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Karmakanic - Who's the Boss in the Factory? CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 482 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars It's not everyday you come across a very talented group of musicians with a sense of humor and relationship with The Flower Kings (thanks to bassist Jonas Reingold).

Yet he's now got an official group that compares and now, even rivals that of The Flower Kings.

This whole cavalcade of Swedes knows how to make music, and they know how to do it in a humorous fashion (where else would you find a song in 7/8 with the band singing about 7/8?), seen in "Let In Hollywood". You can instantly tell on the opening of "Send A Message From The Heart". While the intro may have been better without the childish singing intro, you can just tell from the bombastic, somewhat lengthy intro that you're in for a 20 minute long epic. As such, there are some influences still lingering from The Flower Kings, yet as you transition from "Entering The Spectra" to "Wheel Of Life" and finally to this record, you'll notice the pattern; Roine Stolt was featured heavily on "Spectra", not as much on "Wheel" but the sound was still there. Here, there is no guest appearance by Stolt and this is the disc that creates Karmakanic's sound, not a "Flower Kings spin-off" sound.

One thing to immediately take off this first track alone; the keys are definitely more predominant. Yes, The Flower Kings used keys extensively, but mostly for symphonic and atmospheric purposes. I would consider this an Eclectic or Neo prog group myself. The technical ability of Lalle Larsson is phenomenal, as evidenced by his solo midway through the track. Of course, Larsson is a fantastic musician, but the sound of Krister Jonsson just screams "70's Pink Floyd" guitar. There are always those musicians who relate to having that special guitar sound, the one you can just pick out from a mile away.

I guess we can say he just loved that sound.

Of course, good songwriting helps too, and the slow, ballad-esque section in the tune exemplifies that. After all, Stolt practically built the entire career of The Flower Kings on happy, sappy, hippy tunes (obviously he drifted away from that philosophy, but you get my point), so you can obviously hear the resemblance there. Other than the fact that the instrumentation is fantastic, it's just your typical double digit minute long symphonic prog monstrosity.

"Let In Hollywood" is one of those quirky songs which, in most case, fail, because most prog bands never succeed in the "pop" department. Technically, this song will never make it to the Top 100, but it is a nice change of pace from the mammoth just before it. This 7/8 pop track makes good use of the time signature (and the lyrics that actually sing about 7/8), but despite it's attempt, I still hold it as a wonderful track. After all, when was the last time you heard a decent pop song (in general) in 7/8?

The self-titled track starts off in a more mournful, foreboding tone than it's larger, happier counterpart. It almost brings me to a sense of pop blending with Riverside or Oceansize, or more accurately, Tinyfish. Göran Edman tries to manipulate the title words into a catchy verbing, but to not much avail. However, it is a wonderful track that very much differs from "Send A Message". While the former stays true to the symphonic genre, the latter definitely touches on the Neo-prog side of the genre, even eclectic at times (evidenced by the mini funk rock section in the middle highlighted by an abbreviated Larsson solo). There still is instrumentation towards the back half of the track, highlighted again by Larsson, jumping back and forth between a Porcupine Tree song and a 60's raindance song. It's more of an instrumental buildup and jam, rather then a round robin passing game of solos and fills.

Of course, from a somewhat stale (depending on your point of view), instrumental wise, "Two Blocks From The Edge" starts off with that predictable, lovable guitar sound from Jonsson. Oddly enough, it seems to take another direction towards The Flower Kings, before the sax kicks in and it feels like "Boss, Pt. 2". Normally, this variance between albums would tick me off, but as I listen to "Spectra" and "Wheel Of Life", they were both more symphonic in style and texture. Now, this band seems to be embracing both eclectic and neo styles in order to broaden their horizon and create their signature sound. Remember, these guys are Karmakanic, not a Flower Kings side-project.

One thing I found interesting is why "Eternally" is divided into two parts. Eventually I realized part one was just an open solo for Larsson, while part two just stems off from it into its own song, although it still feels like a Larsson solo track. The added sounds of what sounds like a high pitched clarinet give it an almost, eh, "Italian restaurant" feel, for lack of a better term. It's a poor way to finish an album, but as a standstill track, it's a wonderful ballad of sorts.

It's truly a fantastic album, the defining piece of music for this band's repetoir. This album has clearly defined their sound with their mix of symphonic elements, to their dabbling of eclectic and neo prog elements, as well as their "Pink Floydian" guitar sounds and elements mixed in. Jonas Reingold has finally removed the "Flower Kings side project" label from this outfit and put this band to the upper echelon of modern progressive rock names like The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard.

Wicket | 5/5 |


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