Karmamoi - Room 101

(CD 2021, 60:59, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- Memory Holes(9:12)
  2- Drop By Drop(8:33)
  3- Dark City(7:15)
  4- Zealous Man(10:53)
  5- Newspeak(8:06)
  6- Room 101(7:15)
  7- The New World(9:45)

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Karmamoi is a musical project by Alex Massari (guitar and backing vocals) and Daniele Giovannoni (drums, keyboards, backing vocals and composer) and rooted in 2008. The circle was closed with the arrival of Fabio Tempesta and Alessandro Cefalì on bass. In January 2011 the band officially launched its first album at Rising Love, one of the most popular stages of the Rome music scene. In 2012 a new EP arrived entitled Entre Chien Et Loup and one year later Karmamoi launched their second album entitled Odd Trip (2013, see review). Karmamoi played on April 16th at The Borderline in London, as opening act for the historic British prog rock group Curved Air. Then they suffered from several changes in the line-up and finally Karmamoi became a prog trio. Late 2016 their new album Silence Between Sounds (see review) came out, in a true prog style. In 2018 the band (now reduced to the duo Massari and Giovannoni) were working on their new album The Day Is Done (see review) when they witnessed the horror of the Grenfell Tower on television and this had a huge impact on the members. After reading the heartbreaking story about the Syrian brothers Mohammed and Omar (they fled from Syria, had a safe home in London but Mohammed died in the Grenfell Tower disaster) the band decided to pay tribute with a concept album, featuring guest musicians singer Sara Rinaldi, Colin Edwin on bass (Porcupine Tree) and Geoff Leigh on flute (Steven Wilson). I wrote about it: “Tasteful and elaborate compositions, a captivating balance between skills and emotions, this is an album to discover!”

On this new album Room 101, inspired by George Orwell's famous novel 1984, the band has returned to a trio featuring Daniele Giovannoni (drums, keyboards and backing vocals), Alex Massari (guitars) and Alessandro Cefalì (bass). And Karmamoi has invited a fine selection of guest musicians, including Adam Holzman (Miles Davis and Steven Wilson) on piano and the Moog Solo on track 5, Steve Unruh (Resistor, The Samurai of Prog and UPF) on violin and flute on the tracks 1, 2 and 5, and Francesca Zanetta (Unreal City and Quel Che Disse Il Tuono) on the Solina string-ensemble in track 1.

For many fans of Karmamoi it will not be a surprise that for the new album the band has chosen to get inspired by the legendary novel 1984 by George Orwell. Because the dark story in 1984 matches perfectly with the melancholical overtones in Karmamoi's music. Most of the 7 compositions contain dreamy, mellow, alienating and hypnotizing atmospheres with slow rhythms and tight beats, at moments turning into bombastic eruptions. The soft female vocals sound soaring, strongly contrasting with the powerful sound of the guitar, this evokes a lot of tension: intense slide guitar in Memory Holes and Newspeak (along an exciting Minimoog solo), moving in Drop By Drop, fiery guitar in Dark City, venomous and nerveracking in the dynamic Zealous Man (along jazzy piano), and heavy guitar riffs in the claustrophobic titletrack (including a flashy synthesizer solo).

The most alternating composition is the final The New World (close to 10 minutes). It starts bombastic featuring fiery repetitive guitar and tight beats, then cascades into shifting moods, topped with powerful guitar and a long, pitchbend driven synthesizer solo. A pretty bombastic goodbye in contrast to most of the mellow and melancholy music in the previous tracks.

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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