Karmakanic was founded in 2002 by Jonas Reingold, the genial and multi-talented Swedish musician/ composer/ producer, who is best known as the bass player for The Flower Kings as well as Kaipa, The Fringe, Barracuda Triangle, Agents Of Mercy and The Tangent.
Dot is the band's fifth studio album, the band's canon of work which also includes a live recording. However, this album could also be subtitled Reingold's Space Odyssey, as, like the film, it is an astonishing and, at times, breath-taking piece of work. The minimalist cover by Hugh Syme gives a clue as to what Dot refers, the original idea coming from a quote from the late scientist and visionary Carl Sagan, who defined so much of our current thinking about the cosmos. Jonas simply picks up the quote and takes us on a memorable 50 minute voyage around the Karmakanic universe, along with a star-studded supporting cast which includes his regular band mates Morgan Ågren on percussion, Lalle Larsson on keyboards, Krister Jonsson on guitar, Göran Edman on lead vocals. Supplementing the stellar cast is Nils Erikson, also on lead vocals, Austrian guitarist Andy Bartosh, Ray Achinger on saxophone and flute, The Tangent's mainman Andy Tillison on Hammond organ, plus Christine Lenk on vocals and the voices of Reingold's children, Alex and Norah.
Reingold's launch pad is Dot, a minute and a half long swirl of the sounds of space and distortion to set the scene for where we are headed. That destination is 23 minutes of total prog heaven through God The Universe And Everything Else No One Really Cares About - Part 1. This is the kind of track die-hards dream of. It is the shifting patterns of sound, the ebbing and flowing and seamless transitions from one passage to another which makes this such a potential modern classic. From the gentle piano and resonant bass which begin the journey, aural explosions and eruptions take the piece from rock frenzy to classical elegance to laid-back jazz, acoustic guitar and cosmic flute. Add to that the angelic voices of the Reingold clan and the whole effect is like a celestial procession that's majestic, uplifting and rousing.
For anyone buying the package with the bonus DVD, do watch Reingold's quite brilliant and very animate blow by blow account of how the composition was put together. How do you follow it? Well. Reingold literally takes to the Higher Ground, this being a lovely wistful, nostalgic song with a pumping rhythm than levitates through an airy acoustic section, plus some stunning vocal harmonies that symbolise some kind of musical liberation. Steer By The Stars is another beautiful song, co-written by Reingold and Tillison, with the most glorious a cappella ending. There's a gorgeous other-worldly quality to Travelling Minds, a ballad-like song that is full of atmosphere and mystery. Rounding off is God The Universe And Everything Else No One Really Cares About - Part 2, which is delivered like a stream of consciousness to a point of no return, ending with that plaintive piano where this epic journey all began.
This is a superlative piece of work in terms of the compositions, the playing, the singing and the production. I will surely not be alone in making this a leading contender for the best album of 2016.
***** Alison Reijman
Where to buy?
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