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Panic Room - Visionary Position CD (album) cover


Panic Room


Crossover Prog

3.55 | 46 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Panic Room formed from the four members of Karnataka who weren't involved in what I can only assume was a soap opera between bassist Ian Jones and his ex-wife and singer, Rachel Jones. Ian carries on in Karnataka with an all-new lineup while Rachel is now part of The Reasoning and is married to their bass player, former Magenta player Matthew Cohen. Sounds like the whole jumbled mess would give JR Ewing and the folks in Dallas a run for their money. But what of Panic Room and their new entry Visionary Position into the Neo/Crossover realm? Well fans of the old Karnataka should be very pleased.

The first reason is Anne-Marie Helder. She certainly gives Rachel Cohen a run for her money in the pipes department. While not as "breathy" (for lack of a better word) as Cohen, Helder's voice ranks up with the best in the business right now. She is a true musician who plays the flute, guitar and keyboards (though only flute here on VP) as well as being a main songwriter here with keyboardist Jonathan Edwards. Anyone who got a taste of her talent on the Strange Behaviour live CD from Karnataka and liked what they heard will be truly pleased here.

As for the music, there are certain songs that conjure Karnataka in almost every way. But first off is Electra City, where Helder plays the part of a robot servant. The vocals are given an electronic treatment to give this effect, but there are also clean vocals during the song. The music has an electronica aspect to it until about the sixth minute, then everything abruptly changes. The song does a 180 that takes you into a smoky piano lounge and the piano takes the song to the end. Kind of weird but enjoyable.

The middle songs vary from moving ballads to full on and bombastic Karnataka type songs. Apocalypstick does stand out as breaking out of that mold, adding an eastern music element through the use of electric violin. One strange thing I noticed is the lack of guitar solos. Strange Behaviour had one in I think every song over its two full disks and I figured these guys were hot wired into having guitar solos. But I only counted two or three throughout and they were fairly restrained.

The album ends with another odd song. Not odd as in bad, but odd in its structure. It is almost 19 minutes long but has three distinct parts. The first 12 minutes is a beautiful song in the Karnataka vein. Then a break and we go back to the smoky piano lounge for a bit. Then another long bit of silence and the electronica type of music from the opener finishes off the song. So not the full out prog epic some may have hoped for when seeing the length for the first time.

I am a Magenta freak and am always on the lookout for female fronted bands that may be in their style and on their level. Mostly Autumn disappointed me almost totally. Karnataka came close but does not have the genius of Rob Reed in the song writing department. Panic Room is on a level with Karnataka but they made some effort to get away from their sound while embracing it at the same time. After hearing Visionary Position, I am still searching for another band on Magenta's level but this is very well done and I think these guys (and one lovely lady) can deliver even better in the future. 3.75 Stars.

johnobvious | 4/5 |


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