Karmakanic: In a Perfect World
Karmakanic is the side project started by Flower King, Jonas Reingold back in 2002, in Malmo, Sweden. It has turned into its own powerhouse musical expression over time. The latest album In a Perfect World features: Jonas Reingold, fretted and fretless bass, backing vocals; Marcus Liliequist, drums; Göran Edman, vocals; Lalle Larsson, keyboards, backing vocals; Nils Erikson, vocals, keyboards; and Krister Jonsson, guitars.
Their last album, Who's the Boss in the Factory was one of my favorite albums of 2008, so I was happy when I received the promo for this latest release. That last album was full of unforgettable epics.
With this new album Reingold says, "Karmakanic is always a result of everything that I enjoy in music. I enjoy a bit of pop music, some fusion, I enjoy a bit of classic progressive rock like Genesis and those guys. I don't think much in terms of style; I just try to have fun while I compose the music. It's fun to actually do something on your own sometimes. I love being a part of The Flower Kings or any other projects I get involved with, but to actually be responsible for the whole thing - write the songs, record the album, produce and mix it - is a kick for me to do it once in a while. But, you can also get fed up with yourself if you work too much like that. Having this mix between everything is great."
This time Reingold wrote more about "things that concern me. We had a suicide bomber here in Sweden last Christmas, and that hit me hard because you see it on television in other parts of the world, and suddenly it was in my backyard. That kind of scared me, so I wrote a song about that. I try to find a subject that is meaningful and write about it. As long as you write something that is meaningful for you, other people will respond to it."
I actually like this album but it doesn't rise to the epic proportions of the last album. It is still one of the better albums of the year so far, and if you're a fan of the band, you will enjoy this album like the rest of their catalog. It's also a great introduction if you're new to the band's sound. The track, 'Can't Take it with You', is a standout and definitely rises to the level of a 'Two Blocks from the Edge', from the last album.
'1969', one of the most pivotal years in rock music and world history. Karmakanic opens the track with stylish guitar chords, big bass sounds and sentimental keys. Göran Edman's vocals begin, "Half a million strong, headed for love. They danced in the pasture of lightning, thunder and mud. Primitive chanting, sounds from a wooden drum. Songs about love and how we shall overcome. Our world was changing right before our eyes". Then this epic 14:14 minute opener gets off to an instrumental start with flying keys, heavy bass, lightning guitar chords and drums. The lyrics engage all of the feelings going on during that time of change. It truly was an epic year and they have done a great job trying to capture it here. The space program, social change, and the wonderful music we are all still enjoying today. Then they take off on a very cool instrumental section full of everyone's talents. A desire to capture and somehow return to that power and magic that "we have lost. The warmth in the winter and the morning frost". An excellent way to open an album celebrating the past before diving into the present and future.
'Turn it Up' opens with a cavalcade of drums roaring at you slowly before the keys enter. This album is full of rhythm and this is only the beginning. A song about the economic crisis and its origins. Then the refrain captures the anger and frustration people are feeling, "Turn it up, turn it down. Call it a crisis. Make it look random. I should have told you more, how we done it before". "The greater need, the greater greed. They're giving me the right to pull the strings and make you think its fine". The music is bright even if this situation they are singing about is gloomy. Great keys, guitar chords, bass, and those rumbling drums. One of the best tracks on the album.
Edman's vocals "All we got in life is time. Too many people spending mine", opens 'The World is Caving In', as the waves roll to the shore. More on the global chaos we all face. "Will I ever reach the river to wash away my sin? Will I ever see a new beginning when my little world is caving in"? Deep, passionate lyrics to open this masterpiece of power. The organ and bass do a great job of building momentum, as the drums and lead guitar push through. The synth and piano keys which are added later take the song even higher. The band is at its best when they are jamming and this song is no exception.
The best and most inspired track on the album for me is 'Can't Take it with You'. Who said a bunch of guys from Scandinavia have no rhythm? This song will prove that statement wrong. I said there would be rhythm and this salsa inspired song will definitely have you dancing or at least moving. It's always fun when a band stretches its boundaries and goes beyond expectations. One of the most innovative songs of the year. You know you've heard similar things in the past, but not coming from these Northern shores. The power of the song takes me back to 'Kiko and the Lavender Moon', from Los Lobos, in that it helped break that band big. You can tell they're having allot of fun on this one. It's gonna be a showstopper live I'm sure. The vocal fun they have, including harmonies and growling loud vocals only add to the dynamics making it more impressive. The keyboard work is tops and the best on an album full of great keys. The heavy guitar and bass are also solid, along with the drums. Well it is a rhythm song after all.
'There's Nothing Wrong with the World' slows things down after all the fun and makes us think about where we are today, after reminiscing about the past at the beginning of the album. The track opens with the sounds of the news and those powerfully gripping piano keys. Then Edman's vocals discussing some of the events heralding what many worry may be the end of the world. But then the band blasts through with power drums, keys, bass, and lead guitar. The piano work is some of the best on the album. This band loves piano, as witnessed from the epic track, 'Eternally', off the last album. Later though, the piano is replaced with keyboard as the jam rolls on. Power chords and even more powerful drums are added as the rhythm of the bass joins in with those funky keys. An excellent jazzy jam session.
'Bite the Grit' is another response to the bad economic times. The lyrics unfold, "No matter what you say, no matter what you do, it's gonna hurt but you can't give in. You gotta bite the grit". Yeah, then a driving electric guitar lead onslaught, ensues, complete with keys, bass, and power drums, followed up with what sounds like violin added for dynamics. Another excellent song preparing you well for the closer. That keyboard, bass, lead electric and drums jam will take you back in time to a place when bands used to rock well and loud.
Soft acoustic guitar and quiet vocals slowly opens 'When Fear Came to Town'. "Gotta get ourselves back to higher ground because fear has come to town". The way many of the best tracks in history open with quiet vocals and acoustic. After 5 minutes of soft vocal delivery with acoustic guitar, the bass and keys signal things are will be changing. But not before some cool soft ethereal moments. Then that wonderful piano is back with the bass and slow grinding organ in the background, bringing back memories of some of Procol Harum's classics. The lead electric slides through to create a weaving melody of sound, set to choir – like vocals in the background, as the piano takes us out.
1. 1969 - 14:40
2. Turn it up - 06:53
3. The world is caving in - 08:58
4. Can't take it with you - 05:42
5. There's nothing wrong with the world - 07:22
6. Bite the grit - 04:57
7. When fear came to town - 09:54
Added: July 27th 2011
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Band Website
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|Karmakanic: In a Perfect World
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-07-26 14:47:47
Previously seen as a side project of The Flower Kings' Jonas Reingold, it could be argued that the stunning mixture of prog, pop and goodness knows what else that was captured on 2008's Who's The Boss In The Factory, has made Karmakanik's In A Perfect World every bit as anticipated as any release from those kings of flowers themselves. In truth In A Perfect World may not be quite as confidently bristling and glistening as Who's The Boss..., however it is still an album that easily illustrates what a sparkling outfit Reingold has put together here. Handling vocals is Goran Edman who undoubtedly shines in this setting, while Krister Jonsson on guitar and Nils Erikson and Lalle Larsson both on keyboards, combine quite marvellously with drummer Marcus Liliequist and Reingold himself on bass to form a mammothly effective unit capable of seducing with melody, confusing and then beguiling through intricacy and steamrolling with immense power.
Opener "1969" sets the Karmakanic stall out right from the off, with little splashes of Yes and mid-era Genesis to make a symphonic progressive statement that aptly fits the box marked epic, while refusing to compromise on melody and even some catchy vocal lines. As mentioned Edman adds his gold throated magic to this album, however the likes of this song and "Turn It Up", which quickly follows, illustrate that he is truly a master of this genre. That second song brings a more pop-prog vibe to proceedings, before "The World Is Caving In" breaks out the big riffs and intricate time changes, while still having the audacity to add some little breakdowns that could easily feature in a chart hit, before allowing a keyboard/piano solo to smack you off on another tangent.
Personally I can easily live without the throwaway quirk of "Can't Take It With You", where the Cuban dance rhythms are punctuated by some needlessly growled and gurgled "la-la-la's" and overly earnest layered voices, making an otherwise sharp punchy track into something that feels like it was added purely and simply to change the mood of the album. The point being emphasised all the more when "There's Nothing Wrong With The World" and "Bite The Grit" bring the vibe right back to where it was previously. "When Fear Came To Town" draws the album to a close in a more downbeat, but no less memorable manner, with the jazzy swing being played at a gentle walking pace, allowing the wonderful keyboard and guitar work room to roam and meander.
In A Perfect World is one of those albums that makes an hour just whizz by at an amazing speed and unlike many releases of that length the urge to immediately press play again is almost irresistible. Maybe it is not quite as stunning as its predecessor, but this is still an album of undoubted quality and class.
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