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Karmakanic - "In A Perfect World" (CD)

Karmakanic - "In A Perfect World" CD cover image

"In A Perfect World" track listing:

1. 1969 (14:40)
2. Turn It Up (6:53)
3. The World Is Caving In (8:58)
4. Can't Take It With You (5:42)
5. There's Nothing Wrong With The World (7:22)
6. Bite The Grit (4:57)
7. When Fear Came To Town (9:54)

Reviewed by on August 31, 2011

"There’s much more to Karmakanic than fantasy lyrics and wistful instrumentals. There’s a real sense of adventure in the songwriting, as simple is a forbidden word in this band’s vernacular bank."

The Flower Kings bassist Jonas Reingold has not only kept himself active with his main band, but with a side project in Karmakanic that is his complete creation. They have already recorded three albums, and now add one to the pile with “In A Perfect World.” The band has a ton of love for '70s prog rock, with clear nods to Yes and Genesis. There’s much more to Karmakanic than fantasy lyrics and wistful instrumentals. There’s a real sense of adventure in the songwriting, as simple is a forbidden word in this band’s vernacular bank.

At over 14 minutes in duration, the massive jam “1969” is all that is good and evil about progressive music. The musical work will blow minds, like anybody else in the genre, but the band’s love of lengthy interludes hurts them in the middle of the song. It just goes on and on, until the subdued ending brings the song back into play. While a few tunes get near double digits, they are much more refined than “1969.”

Vocalist Göran Edman is the attraction on “The World Is Caving In.” He gets over a full minute to himself to hand a sorrowful mood to the song. It does pick up, not wallowing in its own pity for long, but the emotion is never taken out. Edman does a grand job with this task, though his penance to over-emote works against him on “When Fear Came To Town.” It’s a serviceable closer, with amble acoustics and lengthy blues jam, but Edman pulls out this falsetto that has a strange resemblance to Dennis Reynolds in the Day Man episode of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”

Karmakanic pairs the progressive material with friendlier numbers. It’s a dynamic that makes “In A Perfect World” easy to trod through. “Turn It Up” and “Bite The Grit” trade in complexity for rhythm-tapping groove that could fit on an XM playlist. The Latin-flavor of “Can’t Take It With You” brings on a sultry tone smothered in flair and style, courtesy of Edman and the soulful piano work posing as the main melody. It’s out of place compared to the other six tracks, yet is the most infectious song on the album.

A lot of these songs are not held in place by guitars and drums, like most bands, but by bass and keyboards. Since Reingold is a fantastic bassist, it’s no shocker that the instrument has a hefty role in the band. The keyboards use a lot of piano effects, though there’s always a sweeping synth movement to be exposed. These instruments are where the real treasures of “In A Perfect World” lie.

Karmakanic has a talent for culling from 70s prog and modern progressive music like Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree. The album is not all fluffy and light, with some serious lyrical content and electrified intensity. People that wished for a time again where prog music was actually popular should have their hearts fluttering at the sound of “In A Perfect World.”

Highs: The focus on bass and keyboards is a nice change of pace, great mix of progressive songs and shorter material, band injects a ton of variety into the album

Lows: Awkward vocal crooning at times, "1969" is a little too ambitious

Bottom line: One of the better progressive albums released this year, with an emphasis on '70s prog and catchy hard rock.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)