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4 stars After three studio albums, KARNATAKA must have thought that it was high time to make a live album, and rightly so. This CD, "Strange Behaviour", is the perfect anthology from the repertoire of this symphonic rock band. Actually, this is the album that everyone has been waiting for. Even though the music is still what you imagine it to be, the studio albums were always a bit too clean and polished and even too well produced. People who know and love the band will know what I'm talking about. Luckily, this 'defect' can be corrected. On this album, they should sound just like you hear them: deliciously symphonic, but with the necessary rough edges of the guitar. Because of this, the CD has become a real guitar album, but without the endless flim flam that some other guitar albums have fallen prey to. Every guitar lover will agree that the solos, riffs and loops are to die for. Paul Davies knows how to dish it out. This is the ideal mix for the symphonic rock lover: atmospheric and well thought out compositions with the right feel for melody, harmony and song structure and then sprinkled with divine guitar solos, all performed by talented musicians. From a vocal perspective, Rachel Jones, together with Anne-Marie Helder, carries the album to a high level, as well.

This album is therefore the ticket to the music of KARNATAKA for the rest of the world who is not yet familiar with them. There should be a sticker on the CD for those who want to try something new or have been putting off buying it. And that sticker would read: "Caution. The music on this CD could change your musical tastes for the rest of your life."

>>> Review by: Jany (9/10) Translated by Jennifer Summer<<<

Report this review (#30820)
Posted Sunday, June 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the best live albums I have ever listened to. Excellent sound with songs with different approaches from their originals, especially because of Anne-Marie Helder doing perfect backing vocals to Rachel Jones excellent singing.

The music throughout the album is highly enjoyable and contains their best tunes. I recommend this album for those who never listened to Karnataka.

Report this review (#30821)
Posted Saturday, September 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars KARNATAKA is a band full of accomplished musicians with the talent to make world-class music every time they record, which they do. I have yet experienced the pleasure of hearing them in the studio, but that time will happen soon enough. Previous to this 2 CD set; I heard another live performance on a DVD (In Concert) nearly two years ago, that introduced to this fine band. They certainly seem to be in their element performing live and this recording is more evidence of that.

"Strange Behaviour" is an awesome example of the hypnotic power that this band holds over their audiences throughout an entire performance of the various tracks from their catalog. This fantastic 2003 presentation certainly held me spellbound throughout. The combination of instruments and vocals are magical. Rachel Jones has an angelic voice that sucks you right and does not let go. When Jones' vocals call upon the guitar of Paul Davies he answers with subtle or powerful licks. The adept guitarist provides whatever is necessary to make everything work perfectly for her voice and the tempo of each composition. Jonathan Edwards is amazing on keyboards, what a talent; he also knows when to be strong or laid back. Their music works with the ebb and tide of emotion found in each song, in total synchronization with the lead singer. Everyone plays their parts beautifully, taking the cue from each other then stepping in to add their contributions, including Gavin John Griffiths (drums, percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (vocals, flutes, shawn & percussion) and Ian Jones (bass and acoustic guitars, bass pedals).

The eighth track on CD 2, "Out Of Reach," signals the end of the concert but it is not. There is a brief pause then more music comes your way, a few songs (I'm assuming they are the previously unreleased tracks) totaling more than 24 more minutes, which are as extraordinary as every other previous recording. I don't think I have ever heard a bad song by this band, it's amazing.

This production and recording is so good that it makes you feel as though you have a VIP seat right there while it's all happening, quite extraordinary if I do say so myself, and without any major label backing thank you very much. KARNATAKA is the best band you have never heard. I think its time all of that changed. In my humble opinion, they are one of the best bands in the world. This would be a wonderful introduction to their incredible music so make sure you get it. After a second dose of their live shows, I need to hear all of their studio albums now!

Report this review (#30822)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wanted to explore Karnataka for a while and after hearing a song on internet radio decided to take the plunge with this release instead of going through their three studio releases. And thank all that is good that I did! This is a rapturous live album with stellar production and wonderful musicianship throughout. Rachel Jones and Anne-Marie Helder make a strong twosome in the vocal department, with Jones doing most of the leads. Wonderful voices from both and the music greatly benefits from having two vocalists singing off each other.

As for the music, comparisons to Magenta would be apt as it is in that vein, but it is not quite as diverse as what I have heard from Magenta. Karnataka plays to their strengths, which is symphonic prog with mainly guitar, bass and drum driven songs with the keyboards mainly providing a lush backdrop, although several songs feature more keyboard driven melodies. They are listed here as prog folk, but that could be argued. Most all of the songs feature moving and diverse guitar solos from Paul Davies. If you are not big on guitar solos, this probably isn't for you. The rhythm section is top rate and makes a great back bone to these mid and up tempo songs.

The last song is listed as 24 minutes, but Out of Reach only comprises about half of that (and what a wonderful 12 minutes that is!) They introduce band members, then there is a short silence and they play two more songs in the remaining time. If you like Magenta and have a soft spot for female-led, beautiful, lush music, this would be a great addition for your collection. Since they don't really stray too much from formula and there is not a wide diversity in the songs, I can't give it five stars, but the beautiful music factor rates it at least a four.

Report this review (#108410)
Posted Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't believe it took me so long to stumble across this wonderful band! It was only after seeing Anne Marie Helder in London, at the Mostly Autumn Astoria gig, that i decided to hunt Karnataka down! I'm glad I did- after a couple of short samples from their own site I decided to pick 'Strange Behaviour' up on a whim. When it arrived 2 days later, I was blown away by the stunning music spread across these 2 CDs! Each musician is excellent, not least in the case of guitarist Paul Davies, whose lively solo's add a whole extra dimension to this recording!

There are many excellent tracks here, standouts being 'after the rain', 'delicate flame of desire', 'the storm', 'strange behaviour', 'talk to me', 'heart of stone' and 'out of reach'. Yes, there really are that many incredible tracks on here. This album more than deserves its 5 star rating!

Report this review (#118461)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars One of the most beautiful CDs I had the opportunity to hear in the last year or two. Absolutely stunning perfomrance by this very underrated band from the United Kingdom. Their studio albums may sound a little too polished, but Strange Behaviour shows how good they are in front of an audience! Their sound is a joy to hear from beginning to end, and weīre talking about a 2 hour+ album!

Karnakata music is quite unique but if you want some reference think about a more progressive version of Clannad, less folkish and more rockier. This impression may be given by the fact that Rachel Jones has a superb voice that is a bit similar to Clannadīs Maire Brennan. Add that to Anne Marie Helder fine harmonies and you have a perfect combination that makes you shiver everytimne of you hear them singing together. Helder also plays the flute on some songs to give an extra texture. Simply great.

But letīs not forget that the musicians are also superb and work as a tigh unit. Sometimes is hard to believe this is a live album. All them are great, but mention must be given to Jonathan Edwards beautiful keyboards textures and, specially, to guitarrist Paul Davies who shows his tasteful guitar breaks and solos everytime the song ask for it (and then giving it a little bit more!). Absolute perfect timing and talent.

Ok, they are a bit mellow sometimes, but never lame. In fact I canīt really find any fault in this album. If you like melodic prog rock with some incredible female vocals, this is a must have. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#119617)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This live album is a very pleasant one. But unfortunately the last one from "Karnataka". Their debut album showed a very solid band putting together a very good pop-prog-folk music almost carbon-copied from "Mostly Autumn". But since I find this band rather catchy, I could only be pleased with what I heard.

Both bands have a great duo vocals / guitar. Rachel Jones / Paul Davies for "Karnataka" and Bryan Josh / Heather Findlay for "Mostly Autumn". To make things more complicated, Anne-Marie Helder (vocals / flute) will participate in the work of both bands, while Rachel will be backing vocalist on "Storm Over London" a live album from ..."MA". Both bands appeared on the same bill as well (i.e. in Rotherham in 2001). Cross-history in a certain way.

IMHHO, their best work was their debut album. So, I'm a bit disappointed with the tracklist of this double CD set since only three songs are featured. Nonetheless, this live set is damned good. To be honest, it is almost comparable with "The Story So Far" from "MA". Same bewitchment for Rachel's vocals for this one as for Heather on "The Story...".

Her tone of voice, so deep, so passionate, so skilled, so ... perfect is just an enchantment. What a pity that she will stop singing with "Karnataka". The future of the band is also very vague if you look at their web-site : still touring under this name but releasing a "debut album" under the name of "Chasing The Monsoon" with a new line-up. Strange and totally unclear.

Anyway, this set is full of nice melodies, very well performed. The whole is maybe a bit lenghty, mellow and too much of the same thing but it is really worth a listen. "After The Rain" is absolutely fantastic (both guitar & vocals) but it is hard to mention an average song because there are none. Another highlight is "The Right Time" and the closing "Out Of Reach".

Just like "MA", some average songs will be turned into good ones thanks to Paul Davies's guitar-work ("Delicate Flame Of Desire") for instance. Over two hours of excellent music. Not a masterpiece but a very much recommended live album. For those willing to enter their catalogue, it is a winner although as I have said in the preliminaries of this review, their best work is their debut album.

I will rate this album with four stars. I'm so in love with Rachel's voice (and look, because on top of being a great vocalist, she is a superb woman as well).

Report this review (#145117)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink

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