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Karma To Burn: Slight Reprise

Instrumentalists wrap up unfinished business

More of a refresher course than a proper new album, Karma To Burn’s latest release first saw the light of day – for the most part – as the limited-edition Cat Got Our Tongue EP, which shipped with 2010’s Appalachian Incantation.

According to KTB’s Rich Mullins, this one is the record that got away, the first album they intended to release 15 years ago before Roadrunner made them get a singer in the shape of Jay Jarosz.

So far, so confused, but what is absolutely certain is that there are three new songs here that don’t appear on their Cat Got Our Tongue EP – namely One, Seven and Eight – and John Garcia’s contribution on Two Times is the only vocal you’ll hear during this release’s entire run time, though that’s so low in the mix you’ll think it’s just someone singing outside in the street anyway.

It’s gutsy stuff, though – all of it – and you can fully understand why the band resisted the idea of getting a singer in (and why they subsequently fired him), as they simply don’t need one. This is emphatic in feel and more than happy to ride roughshod over conventional musical norms, and while they’ve been compared to stoner bands, theirs is a more circuitous route that takes in the early 90s New York sound typified by bands like Helmet and Prong when they were just getting their start.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion. He ghosted Carl Barat’s acclaimed autobiography, Threepenny Memoir, and helped launch the BBC 6 Music network as producer and co-presenter on the Phill Jupitus Breakfast Show. Five years later he and Jupitus fronted the hugely popular Perfect 10 podcast and live shows. His debut novel, Cross Country Murder Song, was described, variously, as ‘sophisticated and compelling’ and ‘like a worm inside my brain’. His latest novel The Death And Life Of Red Henley is out now.