Describing a progressive rock album is never easy. With so much diversity and surprise, the more it’s listened to, the more it enables the listener to discover. And because there is just so much to this music, it is difficult to contain its essence in words. Still, this album is just too good not to give it a mention, and hopefully this little preview will encourage you to experience it in full.
Karmakanic is a project of prominent musicians of the progressive and fusion scene. Started in Sweden by Jonas Reingold (also bassist for The Flower Kings), the group also features his friends Göran Edman (vocals), Krister Jonsson (guitars), Nils Erikson (vocals, keyboards), Lalle Larsson (keyboards, backing vocals) and Marcus Liliequist (drums). The band grew and evolved as a collective, changing and adding to the line-up to bring out the best in created music. Formed in 2000, the group has released three studio albums, in between other artistic endeavors. ‘In a Perfect World’ is their fourth offering, on which Karmakanic deliver some high quality progressive rock, sounding slightly old-school yet brand new at the same time. The group’s music is unpredictable and defies all expectations. This album is not intended for background listening – it requires your attention – and it will get it.
1969 is the epic opener of this album. Full of rapid time changes, shifting dynamic and a vast array of sounds, this over 14-minute long composition is simply stunning, a fascinating showcase of the band’s music mastery. The 80’s-inspired synthesizers are at the forefront of attention, being a driving force of the song. In between of those space-age sounds there’s a serious lyrical pondering on the state of the world: “We cannot fathom what we have become”. The World Is Caving In is another one of the lengthy pieces, although more heavy and melodic than the album’s opener. It starts off quietly, with lyrics being sung over the sound of the sea and a piano. More instruments are added as the piece unfolds and becomes more dramatic. The personal lyrics come to the fore as the vocalist ponders: “Will I ever see new beginning, when my little world is caving in”. This album is not just challenging musically, but also talks about social and personal struggles.
That being said, certain compositions unwittingly put a smile on your face, as the musicians experiment with different sounds and genres. Can’t Take It With You is one of those songs. Opening with a lively Latin rhythm, heavy riffs are introduced to contrast those cheerful sounds. First in a dialogue, the two are then mixed, forming a rather interesting combination. The piece discusses the worth of material possessions over heavy metal sounds, to then break into a cheerful Latin tune. And of course, as in any decent prog song, instrumental madness ensues. It is certainly one of the more peculiar gems on this record. Bite the Grit is also somewhat of a curious hybrid. Starting off as a cheerful and pleasant indie rock tune, it suddenly turns heavy, loud and intense. The variety of instrumental passages, between guitars, violins and a piano, only add to its interesting character. Turn It Up is another one of the more ‘radio-friendly’ pieces on the album, although not as heavy as Bite the Grit. The energetic mix of drums and keyboards makes for a more streamlined listening experience, yet the music is still engaging and different.
‘In a Perfect World’ is an excellent record. No matter what your favorite genre is, this album will have something for you. Each song has its own character and is interesting in its own way. This record is yet more evidence that modern music is just as good as it’s always been. And you don’t have to take the writer’s word for it – here’s something to get you started!
Written by Natalia Gronowska