Released: 2004, Regain Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Bassist Jonas Reingold of The Flower Kings is now releasing his second album with his own project Karmakanic. The debut with this project, “ENTERING THE SPECTRA”, was released 2002. On Karmakanic’s debut, Jonas brought in a bunch of people as compared to this one which has a steady line-up. However, there are some guest appearances on this album as well - Göran (Yngwie Malmsteen, Glory, John Norum etc.), and Zoltan (The Flower Kings and Space Odyssey) are hanging on from the debut and Krister seems to be a newcomer in this line up. Roine Stolt (Transatlantic, The Flower Kings, Kaipa) makes a guest appearance along with Thomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) and Richard Andersson (Time Requiem, Space Odyssey).
The bio compares Karmakanic with acts like Yes, Dream Theater, King Crimson and even Frank Zappa but most of the people I’ve talked with have said that this sounds like Karmakanic and nothing else. I would call this symphonic/progressive rock and the 70’s influences from the debut are no longer here. Compared to the debut, this album is easier to listen to and the songs aren’t as long either. That is, except for two songs at 8 minutes, one at 12 minutes, and an ultra long one at 15 minutes. The longer instrumental parts are still here but they aren’t as long as on the debut. Another difference between the two albums is that Mr. Edman’s has more space for his lead vocals. However, even though this album is an easier listen, it takes some time, like it does with all symphonic / progressive music, to really get into the music and appreciate it.
I assume that Jonas Reingold has produced and mixed this album in his own Studio Reingold in Malmö, Sweden. He has done a great job with the production and as usual when it comes to Mr. Reingold there’s nothing to complain about there. Of course Mr. Reingold impresses with his bass playing as he is one of Sweden’s best bass players right now. Mr. Czörzs (drums) on the other hand should stick to playing this kind of music and not get himself involved in doing hard rock/metal at all. The impressive job that Mr. Edman (vocals) did on the debut is nothing compared to what he does here. He sounds (if it’s possible) even better here showing incredible nerve and feeling with his lead vocals.
Of the songs there are of course some that are a bit better than others. My personal favorites are “ALEX IN PARADISE” that starts of with a child’s voice (Mr. Reingold’s own flower child) saying “Papa” before the song kicks off. It starts like symphonic/progressive rock with Mr. Edman taking a big part of the sound picture. There are quite a few tempo changes and at the end comes a shorter instrumental part before Mr. Edman starts to sing again. This is one of the shorter songs with at just 5 minutes. “AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT” has a long intro with a bass solo and then the rest of the guys come in. After about a half-minute Mr. Edman comes in with his magical voice. This is also a symphonic/progressive track but has a bit of a slower tempo. There is a passage with a longer guitar solo before Mr. Edman comes back into the picture again. The chorus repeats throughout the song and at the end there is another instrumental part where drummer Mr. Czörzs shows what he’s got. “WHERE EARTH MEETS THE SKY” has a longer intro with a lot of stops and different tempos. Then there is a shorter keyboard solo with very distinctive bass below the keyboard. All of the guys are involved in the ‘intro’ that lasts almost three minutes before Mr. Edman joins in and the tempo slows down to be a ballad. The tempo rises and falls before it finally turns into an up-tempo ballad. Mr. Edman’s effort here is brilliant; it sounds like they have used some strings in this part as well. There is also some female vocals in this song and the music turns into something that sounds similar to folk music. This is one of the longer songs at 13 minutes and happily it doesn’t feel that long. “WHEEL OF LIFE” is a track that sounds like symphonic/progressive rock influenced by folk music. It sounds like they have used a flute in the song and there are a lot of tempo changes. There are some really long instrumental parts and also a longer guitar solo. At the end, Mr. Edman comes back in the song with his brilliant voice and closes the track.
I have nothing to complain about here, Mr. Reingold and the guys are building a very varied musical landscape on this album that you just have to be impressed by. The cover looks very nice and it captures the music I think. Even though this album is easier to digest than the debut, this is an album that has to grow on you. You have to let the music fill your senses in order to really enjoy this. I recommend this album strongly just as I did with the debut. Mr. Reingold continues to deliver first class symphonic/progressive rock like no one else. Jonas Reingold is a genius, there’s nothing more to say than that.
According to the info I have, the band are about to head out on tour later this year but when is not clear yet. It also says, “Karmakanic is here to stay, remember Karmakanic”.