KARMAKANIC – DOT (Inside Out)
CD/special edition CD/DL/2LP vinyl
Released 22nd July
The fifth full length album from Jonas Reingold’s Karmakanic band might not be the first album inspired by thoughts about our place in the universe and our place in the greater scheme of things, yet it’s a perfect theme for progressive rock exploration.
So fourteen years, four studio albums and two live albums down the line, Karmakanic get to mull over how small and insignificant we are. It’s in stark contrast to the music which is big and bold and encompassing the traditional values of progressive rock. American author and astronomer Carl Sagan’s notion of Earth and all it contains as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam” provides the spark for the major work on the album, the sweeply Eastern motif ing statement – “God – The Universe And Everything No One Else Really Cares About.” A sprawling thirty minute epic, it’s split into two parts, the first of which covers a mere twenty four minutes, veering through a real mix of styles. A snatch of easy lounge jazz, acoustic moments, angular combos of rhythms a la King Crimson, choral vocal moments, and the usual soaring guitar/keyboard passages. There may be a kitchen sink in there too yet it flows well enough for the piece to justify its duration and for the joins to be barely noticeable. “We’re all yet nothing” fades out before the second part, which closes the album in a particularly poignant manner. Some restful piano and a chance for some fretless Reingold bass develops into a typical progressive passage.
In between, there’s a co-write with The Tangent’s Andy Tillison, ‘Steer By The Stars’ – positively commercial by comparison and an example of where Karmakanic have the potential to head in the shorter format. The end of the track even heralds some lovely Gentle Giant / Spock’s Beard style multi part harmonies. The similarly brief ‘Traveling Minds’ is a more atmospheric interlude with a resplendently grandiose mid section but ‘Higher Ground’ at ten minutes is perhaps the pick of the album. More grounded in both musical terms and lyrical content – Reingold reflecting on the good and bad of growing up in a small Swedish town, its first half is as close as you’ll get to his Flower Kings day job, before a second half which presents a swirling instrumental passage. Weaving from a vaguely Eastern vibe packed with bubbling keyboards and soaring lead lines until the vocal kicks back in, it provides the perfectly balanced type of composition in light of the shorter and the more expansive work on ‘DOT’.
Although the Reingold background as bass player in The Flower Kings inevitably creeps under the door into the studio, there’s not quite a cast of thousands, but an impressive list of members who’ve contributed to Karmakanic 2016. Notably, Goran Edman’s lead vocals and the vital guitar and keyboard presence of Krister Jonsson and Lalle Larsen. There’s also a Hugh Syme sleeve design as part of the package. The legendary designer of so many iconic Rush sleeves adds his expertise to come up with, well, a large dot. Tongue pressed firmly in cheek, the phrases ‘does what it says on the tin’ and ‘money for old rope’ might spring to some people’s minds.
Anyone opting for the special edition also gets a classy package in terms of the standard ‘making of’ documentary and live footage amounting to well over a couple of hours of extras. It seals off an splendid addition to the growing Karmakanic catalogue.
Watch the lyric video edit of ‘God – the universe and everything else no one really cares about Part 1’ here: