch at rapid speed. But the slow lead guitar and synth intro is the calm before the storm. This is one of the best epics on an album filled with dramatic power and emotion. As this one builds you can tell you are in for something special. Once the drums kick in you need to hold on to something strong, because the synth programming, lead guitar, bass and drums are going to speed up dramatically into a crescendo of exciting light enthused glittering music. Although it’s all instrumental, no words need to be said here. It’s all power, delivered like few have this year. This is amazing and easily one of my favorites off this album. Then there is a Yes-like gathering of roaring and soaring electric sound that welcomes the finale and climax to this early masterpiece. It just knocks you back until you know you made the right choice taking a chance on this CD. Ian Jones’ lead guitar is stellar. Gonzalo Carrera’s keys are also amazing, but this is Jones’ showcase.

Your World

If “State…” was Jones’ song, this is Lisa Fury’s showcase. Her vocals are mature and powerful in their softness. Her voice dances through these wonderful lyrics as Carrera’s keys and Jones’ lead and bass help create a very cool soundscape. Ian Harris’ drums open with that “In the Air Tonight” fluidness that really sets the stage nicely. He provides the constant rhythm and helps develop the envelope of sound that you feel throughout this album. But Carrera’s keys are so distinct and perfectly placed to highlight each moment.  Fury, with her side project Fleetwood Bac, brings some of the feeling from “Rhiannon” and “Gypsy” to bear on this song. “She said take my hand child / Where am I? / Is this a dream?” This one fulfills every wish you might have as a dynamic and dramatic prog epic. Those keys remind me of some of the work on some of Peter Gabriel’s solo albums, and at the same time Genesis Calling All Stations.

Jones’ piercing lead solos just soar into the air. There is not a moment wasted. It displays utter brilliance and masterful control over the audience. I would like to hear this, and the whole album for that matter, played live. The drum power, keys and Jones’ lead and bass just surround the soundscape so perfectly. Fury’s cries drive through with presence and mystery. Fury also has an Ann Wilson quality to her vocals. This song and “Moment in Time” bring back memories of the power of the female vocals from the Bad Animals album.

Moment in Time

This, the title track and “Tide to Fall” are my favorite songs on this album. The beautiful piano at the beginning of this song is another reason Carrera is definitely on my keyboard watch list. But his synths and all other keyboards are just as good.  Fury’s voice is Ann Wilson-powerful on this song. She brings all the emotions. When she sings, “Touch of your hand on mine / set off kaleidoscope minds,” you remember that moment of first love. She captures the feelings and emotion so perfectly in word and song. “One moment in our time / Waiting for so long / You opened my eyes to something inside.” The string support is beautiful. Cellos and violins really warm the heart. Then Jones’ guitar solo rises high and soars loud. Just as it ends, Donockley’s pipes pick up where Jones left off without missing a beat. The timing is so well performed by everyone on this album. It is what makes this and every song so special. Every part flows so perfectly together. It is amazing to think that the members who put together this masterpiece are now disbanded. Not only is this one of my favorite songs on the album, its one of my favorites of the year, so far.

The Serpent and the Sea

This is one of Carrera’s showpieces on the album. It starts off brooding and moody with dark keys and echo effects. You feel “20 thousand leagues under the sea” at the beginning of this. But the joyful keys float out and the drums pound home before a mid – 70s Genesis keyboard sound takes over. Fury is magnificent here creating the vision and providing the emotions throughout the piece. Ian Harris’ drums are much more pronounced and formidable. But this is all Fury. Her voice rises to a level yet unmatched on the album. The lyrics throughout this disc are wonderful as they tell the intricate story. “I’m lost in a world that holds nothing for me / Where do I go and who holds the key?” These are powerful vocals that warm and are full of that English charm. Jones’ charging guitar solo fills the air and takes us through to another bridge where Carrera’s keys just simply amaze. This mid section is all Carrera, Jones and Harris. It is the best instrumental section since “State of Grace.” Jones’ guitar is just riveting.

Forsaken

Cellos, violins, piano, keys and peaceful quietness opens this one. Fury’s vocals open, “With loving kisses of farewell / Feel my heart leave me / Through the rain a teardrop falls / Mirrors my heart breaking.” Fury provides calming “oh,oh,ohs.” Then that soaring guitar and those majestic keys catch you off guard. It is so dramatic and pitched high to raise the emotional level perfectly. This has a solid synth, drum and keyboard assault with a melody that reminds me of the “smile” part of Jethro Tull’s “One Brown Mouse.” The drums here are also exceptional. Fury is back and her warmth fills the room with stillness. “Hear the echo of my call / Shattered heart forsaken now.” What a way to finish off this song!

Tide to Fall

That Gypsy/Middle - Eastern rhythm opens this one and brings more of the otherworld quality to this song and album. “Ancient road is covered by the sea / Tide is rising and it’s leaving me / No way back to the island that is you.” This is a sad lament, but the music is awesome. While all of these beautiful lyrics are unfolding, Carrera is weaving his magic with the keys, while Harris is punctuating well with his drums. The strings really make this majestic and a reason it is one of my favorites. The melody is one of the most original and best on the album. “Tide changes, the sea falls away /Revealing paths that shine within the light of day.”  Jones’ guitar solos and soaring riffs throughout this piece are amazing. When Fury sings, “In the storm it waits, patiently, for the tide to fall.” It is so majestic, along with Jones launching riff that hits perfectly like a wave. The ebb and flow of the sound fits perfectly with the storyline. Did I say incredible?

The Gathering Light

This is the closer and to say “it’s epic” would be an understatement. It is the embodiment of epic. Donockley’s Uillean pipes get it started along with Carrera’s keys. If you aren’t in the mood for an epic after this opening, then you never will be. Those blasting, almost Kitaro level Japanese drums, sound fantastic as they welcome the listener to a real powerhouse. This is fourteen minutes and twelve second of power prog. Fury’s wonderful voice, “From the sea we reach the shore.” “From the dark we reach the light.” “From the shadows we reach the sun.” “And step out of the night.”  I compare the feeling I have on this one to the one I had when I first heard Unitopia’s Garden epic song. This piece really moved me. “We try to find the words, to touch each other’s heart.” They did it with this album. “Into the gathering light.” The guitars are a constant thrilling reminder of the song’s power. Fury’s voice is incredible on these lines, “From the sea we reach the shore/ From the dark we reach the light /  From the shadows we reach the sun / And step out of the night.” The cellos and strings mixed with piano and that “Lost Horizon” – like melody, at 7:50, along with the echo of Fury’s vocals as the drums roar, is epic. Acoustic guitars, drums, soft surrounding keys, pipes, whistles, strings, and of course Fury’s voice bring this song to a triumphant close.

 
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