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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Karmakanik

In a Perfect World

Review by Gary Hill

Karmakanic’s latest release is a killer progressive rock album that combines a lot of sounds into something that’s quite unique. No matter what period of progressive rock appeals most to a given listener, something here will be sure to please. Of course, since this is essentially a Flower Kings spin-off, comparisons to that group are obvious – and appropriate, but this group stands on its own. There’s a bonus video here that will play on computers, but that’s just icing on the cake because this disc is very strong. If there’s an issue with it, it’s the inclusion of the bonus track. It’s not bad, just redundant.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
1969

Keyboard textures start this and the track grows upward from there, turning a bit Pink Floyd-like at times. It drops way down for a bass driven motif that’s keyboard dominated. The vocals come in across this, feeling at times like Fish era Marillion. This motif is built upon as more melodic prog is built. There are hints of a powered up motif that pop up as punctuation here and there and it feels at times like Yes. This becomes more and more the rule of the day before it explodes out into a fast paced jam that’s somewhere between Starcastle and Yes. Eventually it works out to a harder rocking modern prog jam, but then drops back down. Eventually we’re taken back to Yes-like territory as this continues. From there we’re taken to some more modern progressive rock that still leans upon that Yes-like sound. This is energized and just plain awesome. It works through change after change, but all are delivered organically. There’s a tasty organ solo followed by a screaming guitar solo. Then it shifts out to a new melodic (vintage sounding) progressive rock jam before dropping out to something akin to melodic fusion for the next vocal section. Eventually that resolves out to a piano and vocal balladic movement. It works out from there in a killer, melodic jam. This section feels like Yes, but only in a very general sense. The music itself is more like modern progressive rock, but there are Yesisms in terms of the vocal arrangement and the general structure. Still, further down the road Yes becomes more of an apparent reference and it calls to mind the Going for the One album quite a bit. There’s an extremely powerful resolution down the road that really feels like The Flower Kings. As it settles into a mellower segment, it seems quite similar to the sounds of Queen.

Turn It Up
We get more of a modern progressive rock sound as this opens. It works through a verse and powers out a lot for the arena rock styled chorus. This is a killer tune that’s infectious and potent. They alternate between the mellower movements and the harder rocking ones in a great modern prog arrangement. They take it through quite a few alterations and at times it feels like modern Yes. Then there’s a smoking, more straight ahead section that makes me think of Todd Rundgren a bit.
The World Is Caving In
The unaccompanied vocals that bring this in again call to mind Fish era Marillion. Even once the piano joins to accompany that reference is valid. It works out to harder rocking territory later and then we get a section that’s quite a bit like Kansas with a real groove onboard. Even when it resolves from there to melodic sounds, Kansas is certainly not far removed from the sound. Further down the road we’re treated to a killer keyboard solo. Then it shifts to a mean sounding metallic prog jam that works through a number of changes and alterations. More Kansas-inspired sounds take it, but it drops from there to a jazz like bass solo section before more hard rocking guitar emerges over the top. It works back through some familiar territory before closing out.
Can't Take It With You
A bouncy little keyboard section starts this. Then we get some funny Latin sounding music. After the first vocals in that motif a hard rocking movement that’s almost death metal emerges. The two music concepts are combined in the kind of “putting two unrelated elements together” arrangement that bands like Diablo Swing Orchestra love. There are more Kansas-like sounds here, but yet we get some Samba-like sounds. This thing is all over the place. It’s a weird, but extremely cool bit of craziness. It’s almost impossible to keep track of every individual change. It turns towards pure Latin music at times, then jazz is the order of the business before they fire out to more mainstream elements. This is crazy and incredibly tasty.
There's Nothing Wrong With The World
A ballad based keyboard and vocal movement starts this, bringing a real Fish era Marillion texture to the festivities. It rocks out from there into a killer progressive rock jam that’s quite classic prog based. It drops down later for a keyboard dominated section before firing back out towards a jam that’s closer to a harder edged Yes. Then the keyboards take over again and it’s one change after another as different progressive rock segments come and go. It’s another killer jam that showcases this group’s deft skills at handling multiple changes and combining modern and classic prog sounds.
Bite The Grit
This rocker has melodic prog, harder rocking sounds and even some hints of country music along with some symphonic elements in its mix. It’s another killer tune that works through a series of changes and alterations but never fails to entertain or amaze.
When Fear Came To Town
A real change of pace, the first several minutes of this tune are pretty much based on a bluesy, acoustic guitar dominated approach. It’s almost just nothing but acoustic guitar and vocals. Around the three minute mark there’s a bass solo. But it doesn’t really change the scope, but rather bring it more into a fusion sort of motif. Around the five and a half minute mark it moves to mellower keyboard dominated territory to continue. As that mode continues, piano rises up and then we’re moved into a slow moving, melodic jazz motif. Other elements are added to the mix taking it closer to something from Pink Floyd with some Beatles in the blend.
Turn It Up (Radio Edit)
Obviously this bonus track is a shortened version of the tune from the main part of the album. It’s good, but a bit redundant.
 
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