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Karnataka - Delicate Flame Of Desire CD (album) cover



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5 stars My favourite album of 2004 by a long way, though it did take me about 20 hearings to really appreciate its subtlety. Rachel's singing gets better and better and the songs are well composed with engaging, intelligent lyrics. Karnataka are also fabulous on-stage entertainers! BTW they are from Wales though - not England!
Report this review (#17227)
Posted Thursday, January 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars KARNATAKA's "Delicate Flame Of Desire" is a beautiful album with showcases some of their best work so far. Once again they are fronted with the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Rachel Jones. Jones' voice is absolutely stunning and whose style is tonal and deep with conviction in a sensual and evocative style not unlike that of Joanne Hogg of IONA and Mary Fahl of OCTOBER PROJECT. Musically KARNATAKA actually remind me very much of OCTOBER PROJECT and IONA with their celtic-like inspired sounds and song writing style. KARNATAKA don't really break any new musical boundaries here but do deliver an album full of dramatic, multi-layered arrangements and emotional beauty. For those who love celtic-like prog will definitely love this album.
Report this review (#17222)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The perfectl cd to listen to before going to bed or after a hard day. The voices are sublime, the guitars and keyboards so pure and the melodies so natural yet you can find some complexity after several hearings. Perfect in its style.
Report this review (#17223)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Beautifully crafted melodic rock. The vocals are haunting and the the musicianship top class. This band deserves to be huge. The production is lush and song constructed. A worthy addition to the collection of fans of Mostly Autumn etc.
Report this review (#17226)
Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Really 4 1/2 stars. Rachel Jones has the best female voice I have heard since the heyday of Anne Haslam and Renaissance. More of a prog-classic rock cross, with folk-Celtic influences, but not as much as Mostly Autumn. The entire CD is very good, with no weak songs to bring it down. The best songs are "Time Stands Still", "Strange Behaviour" and "Heart of Stone". Most of the songs clock in at the 5-7 minute range, with only "Heart of Stone" reaching epic length of 10:31. While the musicianship is excellent, it is the voice of Rachel Jones that carries your mind and soul away. Out of all the 2003 releases I bought, this was my my favorite. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#17229)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rachel Jones WOW!!!!!! She have one of most beatifull voice in a world.The arrangement of baking vocals is so malodic and pure.I Listen this album for my relaxation. is very slow i think we have many prog asprct in a guitar and keys , but in general little pop(radio) music. There's why a recommande for all good music fan and prog fan.
Report this review (#17231)
Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars After I read the many good reviews about this album, I decided to put an ear to it. The least I can say is that I was very disappointed. From the descriptions I read, I was expecting some celtic traditional instrumentation blended with prog elements (something in the style of Clannad's 'Fuaim'), but what I heard is some insipid radio-friendly pop music. I don't even understand how such a band can be regarded as prog, as it is not very far from artists such as Lene Marlin or The Corrs. The same remark could apply to Mostly Autumn's music. Even the vocals, which are the only good point here, don't rescue the overall feeling I have about this record. I have nothing against pop : I like pop-prog (or art-pop if you prefer) artists such as Kevin Gilbert, Kate Bush, Rupert Hine, Tony Banks but here, the music doesn't make anything to me. As a prog album, I can't give any star and as a pop album, it doesn't even deserve more stars. I wouldn't advise anyone to purchase this album : this is IMHO a strictly commercial affair and if you want a sincere marriage of art- rock with celtic folk music, check out Clannad, Alan Stivell's 'Before landing' or Sally Oldfield's 'Water bearer', all three artists/bands proposing far more superior releases, both in terms of instrumentations and vocal harmonies.
Report this review (#17233)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars More prog-lite than prog, but I don't mean that in a negative sense. With so much manufactured rubbish around these days, it truly is a tragedy (in a strictly musical sense) that Karnataka are no more just when they seemed to be on the verge of achieving a level of success their music deserved. Each studio album was an improvement on the previous one, and the gorgeous Rachel Jones has the voice of an angel. If you're into Mostly Autumn-style melodic rock then you really should give this a try.
Report this review (#17234)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really liked their first album which was seriously "Mostly Autumn" - oriented while their second one was a little less inspired. This one is probably more personal altough "Time Stands Still" seriously reminds me of ...Genesis ("And Then There Were Three" period).

"Delicate Flame" will please all the "MA" fans. Typical stucture : very pleasant ballad to start and the the beat catches up and turns towards a more rocking number featuring a superb guitar solo which remings Gilmour. You know the story I guess. But the charm always works (either with "MA" or Karnataka"). One of the highlight. The next song "After The Rain" is almost of the same, less melodic but enjoyable as well.

The only reproach maybe is that most of the songs sound a bit alike. Still, the compositions are of high quality, the band playing very well and of course the sublime voice from Rachel is always a pleasure for the ear. Maybe that the impression of déjà vu is too invading. But if like me you like the filiation, you can live with it. This feeling applies definitely to "Strange Behaviour". Performant guitar solo in the second half (would you believe !). Get your carbon for "The Right Time" : mellow ballad, nice melody, guitar break and tutti quanti. Sounds familiar, right ?

Like another reviewer mentions, it is also true that at times this band sounds as "The Coors" and that some songs are on the poppish side but it is so pleasant... Only one blunder IMO : "One Breath Away". A folky funk song ...Rather disturbing and useless. The best thing is to skip this one. "Out Of Reach" is a swooth acoustic ballad whose highlight is again the marvelous Rachel's voice.

The closing number starts on a spacey mood : crystal voice and aerial keys and such a sweet melody as well as a pleasant guitar break (it has been a while actually, but this time we won't need to wait for the last part of the song to get it. What a change !).But the last part is very much world-music orientation is taken; not truely my cup of tea. It should have deserved a more vibrant finale. Melancholical vocals throughout but a bit invading actually. I would have preferred some more instrumental breaks

This is good album, not much diversified and not so brilliant as their first one. If you are a purist, this album is not really for you. This is prog (a little) pop-folk (a lot). Still, three stars for this pleasant moment.

Report this review (#143430)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars For all the beauty of its singers and folk inspired melodies, Karnataka has a thick sound that wears thin before the halfway point of the CD. Overproduced and over-arranged to the point where every pure element is compressed into something grotesque, "Delicate Flame of Desire" collapses under its own obesity. The group has studied with the masters, be they Renaissance, Barclay James Harvest, Clannad, or Mostly Autumn, but they have failed to reference some of the high end characteristics of those bands - subtlety, variety and, yes, delicacy. Every part of the mix is jacked up all the time to the point where nothing can really be appreciated on its own, like a choir with everyone beautifully singing solo all the time, and not necessarily the same song. Nonetheless, "Time Stands Still", the title track, and "After the Rain" all sound just great, but they ultimately rushed this listener into a burnout that could only be cured by differentiated instrumentation and production, hence I turned to my copy of Renaissance "Turn of the Cards" or even Clannad's relative misstep "Sirius" in haste, lack of delicacy having extinguished my flame of desire cold.
Report this review (#165615)
Posted Thursday, April 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
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.


Report this review (#171434)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars After quite some listens (between 5 and 10) this album had finally taken me away: it is so beautiful!! The songs are simply good, maybe not very surprising but simply good. Rachel Jones' voice fits the music perfectly. Her somewhat hoarse voice, most of the times also mellow (and, in my opinion, very different from the stronger voice of Heather Findlay) blends with the fierce guitar of Paul Davis. But fortunately there are many quiet moments in the songs in which there is ample room for a slower pace. My favourite song is the title track because of its melody and very beautiful end. But in fact there are no weak songs on this album. Their strongest atudio album, no doubt. It is such a pity that this great band broke up after the tour that followed DFOD.
Report this review (#189634)
Posted Monday, November 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars My first experience with Karnataka is this - beautifully named - third, and last with the original line-up, album. While listed under prog-folk, the listener will instantly realise that the musical orientation of this band is not quite as described here.

There is some small truth in the term prog-folk, as the band tries to mix traditional Celtic tunes with prog (related) arrangements. The result probably leans towards the first direction; folk elements appear in a relatively ''soft'' atmosphere and mostly in the vocal melodies of Rachel Jones and the scarce flute phrases and guitar solos. Progressive music is not really embedded in the music as the few neo-prog elements (in the vein of 90's Marillion, Arena) never take the lead.

The whole album flows in a charming ethereal atmosphere and the highpoint is clearly Rachel's voice which creates an emotional aura. While resembling to bands and artists like Enya or Mostly Autumn, whatever Karnataka chose to deliver, they deliver well. ''Pop'' is probably not the appropriate word to describe the approach, but definitely there is a ''commercial'' or, in other words, simplistic tendency. The tracks are attractive pieces of melodic soft rock coloured with neo-folk harmonies that work very well but do not create a memorable outcome.

The first part of the record is much more interesting with some magic moments; the title track is the one that in my opinion stands out. As the album progresses, the composing ideas are not developing at the extent that someone would expect and the tracks feel somewhat weaker approaching the end. Melodies seem to be repeated or remain static, without necessarily being uninteresting. Also, the length of the album (~62 mins) does not justify the number of novel ideas.

The potential problem of this flame of desire is that it is way too delicate, but this would not prevent me from enjoying it from time to time, being in the right mood - not looking for challenging tunes, but rather some well-formed melodies sung by the appropriate voice...

Report this review (#275303)
Posted Monday, March 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Of course, as I hoped, this is beautiful album. I wasn't expecting nothing less. But what's the problem ? People here consider these melodies too poppy. This is not pop album. You don't even have to listen to this album and see first sign - track lengths, 5-10 minutes, lasting fine total time over 61 minutes. Singing is also far from being pop, these two ladies has beautiful voices, deep and strong. This only supports entire beautifulness. So far so good.

And songs ? Atmospheric, sometimes ballads, even some of The Corrs element, but it's like enhanced, doped, so called Progified version, that it sounds so good. Of course, the more melodic certain album sound, the more pop it will sound to certain people.

4(+), the only thing this album lacks is pop.

Report this review (#282508)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This band is often compared to MOSTLY AUTUMN and IONA, I suppose because it's Folky with a female vocalist. No Celtic flavour here but like IONA there is some good atmosphere on this album, just not nearly enough. For me this is a little too sweet if you know what I mean.

"Karnataka" is the opening instrumental with lots of atmosphere early and some vocal melodies 2 minutes in. Drums late. "Time Stands Still" features some guest vocals from Heather Findlay (MOSTLY AUTUMN). I like the bass in this one more than anything else. "Delicate Flame Of Desire" has laid back vocals early with bass and drums. Guitar before 3 minutes and even better guitar 4 minutes in that goes on and on. "After The Rain" is more of the same really but brighter.

"Strange Behaviour" opens with atmosphere and wind as vocals join in. This is fairly mellow with a beat and vocals. "The Right Time" opens with vocals and a beat. It's fuller before 1 1/2 minutes as contrasts continue. Not a fan. "One Breath Away" opens with samples followed by a catchy beat (gasp) with vocals. "Out Of Reach" features strummed guitar and vocals. Not a fan. "Heart Of Stone" opens with atmosphere as vocals join in. Guitar 3 minutes in. Not a fan of the sound after 5 minutes. Vocals and a fuller sound before 7 1/2 minutes.

I feel like this deserves 3 stars but must admit i'm disappointed overall.

Report this review (#286695)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Karnataka is a progressive folk/celtic band from UK with 4 albums released so far. Delicate flame of desire is their third album and I think , at least for me their best. Also this is their final album with original line-up, the female vocalist Rachel Jones will join The Reasoning on the first album, the rest of the musicians minus Ian Jones - the keyboardist Jonathan Edwards and the drumer Gavin Griffiths will form later on the band Panic Room. As the title implies the album is very delicate, gentle with many melodic lines, the voice of Rachel Jones being quite intresing and catchy specially on Time Stands Still. The music is moderatly complicated with celtic and folk passages, remind me of Iona or Mostly Autumn. A pleasent album with enough memorable arrangements to be intrsting for most of the prog listners. Nice instrumental sections combined with dreamy vocal lines Delicate flame of desire is a good album for sure. 3-3.5 stars for this one.

Report this review (#963245)
Posted Tuesday, May 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars There is also a time to enjoy this kind of music.

One of those rare gems that I initially heard without much enthusiasm some years ago and grew in importance to go appreciating the compositions and performances, good taste, and the distinctive, warm voice of Rachel Jones, perhaps the main protagonist here .. with some timely flute contributions, and guitars and keys perfectly accompanying emotions to be transmitted.

It´s true that "One Breath Away" is almost irritating, out of place here. "Heart of Stone", which beautifully and with great class closes the work, the title track (with an exciting solo guitar), "After the Rain", "Out of Reach" and "The Right Time", are essential tracks.

From progressive rock standpoint, I understand that it has not generated recognition in general. Still, it contains the required dose for progressive rock lover interest. This is rock, with Folk and Celtic Folk ingredients. A good amalgamation of Iona, Mostly Autumn, Renaissance and Clannad.

Report this review (#1447355)
Posted Thursday, July 30, 2015 | Review Permalink

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