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EPISODES

Karcius

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Cesar Inca
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Always restlessly approaching their interests in an eclectic sort of prog rock that mixes jazz-rock, psychedelia, fusion and symphonic textures, the guys of Karcius have released yet another gem in their repertoire by the end of 2008: "Episodes" is a marvelous exhibition of how much creatity these guys carry in their minds and souls in order o keep their artistic proposal fresh and renewed. As always, this band's sonic framework is loose enough as to fluidly incorporate sources of musical power that somehow relate their essence to the standards of prog-metal. You can also notice some bizarre progressions and ornaments that feel quite close to the challenging pace of avant-prog. This album doesn't fall short concerning these assets, but as I said before, Karcius does not replicate itself. "Episodes" comprises some new explorations related to space-rock, which in turn serves as a motive to emphasize the psychedelic factor that had already been present in preceding albums. The three sections of 'Elements' open up the album in a most revealing fashion. 'Submersion', the autonomous title of the first section, openly flirts with he dense flow of your regular spacey psychedelic rock. At first, Suriol's piano keeps things on a level of dreamy majesty, but it is only when l? Esperánce's lead guitar comes to the fore that the track meets its main body and crucial development. Things pretty much get heavy-prog, featuring an incendiary guitar lead augmented by an ominous choir mellotron. The opening motif then returns, partially capturing the increased energy. The last two minutes get very spacey, with a bass guitar riff that paves the way for the emergence of 'Sol', the second section. This one is more celebratory, elaborating a jazz-funk groove that might as well remind us of Weather Report-meets-Brand-X. Near the end, things get hardened, linked to the current era of jazz-rock. 'Combustion', the suite's third section, benefits from this particularly explicit momentum, with a first part that combines metallish riffs and Floydian environments: there is something grayish, subtly sinister about it. After the 6 minute mark, things get tighter up to the point of arriving at LTE-like territory. The epic conclusion provides a reprise of the bridge between sections 1 and 2. This suite has been simply lovely, a manifestation of the album's main virtues as a whole. 'Incident' is more patently fusion-oriented, clearly influenced by good old Return to Forever (mostly due to the Flamenco-like atmospheres), but there is also that aura of musical extravagance that sounds closer to bands such as The Lonely Bears. The piano sonata entitled 'Levant' is only 2 ½ minutes long, but that's OK since its Gershwin moods are developed in a most efficient manner. A lovely piece, indeed. In this way, the listener is prepared to listen to 'Purple King', a solid rocker in which the lead guitarist seems o pay homage to Allan Holdsworth and Jeff Beck. The progressive ornaments that go settling in allow the band to teach a lesson of prog metal even if it is not a prog metal group. There is also an organ solo very worthy of a special mention, in which we find traces of Lord's exquisiteness and Emerson's vibration. 'Purple King' can be fairly regarded as the album's zenith. 'Racine' occupies the album's last 9- minutes. This one is very much like Ozric Tentacles: starting with a white reggae vibe, later on the track shifts towards a space-rock momentum augmented with fusion touches. This is very similar to Ozric Tentacles at their most sophisticated. Ultimately, the first motive is reinstated in order to provide a cosmic relaxation with agile spacey textures. All in all, this albums doesn't equal the robustness of 2kaleidoscope", but it is not to say that this album is soft or lacking stamina. It has lots of stamina, indeed, but the band has put it in a more subtle level. Karcius still rules!

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#200726)
Posted Monday, January 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is such a great album that I don't even know where to start!

This is a great example of what this band can do. They blend together different styles of music together so well putting together softer sides and heavier ones without brutal changes. They put together jazz, metal, rock, latin, folk, you name it. The songs are really evolving and ever changing.

Yes their main influence is clearly jazz but without too much improvisation. The tracks seem calculated to a high degree. There is no place for some 16 minutes solos or anything. They really focus on melodies which are mind blowing and since there are no vocals they speak with their instruments making the emotions even stronger. In one song you can go from ambitious to happy to angry to spooked.

The musicianship is marvelous. The drums beats vary with great transitions and accuracy. The drum tracks are just... WOW! The bassist is also very talented and masters different techniques so to adapt to the many genres they ride during the long songs. I could say the same for the pianist and guitarist. ...And if you can see them live DON'T MISS IT! Seeing them playing those pieces of art with such enthusiasm makes them even better.

Great melodies, musicianship, genres adaptations! I just don't know why they are not that known on Prog archives...

if I could give more than five stars I would

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Send comments to OceanTree (BETA) | Report this review (#215040)
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
avestin
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4 stars Karcius from Quebec, Canada have so far released 3 instrumental albums, all of them quite eclectic with regards to the styles played in the various pieces the comprise them. With Episodes, I hear a band that has developed, and for lack of a better word, matured; they are more delicate and precise in their way of delivering their instrumental pieces, more refined than before. They are still as varied as before, conjuring up different styles and playing in a dynamic fashion. In their first release in 2004, Sphere, which I very much love, they had a rawer approach and it was an eclectic affair that toyed with catchy tunes, heavy parts mingled with jazzy elements and cheerful melodies. Going forward to 2008 and their release Episodes, this is still a diverse offering, but one that has a refined and distilled sound of the band, with an underlying link between all the pieces; the progressive rock and fusion of the three-part main piece, Elements and the Spanish flavoured composition Incident to the mellow blues/reggae/jam tune Racines. The refined sound owes to the song arrangements and to the musicianship. There is fabulous playing by all musicians here; listen to the bass licks and drumming on Elements II: Sol; to the guitar and piano on almost each piece. It's a feast to the ears.

Elements alone is a reason to get this album. Fading in it starts delicately with a relaxed yet steady, particular drumming rhythm (heard more in the back of the mix) and a soothing bass line, soon joined by the piano and then guitar, welcoming us into this beautiful palace of sounds that awaits us. A wonderful Pink-Floydian guitar solo proceeds as the full band engages their playing. From here on is a 30 minutes of delightful rich sounding music that is divided into 3 parts (but is continuous). There are climaxes and emotional peaks, heavy parts at times even aggressive (around minute 5:30 in Submersion, the first part and at the beginning of part 3: Combustion), quieter parts, jazzy interludes, fusion and rock segments, darker moments, lighter and happier parts and so on. The music in each part revolves around the main theme, playing with it, changing it, maneuvering it and developing it to make it interesting and appealing (and succeed in doing so). The 3 parts themselves dissolve seamlessly into each other and make up a fascinating listen as a whole piece. In Incident, a fabulous Spanish flavoured theme is presented with violin embellishments here and there. The chorus, if I can call it that, is a splendid powerful part of piano and acoustic guitar together in a swirling movement, going back and forth, creating a magical moment. Levant is a short piece serving as transition to the piece Purple King as well as repose from the intensity of the music thus far. A mellow piano solo piece composed by the player (Mingan Sauriol), it's a beautiful composition that showcases what I suspect is a classical training. I'd love to hear more from him. Purple King start with a cool bass line, giving a mysterious vibe of something that is stirring up and about to reveal itself in its full magnificence. The ambience created here is outstanding, as the guitar licks add to the suspense and later electrifies the air. This is enhanced by the wonderful organ playing that creates a spell-binding atmosphere. This is a great rock piece by the band as the music twirls and weaves itself around the main theme, adding additional elements and layers to it until a peak at about 4:30, where it bursts further more as the lead electric guitar takes full charge of the situation and leads the band, with powerful drumming backing it up and the ever present Hammond organ delivering haunting playing. A highly intense track, no wonder it is followed by the tender and Racines with its bluesy/reggae and jam-like approach to close the album. It does speed up about 3 minutes in a fusion-on-acid like style only to go back to the original theme about a minute and a half later.

Karcius present in this album several Episodes, each with a unique theme and style. Much like their previous album, this is an eclectic affair, but it works very well for me and it's a great pleasure to listen to their music. I look forward to their next one.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#253342)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink

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