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KARNATAKA

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Karnataka biography
Founded in Swansea, Wales, UK in 1997 - Disbanded in 2004 - Reformed in 2005 - Suspended activity in late 2017

Following in the wake of MOSTLY AUTUMN, Karnataka aim to synthesise traditional Celtic music with melodic Progressive rock. Formed in the mid 90's, the original line-up of the Swansea based band included Rachel Jones (vocals), Ian Jones (bass), Jonathan Edwards (keyboards), Paul Davis (guitars) and Gavin Griffiths (drums), with Steve Simmons guesting on Saxophone.

Their eponymous debut demonstrated the bands capability in creating romantic, melodic, Camelesque and Floydian soundscapes, laced throughout with strong folk and Celtic influences (enhanced through the use of flute). These often atmospheric ambiences provide a backdrop for the beautiful, haunting voice of Rachel Jones; again reminiscent of Mostly Autumn's Heather Findlay, both in terms of her range, and in the harmonies she is able to create. The consequence is that Karnataka may be compared favourably with bands such as Enya, Clannad & Iona, and would be recommended for fans of those bands.

After two further studio albums; The Storm (2000) and Delicate Flame of Desire (2003), key members of the band broke away to form or work with other projects. By the time Rachel Jones (Cohen) had joined 'The Reasoning' in time to add her vocals to their 2007 debut Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, Paul Davis and Gavin Griffiths had already broken away to form PANIC ROOM with Anne-Marie Helder, who had performed backing vocals on Delicate Flame.

Sole survivor Ian Jones however has recently resurrected Karnataka with a new line-up consisting of Lisa Fury (vocals), Ian Harris (drums), Gonzalo Carerra (keyboards) & Enrico Pinna (lead & acoustic guitars). Having recently started touring together, the new band are also writing material for a new studio album, 'Chasing The Monsoon' which is set for a Spring 2009 release, and will include an appearance by Troy Donockley.

:::: Bio written by Jared, aka Fandango, Herefordshire, UK ::::

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KARNATAKA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 37 ratings
Karnataka
1998
3.51 | 58 ratings
The Storm
2000
3.38 | 85 ratings
Delicate Flame of Desire
2003
3.57 | 164 ratings
The Gathering Light
2010
3.76 | 95 ratings
Secrets of Angels
2015

KARNATAKA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.34 | 24 ratings
Strange Behaviour
2004
4.71 | 12 ratings
New Light Live in Concert
2012
5.00 | 4 ratings
Secrets of Angels - Live in Concert
2018

KARNATAKA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.36 | 9 ratings
In Concert
2002
4.27 | 11 ratings
Live in the USA
2003
4.38 | 8 ratings
New Light Live in Concert
2012

KARNATAKA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

KARNATAKA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

KARNATAKA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Gathering Light by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.57 | 164 ratings

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The Gathering Light
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 471

"The Gathering Light" is the fourth studio album of Karnataka and was released in 2010. It only happened seven years after their previous studio album "Delicate Flame Of Desire". Since then, the band have split and reformed with the only surviving member, Ian Jones, carrying the name forwards in a completely new incarnation. Thus, this is an album featuring almost a new line up, after the disbanded of the group in 2004 due to unforeseen personal circumstances. From their classic line up, Rachel Jones decided to take time out from the music business and Jonathan Edwards, Anne-Marie Helder, Paul Davies and Gavin Griffiths formed Panic Room, in 2006, remaining only Ian Jones in the group.

So, the line up of the album is Lisa Fury (lead vocals and percussion), Ian Jones (bass guitars, keyboards, piano, bass pedals, bodhran, percussion and programming), Enrico Pinna (lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars), Gonzalo Carrera (keyboards and piano) and Ian Harris (drums). It has also the participation of Troy Donockley (whistles and Uilleann pipes), Hugh McDowell (cello) and Philippe Honore, Bridget Davey, Clive Howard and Jane Fenton (violins).

"The Gathering Light" has eight tracks. The first track "The Calling" written by Jones starts the album with a very short and mellow instrumental piece of music. It's a song dominated by the Uilleann pipes performed by guest musician Troy Donockley, together with some atmospheric keyboard sounds played by Gonzalo Carrera and by Ian Jones himself. The second track "State Of Grace" written by Jones and Carrera represents another instrumental track. It's an up tempo piece of music that shows for the first time how strong are the new players with their instruments. Most of all, guitarist Enrico Pina shows how brilliant he is. This instrumental piece of music just sounds fantastic and at some moments it reminds me a little "Awaken" of Yes. The third track "Your World" written by Fury, Jones and Carrera is the song that gives for the first time the opportunity to hear the voice of the new female singer Lisa Fury. And the only thing I can say is that she shines in full glory. We can't compare Lisa's voice to the voice of the former female singer Rachel Jones. However, both voices are absolutely amazing and beautiful. The fourth track "Moment In Time" written by Fury and Jones represents a musical magic moment of music in terms of melody and vocal performance. It's true that it's a track with some pop influences, but however it's so beautiful that we can forget that. Once more we have the beautiful sound of the Uilleann pipes of Troy Donockley. The fifth track "The Serpent And The Sea" written by Fury and Jones is an epic track with over ten minutes long. Despite isn't a too complex song this is a song that suits very well with great musical performance by all band's members. In my humble opinion, the progressive rock influences rules are present on the entire album. The sixth track "Forsaken" written by Fury and Jones is probably one of the best tracks on the album. The climax of this song is just awesome and builds up to an incredible and great drum rhythms. It's a long song with great melody and orchestration that makes us completely surrender to it. Lisa has a wonderful gesture having dedicated this song to her mum and dad. The seventh track "Tide To Fall" written by Fury and Jones is a song that stands out from the rest of the album. It's an excellent song, once more with a very beautiful melody and with a clear slight Arabic feel. This is a song that my imagination can see clearly Lisa Fury to move eloquently like a real belly dancer. It's another great track, short, direct and effective. The eighth and last track is the title track "The Gathering Light" written by Fury, Jones and Carrera. It represents the perfect ending to this excellent comeback studio album of the band. Again we can hear Troy Donockley and his Uilleann pipes, the cello of Hugh McDowell and the wonderful string quartet for the first time. This is a monumental beautiful piece with masterful proportions that made many people love the music of them.

Conclusion: It's very impressive to me that a band that was practically reduced to ashes with only one remaining member may have returned from its grave with an album with the great quality of "The Gathering Light". All eight tracks are great and tender but it's in the details of the individual musicians that the magic of the album surely resides. Enrico Pina brings expression, sensitivity and emotion to his playing that the guitar melodies could be considered in the same way as vocal lines. Gonzalo Carrera has contributed to the album colours and every moment with his truly wonderful keyboard arrangements. These lead characters (guitars and keyboards), are very well supported throughout by a very dynamic and articulate rhythm section performed by Ian Jones and Ian Harris. Crowning the whole affair is Lisa Fury's vocal work. She contributes with emotional depth and passionate delivery with technical brilliance putting her with one of the best female vocalists, not only of her generation, but amongst those before her that left their distinctive mark in this genre of music. Thus, "The Gathering Light" is highly recommended to everybody who likes the older albums made by Karnataka, but also for those who like bands such as Yes, Genesis, Mostly Autumn, Iona, Clannad and Renaissance.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Delicate Flame of Desire by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.38 | 85 ratings

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Delicate Flame of Desire
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 467

Formed in the late of the 90's, Karnataka has released two studio albums, "Karnataka" in 1998 and "The Storm" in 2000, previous to their third one, this "Delicate Flame Of Desire". With this album, Karnataka continued to presenting their uniquely British ethereal progressive rock without ever resorting to empty flash or needless instrumental noodling. Their music is different. Ethereal is the term I usually use to describe Karnataka's music. But, this is simply Karnataka.

So, "Delicate Flame Of Desire" is the third studio album of Karnataka and was released in 2003. It was the first album to feature the new member, Anne-Marie Helder. It was the final album by the classic line up. The band was disbanded in 2004 due to unforeseen circumstances. Rachel Jones decided to take time out from the music business and Jonathan Edwards, Anne-Marie Helder, Paul Davies and Gavin Griffiths formed Panic Room in 2006. Thus, only Ian Jones stayed.

So, the line up on the album is Rachel Jones (lead and backing vocals and percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (backing vocals, flutes and percussion), Paul Davies (lead and rhythm guitars), Jonathan Edwards (backing vocals and keyboards), Ian Jones (backing vocals, bass guitars, acoustic guitars and percussion) and Gavin Griffiths (drums and percussion). "Delicate Flame Of Desire" had also the participation of Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn (baking vocals) and Steve Evans (programming).

"Delicate Flame Of Desire" has nine tracks. The first track "Karnataka" written by J. Edwards and I. Jones is a short instrumental track, a very interesting choice to begin the album. Decidedly, it has a Celtic musical influence, as much of the music of the band has, and acts beautifully as a prelude to the rest of the album. The second track "Time Stands Still" written by R. Jones, P. Davies, J. Edwards and I. Jones is a very beautiful track, and in my humble opinion, it's one of the best tracks on the album. It's a track that features some guest vocal participation of Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn. This is undoubtedly a track with great harmony and where Ian Jones with his bass line does a very interesting work. The third track is the title track "Delicate Flame Of Desire" and was written by R. Jones, J. Edwards and I. Jones. It's a very melodic track with simple riffs and a very easy rhythm. It's very nice and beautiful to hear. This isn't properly a progressive music epic, but it's definitely a very nice and good song. The fourth track "After The Rain" written by R. Jones, J. Edwards and I. Jones is a very nice and simple song that sounds just great. It's a song that remains, for me, very close to the music of Renaissance. This is simply a very beautiful and pleasant song to hear, indeed. The fifth track "Strange Behaviour" written by R. Jones, J. Edwards and I. Jones is a track that opens with a very beautiful musical atmosphere. This is a very mellow and beautiful track, once more with a marvellous vocal performance by Rachel Jones. It has also a great guitar solo by Paul Davies in the second half of the song. The sixth track "The Right Time" written by R. Jones, P. Davies, J. Edwards and I. Jones represents another beautiful and mellow ballad with a very nice melody and an interesting guitar break. This is a song that reminds me Mostly Autumn, and this is probably one of the reasons that justify why Karnataka is sometimes compared with that group. The seventh track "One Breath Away" written by R. Jones and I. Jones is a track that opens with samples followed by a catchy and nice beat very well supported by the voice of Rachel Jones. Despite it's a nice track to hear, it represents, for me, the only weak musical moment on the album. The eighth track "Out Of Reach" written by R. Jones and I. Jones is another very beautiful and nice track that features some very interesting strummed guitar performance and a nice vocal performance. Despite be a very simple song it's very pleasant to hear too. The ninth and last track "Heart Of Stone" written by written by R. Jones, J. Edwards and I. Jones opens with a great musical atmosphere before the vocals join it. This is also a song with great work by all band's members and where the entire band shines very high. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the best tracks on the album and represents also the finest and most progressive moment on it. This is a nice end to the album.

Conclusion: Everything on this album is very well done. "Delicate Flame Of Desire" is a collection of wonderful and well crafted songs. The work of all band's members is great. It sounds magically driven by the beautiful, dynamic and evocative voice of Rachel Jones. Paul Davies supplies a beautiful and powerful guitar work that provides a tasteful and emotional guitar solos or folk acoustic guitar textures. Jonathan Edwards does a marvellous job creating the pastoral sonic landscape to the rest of the band. Ian Jones plays his bass, functioning in a perfect synchronization with the solid and precise drums of Gavin Griffiths. Add the mix back voice of the backing vocalist and flutist Anne-Marie Helder and we have the complete picture. Karnataka is an original prog band with their sound oscillating between the symphonic and folk. I'm convinced that "Delicate Flame Of Desire" is a great album and represents something they can be proud.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Storm by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.51 | 58 ratings

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The Storm
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 443

Karnataka is a prog rock band that was founded in Swansea, Wales, in UK, in 1997. Karnataka was disbanded in 2004, was reformed in 2005 and that decided to suspend their activity in the late of 2017. "The Storm" is the second studio album of Karnataka and was released in 2000. Curiously, it was recorded in 1999, in the studio of the bassist of the group Ian Jones. The album was mixed at the Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales. Further live performances brought Karnataka to the attention of the record company Voiceprint that made the decision of distribute their albums.

The line up on the album is Rachel Jones (lead and backing vocals), Paul Davies (lead and rhythm guitars), Jonathan Edwards (keyboards), Ian Jones (bass guitars, acoustic guitars, bodhran and samples) and Gavin Griffiths (drums and percussion).

"The Storm" has ten tracks. All tracks were written by Rachel Jones, Jonathan Edwards and Ian Jones. The first track "Heaven Can Wait" is a gorgeous opener to the album. It starts with the sound of waves breaking on the sand, followed by a synthesizer harp like noise. After that, Rachel starts singing a beautiful and soft melody like we're in heaven. By chance this song represents my first contact with Karnataka's music. I checked this excellent track, incidentally, with "Mother Nature" of Mostly Autumn on the DVD "Progressive Rock Anthology", a DVD with a collection of ten progressive live concert clips of several progressive bands and artists, already reviewed by me on this site. The second track "Dreamer" represents another beautiful and excellent track with the celestial and unique voice of Rachel. If you've never heard Rachel's voice, it's somewhat similar to the voice of Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn. However, Rachel's voice has a bit of a mystical style. Her voice shine's through most of the album's tracks. The third track "The Journey" is, in a certain way, an epic track in its proportions. It's a soft ballad with beautiful acoustic and electric guitar works and an orchestral keyboard work. This is a song with powerful vocal melodies and other musical passages with some other lovely vocal harmonies. The fourth track "Hay" is a good song with a nice melody and, once more, is beautifully sung by Rachel. However, this always was a song that just doesn't worked very well on me, really. Probably the band was trying to experiment a bit with this song, but in my opinion, the final result not worked very well. The fifth track "Love And Affection" is a striking song where Paul Davies' powerful lead guitar and Ian's bass combine magnificently with Rachel's most sensual lead vocals that soar with a unique texture, showing her crystalline vocal abilities. The sixth track "I Should Have Known" is a sensitive ballad with Paul's melodic electric guitar parts leading the song and with Rachel's singing beautifully and illustrating her great and crystalline vocal skills. On the song, melodic bass and lead guitar join perfectly with Jonathan Edwards' keyboards. The seventh track "Everything Must Change" represents the return to the soft ballads. Rachel's sensual lead vocals are underscored by many layers of contrasting vocal harmonies. It's a better song than "Hay" is, and it's much more enjoyable to hear, indeed. However, it isn't really a true memorable song of the album. The eighth track "Shine" is also a kind of an experimental song. It opens with a soaring acapella intro before the rocking instrumental kicks in. Rachel's vocals are interspersed with many powerful electric guitar and bass effects, rich keyboards instrumental arrangements and rocking percussion. The ninth track "Writing On The Wall" is a song with a powerful bass work and a melodic electric guitar performance that contrasts with the sensitive sung vocal parts made by Rachel Jones. This is another beautiful and melodic song in the same vein of the rest of the album. The tenth and last track is the title track "The Storm". This is a very pretty song with layers of backing vocals and Ian's melodic bass style that support the melody of the lead vocals and recorder. Scottish small pipes arranged and played by Peter Davies join the sounds of the sea and do a memorable closing to this track and to this magnificent album too.

Conclusion: Karnataka's "The Storm" is an exciting follow up studio album after their self titled debut studio album "Karnataka". It has ten stunning vocally oriented progressive rock tracks. Probably the only weak track on the album is "Hay". Certainly, this is an album that appeals to fans of Mostly Autumn, Iona, modern Clannad and Renaissance. All these are well written and performed songs that are timeless in its construction technically superb. I recommend this album vividly to all those, like me, who like the British progressive rock song oriented albums and beautiful and elegant music. Ten beautiful themes sung by an impressive voice that are worth being heard carefully in our most melancholic moments in Autumn time, the time that I'm making this review. Concluding, I'm absolutely convinced that progressive rock fans who don't mind a bit pop in progressive rock should definitely take note of this band and this release. It's very well made, for the most part of it, and the real bonus on it is to hear the beautiful and gorgeous voice of Rachel Jones.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 In Concert by KARNATAKA album cover DVD/Video, 2002
3.36 | 9 ratings

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In Concert
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars - The first review for this DVD - KARNATAKA, formed in 1996, are a British female- fronted group playing melodic and relatively light & pop sensible prog with a Celtic flavour, like e.g. Mostly Autumn (when Josh lets the female members do the singing) and Iona. Have to say that I prefer both of them over Karnataka. There's surely nothing wrong with the vocalist Rachel Jones, and the musicians are good, but the songs tend to be less imaginative and less varied. The group is related to the more recent Crossover/ Neo Prog band Panic Room, whose Anne- Marie Helder is one of the three backing vocalists here.

This 90-minute gig was filmed in London's Mean Fiddler on 27 October 2001. At this point they had released two albums, although the set contains also songs from then-upcoming Delicate Flame of Desire. The music is melodic, accessible, clean and at times romantic. The prog elements are frankly pretty minimal, but that's the case wirh Karnataka's studio albums as well.

The location seems quite small and one cannot speak of any spectacular stage show. That of course doesn't really matter, but the visual quality is rather mediocre in an ordinary low-budget level of Classic Rock Legends production. The performances are okay, and the 15- song set list is very representative of the band. The fan will enjoy the show, no problem. Rachel is clearly the most magnetic figure in the group.

The extra features are technically modest. The photo gallery must be viewed clumsily pic by pic, no music backing either. More interesting is that there are extracts (approx. 2 minutes / 6 songs) from eight other live DVD's. The artists are Ian Gillan, Asia, Wishbone Ash, Caravan, Uriah Heep, Hawkwind, Strawbs and Rick Wakeman.

 Strange Behaviour  by KARNATAKA album cover Live, 2004
4.34 | 24 ratings

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Strange Behaviour
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars Yes, "Strange Behavior" is the final album from this lineup of Karnataka, and departing lead vocalist Rachel Jones is probably the best reason for you to grab this "live anthology" of the band before she and others left.

They perform all of the songs (except "One Breath Away") from their previous studio album "Delicate Flame of Desire", as well as many more selections from their other two albums. There are even a couple of "hidden track" songs tacked onto the last track "Out of Reach", which appear to be previously unreleased songs. With 134 minutes of music here, and a nice cd sleeve with photos of all the band members in concert, you really get your money's worth (assuming you can find it selling in the $20.00 range!).

If you're a newcomer to this band from Wales, Karnataka's music is sort of a cross between progressive rock and classic rock, with some Celtic/folk influences. They probably share the closest similarities with Mostly Autumn, except the vocals are all female. But you'll also find references to Hogarth-era Marillion, Genesis, Enya and some Renaissance. While their songs are mostly in the 5-7 minute range, they successfully weave romantic themes with lush, hypnotic atmospheres and catchy melodies.

The sound production on this live album is really great. Jones' fine vocals are harmonized sweetly with the voice of Anne-Marie Helder (who also plays flute). The standout instrumentalist in these performances has to be Paul Davies whose Andy Latimer/David Gilmour guitar passages really shine here on this cd - even more than on the studio albums.

This album will appeal to many lovers of music in general. There aren't any "killer" tracks that stand out and really move you, but there also aren't any "clunkers". Just a lot of good, pleasurable music of a slightly different nature. I recommend this cd as a great overview of a very entertaining band.

 New Light Live in Concert by KARNATAKA album cover Live, 2012
4.71 | 12 ratings

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New Light Live in Concert
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars Recorded at The Met in Bury on their 'New Light' Tour in 2012, I have only just come across this release, which was put out not long afterwards. I did actually see Karnataka in their early days at a very small gig, but to be honest I had only attended to see support act Sleeping Giant as it was an excuse to catch up with Dave Foster and I also knew Steve Rothery would be joining them onstage. Consequently, I do not think I actually saw more than a few minutes of the gig as I was outside with Mr & Mrs Foster, and certainly not enough to form a real opinion about them. After the first three albums the band broke up, but bassist Ian Jones later formed a new version of the band with himself being the only original member, since when they have released some highly acclaimed albums. They have continued to have line-up issues, and I note from visiting their website there have been further changes even since their last album, but on this tour Ian had been joined by guitarist Enrico Pinna along with new singer Hayley Griffiths and new keyboard player ağrı Tozluoğlu (neither of whom were involved with the previous studio album, 'The Gathering Light'), along with Colin Mold on guitars and violin, and session drummer Matt McDonough.

I felt that 'The Gathering Light' was a major release (I cannot believe it is ten years ago now), and here the band were touring with only Ian and Enrico left from the line-up which had recorded it. One would not have guessed that though, as here is a band in full confidence, knowing they have both the material and ability to win over any crowd. This is solid neo prog, with a strong rhythm section which allows the keyboards to often provide a backing for some sterling guitar work with both guys more than happy to provide some excellent soloing and harmonies. Then at the front is Hayley Griffiths. Karnataka was the first band she had been involved with, but prior to this Hayley had gained acclaim as lead singer in both 'Riverdance' and 'Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance' as well as releasing some solo albums. She may well be used to singing in front of much larger audiences than were there that night, but her knowledge of theatre and performing leads to confidence and she is in total control. Her voice is incredible, and the band provide both the perfect accompaniment and also take control themselves in the instrumental passages.

This double CD set contains fifteen songs, and the only problem I have with it is that it is too short! Amazing vocals combined with great musicians and wonderful songs, who could really wish for more? When I listen to this I am transported into a place and where time and reality no longer matters, as it is all about the music and the voice, and nothing else exists. Sublime.

 The Gathering Light by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.57 | 164 ratings

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The Gathering Light
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars In the dim and distant past I travelled to a Sleeping Giant gig, intrigued to see what the ex-So & So's were doing, and aware that Steve Rothery would also be appearing. But they weren't the headline, that honour belonging to Karnataka. To be honest, I wasn't exactly impressed with what they were doing, and spent more of their set outside chatting with Dave Foster, and wasn't overly surprised when I heard that they had broken up a while later. But, bassist Ian Jones kept hold of the name while others departed to The Reasoning and Panic Room, and eventually put together a brand-new band using the same name as before. The first time I heard this 2010 album I was amazed, as here was real power and depth, a vibrancy and passion that immediately made an impact. Lisa Fury has a great voice, while the rest of the guys (Ian Harris (drums), Gonzalo Carrera (keyboards, piano) and Enrico Pinna (guitars)) are wonderful musicians.

There are obvious similarities to bands such as Mostly Autumn, and when listening to their use of uilleann pipes, I had a little smile to myself and thought "There's Troy Donockley", and yes it was. They also use a "real" string section as opposed to synthesised, and I note that one of these is Hugh McDowell who I first saw on TV playing with Wizzard more than forty years ago, but is probably best remembered for his years with ELO.

The album starts with an emotional, atmospheric prelude, where held-down keyboard chords provide the backdrop for Troy to place his magic. "State Of Grace" commences with some beautifully clear guitar lines, and then the band start to build and really project. This album is a delight from the start to end with elements of folk combining with symphonic progressive rock to create something that is quite special indeed. The band seem to be just at home playing light and gentle or over the top bombast, and it is this contrast that highlights the different aspects of their music. The opening prelude, "The Calling?" is an instrumental, as is "State Of Grace", which is nine minutes long, and it is only a minute into "Your World" that Lisa finally makes an entrance, as the band move into a more syncopated style. Up to then the listener things that can there be no room at all for a singer as the music is so complex, and after that one asks why were they not using her previously?

I may not have been a fan of Karnataka in their previous incarnation, but I like these guys, a lot.

 Secrets of Angels by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.76 | 95 ratings

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Secrets of Angels
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Formed back in the mid-Nineties, UK band Karnataka originally earned attention with their second album `The Storm', fronted by Rachel Jones who would later sing for The Reasoning. Not as complex as other female-fronted prog-related groups such as White Willow, as overtly `retro-prog' as Magenta sometimes were, nor as gutsy as Mostly Autumn could be, Karnataka always had a more streamlined, straightforward yet classy pop/rock/ballad sound with light progressive qualities. The group are now on their third singer and a reworked line-up, and although the exquisite Hayley Griffiths has been performing live with the group for a few years now (initially brought in to replace singer Lisa Fury from their fourth album `The Gathering Light' who jumped ship pretty much by the time that album was just released!), this is her official studio debut for the band. It's great to report that `Secrets of Angels' is their best work yet that should see the status of the band raise even higher on the strong results they deliver here.

While the previous CD started to liven things up a little, in comparison `Secret of Angels' is bold, confident and delivered with great power and conviction, and although still very much song based, Karnataka's music sounds more sophisticated than ever before. Symphonic synths and dramatic orchestration is plastered over much of the album that even brings hints of gothic touches, more muscular guitars never resort to lazy metal riffing, big soaring choruses are memorable without being obviously commercial, and Hayley's vocals thankfully stay on the right side of musical-theatre without ever becoming cringe- worthy.

`Road to Cairo' is a punchy opener with middle-eastern tinged orchestration, and `Because of You' is the sort of goth-lite hard rocker with a massive chorus that would have made Evanescence a fortune at the peak of their popularity, and it's just as likely to appeal to younger female listeners as well. `Poison Ivy' is breathless and bombastic, the tip-toing melancholic piano verses of `Forbidden Dreams' are lifted by a gutsy chorus, and the more up-tempo `Borderline' stomps with purpose. Two more ballads then pop up - `Fairytale Lies' is highlighted by Hayley's sumptuous multi-layered harmonies and delicate harp throughout, while the deeply romantic `Feels Like Home' should be destined to soundtrack weddings around the world, as well as appealing to devoted couples. Awwww, dat's love, baby!

But the band finally truly stretch their prog legs with the seven-part twenty-minute epic title-track, and after a run of verse- chorus structured pieces, the extra running time allows more longer instrumental sections and less straight-forward passages. It reintroduces some of the light Celtic touches from their earlier albums, and it's unsurprising to find Troy Donockley contributing Uilleann pipes and whistles. There's a strong folk element throughout the piece with powerful symphonic roars, ghostly and ethereal siren calls over harp and plaintive acoustic guitar, cinematic orchestration swells and heroic guitar solos rising in victory. Best of all, some moments not only have a haunting Loreena Mckennitt-like old-world storytelling quality, but some surprising Fish-era Marillion-style Neo Prog glistening synth diversions as well! `Secrets of Angels' is far and away the most enchanting, complex and lavish work from the band yet, a truly defining piece for the group, and they would be wise to attempt even more of these kind of grandiose journeys on further discs!

Despite the album having consistently strong material, the band should definitely play the `prog card' a little more. Many of the earlier songs push the five-six minute mark, yet those are crammed full of vocals the majority of the time, when a few extra choice keyboard/guitar solo breaks would break up the pieces a bit more. But Karnataka have delivered a superb album with plenty of crossover appeal, big melodies and great playing in `Secrets of Angels', and their fans should be more excited than ever at the promising future of the current incarnation of this talented group.

Four stars.

 Delicate Flame of Desire by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.38 | 85 ratings

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Delicate Flame of Desire
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by sinslice

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.

Its 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.

 Secrets of Angels by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.76 | 95 ratings

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Secrets of Angels
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I hadn't bought a Karnataka album since 2003's Delicate Flame of Desire. It's Celtic infused prog folk was pleasant enough but left me a little underwhelmed. However on a recent Classic Rock magazine freebie Cd my attention was caught by the powerful Road To Cairo with its middle-eastern vibe, strong melodies and latest singer Hayley Griffiths crystal clear expressive tones.

Secrets Of Angels turns out to be a pretty good album but Road To Cairo is its best song. I'd question whether much of this music can be classed as prog, symphonic pop would seem a better description for the most part and there's certainly not much trace of the folk elements anymore. It's not complex music but all very slick and well played with a lush production. When I listen to Secrets Of Angels I could imagine a lot of this music sitting comfortably in a west end musical or in the soundtrack to a Walt Disney film like Frozen or Beauty And The Beast. Partly down to Hayley Griffiths classically trained background no doubt but sometimes the music gets a bit too sweet and twee for my tastes, especially the sugary ballad Fairytale Lies.

I did say Secrets Of Angels is a pretty good album though and it certainly does have its moments. Apart from the previously mentioned opener Road To Cairo, Poison Ivy and Borderline hit with a bit more punch. We're not talking metal here of course but the guitars do cut through the symphonic wall of sound a bit more. The album closes on a high with the 20 minute title track, which is a bit more along the lines of my pre-conceived expectations. It shifts from a Celtic flavoured opening into more bombastic orchestral flavoured parts and has plenty of dynamics with more instrumental interplay than the rest of the album put together, but still giving attention to some strong vocal melodies. At last I'm hearing some prog!

Overall then Secrets Of Angels is a pleasant listen with some strong melodies but unlikely to appeal to those who prefer their prog on the more adventurous side. A few more songs like Road To Cairo could have really raised the level considerably. As it stands a worthy 3 stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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