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Karcius - Kaleidoscope CD (album) cover

KALEIDOSCOPE

Karcius

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.23 | 27 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Karcius has to be one of the most exciting prog-jazz bands around in the current times: the sound that this ensemble from the French Canada offers to the listener is fresh and powerful, showing off its legendary influences yet shouting out its crucial modernity. "Kaleidoscope" is their sophomore release, which is a giant step in the development of musical inventiveness already exposed in their debut album. These guys really nailed it on this one, creating a strong melodic basis for their improvisations while lucidly avoiding the traps of easy-listening all the time, minute by minute, second by second. The psychedelic adornments (rough guitar phrases, mellotronic synth layers) and bizarre ornaments (chord transitions heading for the dissonant) make the band assured on this particular labor whenever they appear. Among all this progressive extravagance and all this jazzy freedom there is a genuine sense of order working in the instrumental interactions. The albums kicks of with 'Hypothèse A', a solid example of the band's capability to ordain a sequence of varied motifs into an unifying scheme, at times reminding us of a hypothetical hybrid of Gentle Giant, Return to Forever and Weather Report, with an extra dose of punch akin to modern times jazz-rock. 'Maintenant' keeps things a bit slowed down, with a featured Latin-jazz vibe in the initial section - a special mention goes to those fretless bass guitar phrases, deep and evocative. Even though there is an enhancement of the sonic energy as the track develops, the airs of mystery and relaxation prevail. 'Destination' kicks off with a solid guitar-and- organ riff that states the funk-oriented dynamics that takes place: this piece may sound to you as a mixture of Tribal Tech and Return to Forever. The Latin-jazz element reappears in many passages, in this way adding a catchy atmosphere. With 'Tunnel', things get heavier than usual (even getting a bit close to the standards of LTE and Planet X), but never as saturated as your regular jazz-prog-metal ensemble. In moments like this you have to admire these guys' capability to keep things under clear control without decreasing the punch. 'Hypothèse B' is the longest track (lasting more than 11 minutes). The piano's solemnity, the guitar's subtleties and the bass's soaring lines are combined to provide a sense of sophistication to a very sober number. A bit of tension is introduced with the use of some Frippian guitar lines along the way. The slow final section is one of the most captivating passages in the album. 'A-0-14', while retaking some of the energy of 'Tunnel', drives the music to a more experimental level: the piece's nucleus is a very bizarre Karcius snippet. The album's final minutes are occupied by 'Hypothèse C', which shows Karcius at their most bizarre, flirting with RIO (Present type, to be more specific) in the distinctive climatic passages - the piano coda states a grand finale to the album's repertoire. Once your "Kaleidoscope" listening experience is over, you can't help wonder how the band will manage to make yet another interesting album after this one: that's their challenge. Anyway, "Kaleidoscope" is an excellent addition to any good prog and/or jazz-rock collection.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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