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Karnataka - Delicate Flame of Desire CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.37 | 83 ratings

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3 stars This swan-song of the classic lineup of Karnataka is a study in overproduction and musicianship overshadowed by sterile studio perfection. Another reviewer compared the sound of this album to October Project, and while I’m surprised someone besides me even owns a CD from that band, the reference is entirely accurate.

The other inevitable comparison is also overwhelmingly obvious, that is to Mostly Autumn. The musical arrangements are almost identical to the latter Mostly Autumn albums, with loads of wailing guitar and delicate yet powerful female vocals courtesy of the lovely Rachel Jones (who seems to have every bit of the range and vocal strength of Heather Findlay); not to mention also having Mostly Autumn’s current flautist as well (Anne-Marie Helder). The only difference I suppose is that Mostly Autumn seems to have better promotional management and a deeper catalog.

There are no poor tracks here, nor are there any great ones. The album is actually surprisingly even, and maybe that’s part of the problem. At least with Mostly Autumn there was always one standout, powerfully distinctive track on every album (or at least the first several). “Heroes Never Die”, “Evergreen”, “Never the Rainbow”, “Riders of Rohan”… you get the idea. Nothing like that here though. “Strange Behaviour” is the closest the band comes to something memorable, but mostly just because this was developed as a melodic, poppish number with simple riffs and an easy-going rhythm that long- haired young girls can sway to in the crowd at concerts. Not exactly a prog music epic, but definitely radio-friendly.

In other places the band almost seems to be intentionally parroting other artists, like the lead-in for “The Right Time” which sounds exactly like Mostly Autumn’s “We Come and We Go”; or “Out of Reach” which sounds like most of Enya’s catalog, complete with the choir-like backing vocals on the chorus.

The lengthy “Heart of Stone” starts off promising, but unfortunately the gratuitous synth noises cheapen the song, and in the end it comes off as not much more than another showcase for Paul Davies screaming guitar highlights.

I’m curious to hear how Jones sounds now that she’s in the Reasoning; hopefully that band has songwriters with the necessary creativity to challenge her and showcase that voice. For Karnataka this goes down as a decent album, but not as a classic and not very highly recommended. Four stars for the quality of the musicianship, but only two for the writing and arrangements.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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