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Karmamoi - Strings from the Edge of Sound CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.29 | 48 ratings

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5 stars Well, this was an unexpected surprise to say the least, as other reviewers have described this opus with understated eloquence, yet I found it to be even more complex to put in words, as I was hit by various levels of inspiration and creativity, listening the first time through. Normally, the process is a cursory, rather distant audition in order to focus in on the style and a later second full-blown and in depth listen to start creating the words that match the feelings the music evokes. Not here! Within a few seconds, I was immediately hypnotized by some otherworldly elements that fractured my senses (as well as my prog radar), reacting to the sounds with uttered words such as "wow", "what the hell" and mostly, "WOO!". Let us start with what the aliens say when they land on earth 'Take me your leader'! Karmamoi is centred around a rather rare talent in Daniele Giovannoni, a fabulous drummer in his own right, conjuring images of PFM strongman Franz di Cioccio, then we have a stupendous singer in Valerio Sgargi, who can modulate his expansive voice according to the needed context with apparently little effort or struggle. Combined with the stringers, Alex Massari on electric guitars and bass man Alessandro Cefali, the foursome will, if you get it, inspire the listener with fascinating aural adventure.

'Who am I and where am I going' are the uttered words that has spanned all of human existence, all races, civilizations, languages, and every living creature consciously or not, has expressed this concept. "Black Hole Era" slings the mood into the this upward spiral where voice, acoustic guitar, keys, and manic drums transmit the trepidation of adventure. The orchestral interventions add not only a lush symphonic grandeur but also serves to create the first tangible characteristics of a music that is both ritualistic, organic, and utterly ceremonial, a mixture of tribalist percussion and rampant electric guitar slashes that thrill to no end in sight. The denouement is cosmic. Speaking of stars in the universe, "Nashira" is owned by a solitary piano setting the tone, as cello and strings advocate a sombre melancholia, where Sgargi passionately lets his lungs to sing, as the athletic drumming throttles forward unconcerned and concussive. The mood is obsessive, temperamental, and yet wholly engaging, even when confronted with chaotic passages that boil the sucked blood. A relative calm arises when the synergy brings all the involved together into harmony and revelation.

The Grenfell tower inferno is the subject matter for "Take Me Home", a masterful track that drips in devastating tragedy and loss, the voice haunting and propelled by poignant despair. At times, I felt like the music was inspired by late 80s This Mortal Coil, a unique band that incorporated ghostly harmonies, heavy classical orchestrations. The swerving arrangement comes across like a burial ground requiem, a pulpit from which the vocals and choir can expiate their collective pain, as if Carmina Burana has resurfaced to plead her case. The last prayer is expressed a sorrowful guitar and collapsing cymbals. Absolutely majestic. A brief moment of levity in your prototypical prog ballad, armed with a lethal melody and off the charts vocals, "Tell Me" successfully manages to soothe the senses, as the band concentrates on a sublime path and its inherent blooming beauty. When the chorus takes over, the effect is crushingly exquisite. The apex is reached when mellotron strings and choir invite the slippery electric guitar to heighten the pain and the apotheosis is celestial. Outrageously divine.

Back to the gloomy Orwellian spookiness of "Room 101", where a tingling tick-tock of sweat-inducing angst of being mercilessly strapped in a torture chamber's chair, a damp space rife with the pungent aromas of terror and extreme anxiety. The contrasts between moments of intense infliction of agony and the even more cruel respites that offer momentary hope are perfectly presented here, as if witnessing the interrogation. When the violin streak and the piano rivulet combine slyly to wreak even more eventual havoc, is gulp worthy fare. Creepy and possessed. "I Will Come" reverts to hymn-like qualities found in the earlier "Take Me Home", but the scenery here is overpoweringly fragile, reminding one of recent Anathema as that band was emerging from their doom-laden darkness and looking for some sunlight. The vocal and choir work are absolutely majestic, as the orchestra elevates the arrangement into the upper levels of bliss, a total highlight track that sealed the deal for the romantic sucker in me. I kneel at the shrine?

Soundtrack to some long-forgotten Bond-like escapist adventure, "Your Name" unites the organic symphonics with a muscular beat, a controlling bass, and some clever guitar inflections. Chase, heavy breathing, and echoed voice, this is quite the departure from the previous material. When the atmosphere settles, the other polar opposite arrives suddenly, with no quarter given. Ornate piano and a colourful bass prepare the table for a forlorn voice to take over the proceedings once again, choirs in the background and orchestrations that evoke a gloomy, rain drenched afternoon of dullness. Sgargi pleads in an amazingly convincing gargled tone, the intolerable sorrow of the crying Massari lead guitar to slay the inner demon. A jazzy flurry of piano stets this to bed. A Jazzy flurry of piano introduces the epic 12 minute "Zealous Man", a clever return to the desolation of the earlier "Room 101" (you can tell its prog when there are so many little detailed connections, segues and follow ups) before the animated strings take over, the electricity cranked up on the chair, and the intimidator crows his delight with his sadistically soft tone. Claustrophobic, bombastic, resonating and persuasively possessed, the track is a perfect example of modern progressive rock, done with finesse, power and skill. And our Italians surely have a lovely proven history in that regard! Contrasts, shades and streaks of light, all filigree and shadow. When the gripping massed violins return for another stab, the drums kick into overdrive, fuelled with chiseled excellence, the charring lead guitar flinging this superb piece into the stratosphere. WOW!

A final "Arrivederci", the title track comes like a symphonic tone poem from South Tyrol, all that was missing was an alpenhorn to say goodbye, 'pfiat-enk' (in Tyrolean) or Wiederschaun. A cinematic ceremony of progressive rock infused with expertly involved classical orchestra that provides all the ingredients needed for a wonderful date with your headphones, a glass or two of Montalcino and some Roman (yup) candles.

5 cords from aural cliffs

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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