Karmakanic’s fifth studio album, Dot, is a progressive rock album inspired by recent writings by Carl Sagan. Frontman Jonas Reingold stated that this inspiration stemmed from Sagan’s quote about the picture of the earth that Voyager 1 took in 1990 from the outer areas of our solar system. “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, 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.” – Carl Sagan
The rest Karmakanic’s lineup consists of Göran Edman (Yngwie Malmsteen), Morgan Ågren (Casualties Of Cool, Frank Zappa, Steve Vai), Lalle Larsson (Agents Of Mercy), Andy Tillison (The Tangent), Nils Erikson, Krister Jonsson, Andy Bartosh and Ray Aichinger. Reingold produced and mixed the album.
The intro track ‘Dot’ begins with some static and sound effects, setting up a dark atmosphere before some bells transition into the meat of the album, ‘God the universe and everything else no one really cares about, Pt. I’
The first part of this epic, clocks in at 23:45 and begins with some soft acoustic guitar and vocals, piano, and orchestral backing before the song kicks into gear with some heavier riffs, and intense vocals. The rest of the song is chock full of poignant lyrics and memorable melodies paired with impressive musicianship. It reminds me a bit of the longer Flower Kings songs, which are some of my favorites. This first part leaves us with this lyric “We’re all, yet nothing” a thought provoking note to end on.
The next track ‘Higher Ground’ is the second longest track on the album. The first half is pretty straightforward, but picks up in the second half with some more progressive riffs and solos. I especially like the keyboard solo at 6:45 that has an Egyptian sound to it. The guitar solo that follows it has some great screaming vibrato.
Next up, ‘Steer by the Stars’ is an upbeat song with some soulful vocals and great catchy riffs. The end reminds me a bit of Spock’s Beard with the harmonic acapella. This track was co-written with Reingold’s old buddy and colleague from The Tangent, Andy Tillison.
The second to last track ‘Traveling Minds’ is a more mellow song that starts off with some great bass lines and guitar solos. According to Reingold, this is “a majestic symphonic piece that brings us back to the vibe of the Yes classic ‘And You and I.'” There are also some definite Flower Kings vibed going on. It’s the perfect song to lead us into the final track, part 2 of ‘God the universe and everything else no one really cares about’ to close out the album.
This track is much shorter than part 1, at only 5:57, but acts more as a postlude, reiterating themes from part 1, and building up to a grand conclusion. The album closes with a soft piano that fades out on the last note.
While Reingold may have some competition, with Flower Kings bandmate Roine Stolt’s fantastic release last month with Jon Anderson, ‘Invention of Knowledge’ (which Reingold also plays on), Dot is an album he and his bandmates should be very proud of, as it really showcases their talent which is certainly top notch. Anyone who enjoys Progressive Rock both classic and modern should definitely give this a listen, as the catchy melodies blend perfectly with the complex arrangements.
A press copy of the album was used for this review.
Release date: 2016/7/22
Label: InsideOut Music
1. Dot (01:04)
2. God the universe and everything else no one really cares about – Part I (23:45)
3. Higher Ground (10:10)
4. Steer by the Stars (04:22)
5. Traveling Minds (04:59)
6. God the universe and everything else no one really cares about – Part II (05:57)
Total running time: 50:17
File type listened to: MP3
Bit rate: 192 kbps CBR
Sampling frequency: 44,100 Hz, 2 channels