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Karnataka: The Gathering Light

Karnataka is a Welsh band that was formed in 1997 by Ian and Rachel Jones. Rachel has since left the band, while Ian steers the helm of the band forward. The band has recently undergone some major changes, including the addition of Haley Griffiths, replacing Lisa Flury on lead vocals, Louie Palmer, replacing Ian Harris on drums, and multi – instrumentalist, Colin Mold replacing Enrico Pinna and Gonzalo Carrera on guitar and keyboards. How this new band will respond to one of Karnataka's best received albums yet, from a diverse catalog of four albums including the The Gathering Light, will be interesting to watch during 2011.

The Gathering Light recently won the "Best Foreign Album of 2010" award from the Italian Prog Awards website, as well as many rave reviews throughout the music news media.

I felt it was a great time to revise my original review and get it reposted on Sea of Tranquility.

I wish more bands were performing at this level. Every note is a masterful stroke. Such great planning and brilliance from every player on every minute of this disc. So glad I found this band last year, butI only wish I had found them earlier. I have already purchased The Storm and plan to work my way back through the catalog, once it becomes available again.

This is one of my favorite albums of 2010.

The Players:
Ian Jones - Bass guitar, keyboards, piano, bass pedals, bodhran, percussion, and programming
Lisa Fury – Vocals and percussion
Gonzalo Carrera – Keyboards and piano
Enrico Pinna – Lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Ian Harris – Drums

Special Guests:
Troy Donockley – Uillean pipes and whistles
Hugh McDowell – Cellos/Cello
String Quartet – arrangements – Ian Jones
Phillippe Honore – Violin
Bridget Davey – Violin
Jane Fenton – Cello
Clive Howard - Viola

"The Calling" – What a perfect way to open an album, Troy Donockley's Uillean pipes and whistles. Beautiful opening that I wish could last forever. Like the dawning of light in the morning. The thunder effects and synths add to the epic feel of this one right from the opening.

"State of Grace" – The distant thunder sounds heard in the distance warn of the coming launch of guitars and synths at rapid speed. This second cool, slow, opening, provides two alternative openings for the album. This is one of the best epics on an album, filled with dramatic power and emotion. As it 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 gonna speed up dramatically into a crescendo of exciting light enthused glittering guitar and synth music. Although it's all instrumental, no words need to be said here. It's all power, delivered like few have this year. Amazing and easily one of my favorites off this album. Then that Yes gather – up of roaring and soaring electric guitars signals the finale and climax to this early masterpiece. Just knocks you back until you know you made the right choice taking a chance on this CD. The keys and synths are also amazing, but this is Enrico Pinna's guitar showcase.

"Your World" – If State was Enrico Pinna's song, this is Lisa Fury's showcase. Her vocals are mature and powerful in their softness. Her voice dances through these wonderful lyrics as the keys, synths, lead electric 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 that constant rhythm and helps develop the envelope of sound that you feel throughout this album. But the key notes are so distinct and perfectly placed so they highlight each moment.

Lisa, 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. "It's your world the way you see it." "It's your world why don't you feel it?" 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.

Enrico Pinna's piercing lead solos just soar into the air. Not a moment is wasted. Utter brilliance and masterful control over the audience. Would like to hear this and the whole album for that matter, played live. The drum power, keys and Enrico Pinna's lead and bass just surrounding the soundscape so perfectly. Lisa's cries driving through with presence and with mystery. Lisa 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 to love this song. But the synths and all other keyboards are just as good.

Lisa's voice is as powerful as Ann Wilson on this song. She brings all of 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 that really warm the heart. Then Enrico Pinna's guitar solo rises high and soars loud. Just as it ends Troy's pipes pick up where Enrico 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 truly a keyboard and synth showpiece of the album. It starts off brooding and moody with dark keys and echo effects. You feel like you're '20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' at the beginning of this one. But the joyful keys float out and the drums pound home before a mid – 70s Genesis keyboard sound takes over. Lisa is magnificent here providing the emotion throughout the piece. Ian Harris' drums are much more pronounced and formidable. But this is all Lisa. Her voice rises to a level yet unmatched on the album. The lyrics throughout this album 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. Enrico Pinna's charging guitar solo fills the air and takes us through to another bridge where the keys just simply amaze. It is the best instrumental section since "State of Grace". Enrico Pinna's guitar is just riveting.

"Forsaken" – Cellos, violins, piano, keys and peaceful quietness opens this one. Lisa's vocals open, "With loving kisses of farewell, feel my heart leave me. Through the rain a teardrop falls. Mirrors my heart breaking." Lisa's calming "oh,oh,ohs." Then that soaring guitar and those majestic keys catch you off guard. So dramatic and pitched high to raise the emotional level perfectly. 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. Lisa 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 that 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." A sad lament, but the music is awesome. While all of these beautiful lyrics are unfolding, Gonzalo and Ian Jones are weaving their magic with keys, while Harris it punctuating well with his drums. The strings really make this majestic and another 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." Enrico Pinna's guitar solos and soaring riffs throughout this piece are amazing. When Lisa sings, "In the storm it waits, patiently, for the tide to fall. And it falls." It is so majestic, along with Enrico Pinna's 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" – The closer, and to say its epic would be an understatement. This is the embodiment of epic. Troy's Uillean pipes get it started along with fantastic keys and synths. 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. 14:12 minutes of power prog. Lisa'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 one 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. Lisa's voice is incredible on these lines, "Facing all of our fears. Let go all the tears. Let them go. Don't waste away the years. The time is drawing near. Step into the heart of the fire. Into the glittering light."

The cellos and strings mixed with piano and that Lost Horizon – like melody, at 7:50 minutes in, along with the echo of Lisa's vocals as the drums roar, is epic. Acoustic guitars, drums, soft surrounding keys, pipes, whistles, strings, and of course Lisa's voice bring this song to a triumphant close.

Track Listing
1. The Calling (1:59)
2. State of Grace (8:53)
3. Your World (7:48)
4. Moment in Time (6:53)
5. Serpent and The Sea (10:21)
6. Forsaken (12:24)
7. Tide to Fall (5:36)
8. The Gathering Light (14:12)

Added: March 1st 2011
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3978
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Karnataka: The Gathering Light
Posted by Per Nilsson on 2011-08-23 05:05:30
My Score:

The best progrockalbum of 2010! What a fantastic review! And comparing Lisa΄s voice to Ann Wilson, that must be the best of approvals.

Karnataka: The Gathering Light
Posted by Lisa Fury on 2011-03-07 09:53:37
My Score:

Mark Johnson - Thank you so much for your wonderful comments regarding the album & my vocals. It's lovely to know that you have really 'heard' my lyrics & the emotion behind them. I know Haley will sing the back catalogue beautifully & is a wonderful replacement! Although I am no longer in Karnataka, I am still working hard writing & recording & will have a new website up soon -

Thank you again for the great review, Bright blessings, Lisa x

Karnataka: The Gathering Light
Posted by ENRICO PINNA on 2011-03-03 11:48:24
My Score:

Hello everybody and thanks for the amazing review. Just let everybody knows that Colin Mold didn't replace my role or Gonzalo's role but he is just another multi-intrumentalist who will play guitars, some keyboards, some backing vocals and the Violin. We needed to expand the band to be able to play those massive arrangements live so two guitarists was a "must" and with Colin we added a great musician to our experience!

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