KARMAKANIC COVER GOD, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING ELSE IN NEW ALBUM 'DOT'
Swedish prog outfit Karmakanic released their fifth studio album, 'Dot', via Inside Out records on July 22nd 2016. Available in Special Edition CD Digipak (incl. bonus DVD), 180g Gatefold LP (incl. the album on CD) and Digital Download it could be described as founder Jonas Reingold's most ambitious effort to date.
Given that the album is bookended by parts one and two of a thirty minute epic called 'God, The Universe And Everything Else No One Really Cares About' ambitious may be an understatement! A mere six minute excerpt of the song can be heard in this lyric video:
Given that the song takes up three fifths of the album it is of course the focal point of the album and it deserves to be. It is one of those perfect epic progressive rock songs which grows on you the more you listen to it. Full of repeated atmospheric motifs on keyboards and guitars showing the link between this kind of modern song writing and classical music (Reingold describes Richard Strauss as 'the first progger in my book') it builds and twists and holds together beautifully as a song throughout. Even dropping in some superb jazzy keyboard and bass solos just adds to the whole rather than distracting from the central idea.
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I am always fascinated by the creative process and the inspiration for this song is fascinating. It basically came from Reingold coming across a quote from noted astronomer Carl Sagan after he saw a picture of Earth taken from the edge of the solar system by spacecraft Voyager 1. Our planet looked like a bit of dust illuminated by a sunbeam and Sagan said " ....every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."
I think the song lives up to the scope of the subject matter and 'Dot' is worth buying just for that alone but of course there is more here to enjoy.
'Higher Ground' is a little further down the scale of prog epics, clocking in at a mere ten minutes or so. The subject matter could be described as more mundane as it's about Reingold's experiences growing up in a small Swedish town but it still gets the full Karmakanic soundscape treatment. With a more narrative tone maybe with a nod to Reingold's love of singer songwriters outside of the usual prog fare it sounds almost like a long, complex pop song at times but with a little original twist never too far away.
In addition there are two shorter songs on the album, the lush, uptempo melodic tones of 'Steer By The Stars' and the more introspective musings of 'Travelling Minds'. I wondered how someone can end up writing such different lengths and styles of song and Reingold replied "First of all I never think, I just do. If I find a subject that inspires me I let the subject take me along and I´ll try to enjoy the ride, If it ends up being a 30 min piece or a three minuter rocker really doesn't matter to me. But also, there´s a lot of thinking going on after the first rush of inspiration, then the hard work begins, deciding if it will develop to a big song, if I have enough ideas to actually make a 30 min epic. Too many bands just go on autopilot and it doesn't sound inspiring, I´m scared to death that my music will be judged in that way."
I don't think Mr Reingold has much to worry about how his music is judged going by the quality on display here. Backed by a super bunch of musicians the writing and playing and sheer enthralling depth of 'Dot' is a complete joy. I have to admit however that I do like to program the album so I get to hear the full thirty minutes of 'God....' in one go. Just my choice.
If you have the slightest interest in prog rock then this album really is worth your attention. Give it a listen. Or even better a few listens, you won't be disappointed.
Jonas Reingold: Fretted and Fretless Bass, Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Keys, Vocals
Göran Edman: Lead Vocals
Lalle Larsson: Keyboards, Vocals
Morgan Ågren: Drums
Krister Jonsson: Electric and Acoustic Guitarsv
Nils Erikson: Lead Vocals
Andy Tillison: Hammond Organs
Andy Bartosh: Electric Guitars
Ray Aichinger: Saxophone, Flute
Christine Lenk: Vocals
Alex Reingold: Vocals
Norah Reingold: Vocals