Karmakanic - DOT album review

Jonas Reingold's side- project Karmakanic can see your planet from here…

Karmakanic's album artwork for DOT

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Originally established as a side project outside of his regular gig with The Flower Kings, Jonas Reingold’s Karmakanic has developed its own life over the last decade or so. Fifth studio album DOT reunites bassist Reingold with regular fellow ’Makanics Göran Edman on vocals, keyboard wrangler Lalle Larsson, guitarist Krister Jonsson, and Nils Erikson on keys and vocals, alongside new boy Morgan Ågren on drums.

Quality stuff, suggesting greater things are possible.

Opening with God, The Universe And Everything Else No One Really Cares About Part 1, it’s clear the boys aren’t mucking about – this is an expansive, sweeping 24 minutes of odd-time instrumental workouts, gentle piano-based breakdowns, astounding drum fills, moody jazzy sections, repeated leitmotifs, and even a female/children’s choir. Stylistically, it’s vaguely reminiscent of both The Flower Kings and another Reingold-related band, The Tangent, but it manages to find its own voice. As with many multi-part works, it can seem a little disjointed, but repeated listens help make sense of the whole.

Fans of the long-form song are well-served, as second track Higher Ground, a bittersweet reflection on Reingold’s upbringing in small‑town Sweden, also clocks in over 10 minutes. Perhaps as a conscious balance to the album’s opening salvos, Steer By The Stars is a punchy, concise, melodic rocker, co-written by Andy Tillison, which marries upbeat pop-rock to lush instrumentation and some great vocal harmonies. It demonstrates both the versatility of the band and the strength of the Tillison/Reingold writing partnership, and suggests the pair really ought to work together more often. The last couple of tracks, Travelling Minds and …Part 2 of the album opener move into more thoughtful and contemplative territory. Fans of Reingold’s playing will have a bit of a swoon at the intro to Travelling Minds, as smooth, jazz-tinged bass work glides over the acoustic guitar and piano backing.

Although not a concept album per se, DOT has a unifying thematic conceit – an exploration of the fact that all we are, all we know and millennia of human history, art and culture have taken place on this tiny dot of a planet adrift in a mind‑bogglingly vast universe. While not an entirely original idea, the band approach it in a number of ways, from the personal/individual stance of Higher Ground to the more global/metaphysical bent of the title track. This is quality stuff indeed, and easily withstands comparisons to Karmakanic’s previous outings. It suggests even greater things are possible if Reingold can keep this line-up together.

Gary has contributed reviews and news features for Prog Magazine for over a decade now. A fan of prog and heavy rock since childhood, his main areas of interest are classic and symphonic prog, prog-metal and modern acts bringing in fresh influences to the genre. He has a professional background in youth and community work, he teaches drum kit in schools and is a working musician. Gary was the drummer in semi-legendary NWOBHM band Praying Mantis for a couple of years and has been a member of indie-prog-pop-art-rock combo The Mighty Handful for more than twenty years. He loves cats and skiing, and has a Blue Peter badge.