Karmakanic – Dot (InsideOut Music, 2016)
One of the great Swedish progressive rock bands is back with a superb album titled “Dot.” How can you go wrong with a 23-minute suite titled “God, the Universe and Everything Else No One Really Cares About, Part 1”. The album was inspired by a text by the famous American author and astronomer Carl Sagan where he talked about how small and insignificant we are in this massive universe.
The first track on Dot is a brief sound effect intro that leads into the monumental piece ‘God Part 1.’ This suite uses the pop-style vocal hooks used by progressive bands like Big Big Train and Echolyn featuring beautiful male/female vocal harmonies and state of the art instrumental symphonic progressive rock sections that showcase the talent of Karmakanic’s members. It’s packed with masterful keyboard and guitar work.
Track 3, ‘Higher Ground’ begins with more of the happy pop vocal music sensibility although the band shifts to full progressive rock mode on the second part of this 10-minute piece, with memorable guitar, piano, and synth melodies and a beautiful harmony vocal conclusion.
‘Steer By The Stars’ is a much shorter song that feels like a classic rock song with sing-along vocals. It has a Todd Rundgren feel on the vocal side. “This 4-minute song stands in contrast to the 30 minute epic that is on the album,” says band leader Jonas Reingold. “I like the Yin and Yang philosophy; dark, bright, complex, simple. It has always been a real thread throughout the musical history of Karmakanic. It showcases Göran Edman at his best, Gentle Giantish vocal harmony arrangement with a stunning lead performance. This is also my very first compositional collaboration with my long time buddy Andy Tillison, he also recorded some awesome Hammond organ for the track. Start the engines and steer by the stars, it might take you to places never seen before.”
Track 5 begins with a lovely fretless bass melody. It’s a brilliant song with epic guitar and notable lead and harmony vocals.
The album ends with ‘God Part 2’ which begins with cinematic orchestration that leads into ballad-style vocals. The piece builds up very nicely with drums, synths, jazz-style fretless bass and vocals. The final part is an epic conclusion with majestic keyboards and electric guitar solo.
The lineup on “Dot” includes Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings) on fretted and fretless bass, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and vocals; Göran Edman (Yngwie Malmsteen) on lead vocals; Morgan Ågren (Casualties Of Cool, Frank Zappa, Steve Vai) on drums; Lalle Larsson (Agents Of Mercy) on keyboards; Nils Erikson on lead vocals; Andy Tillson on Hammond organ; Krister Jonsson on electric and acoustic guitars; Andy Bartosh on electric guitars; Ray Aichinger on saxophone and flute; Christine Lenk on backing vocals; Alex Reingold on backing vocals; and Norah Reingold on backing vocals.
The album artwork for Dot was developed by Hugh Syme, who has in the past made covers for Rush, Aerosmith and Iron Maiden. The album is available as a CD/DVD with live performances from Rosfest 2012, The Making Of Dot and Interviews; vinyl LP with CD; and digital download.