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Karnataka - Strange Behaviour

Karnataka - Strange BehaviourIt's hard to believe that Karnataka have only been in existence for six or seven years, such is their popularity.  And shame on me that it is only now that I have taken time to properly listen to their music.  It's not as though I was not aware of the band having read the praise heaped upon them by the Classic Rock Society and others.  Members of my family had long since urged me to 'check them out', reiterated by our own Chris White in recent weeks.  I could trot out all the usual excuses but it all boils down to time and workload so unless a CD is thrust upon me these days...  Well, the guys at the Karnataka Office did just that.

Strange Behaviour was recorded on the band's 2003 tour and is their first live album.  With three studio albums (and two live DVDs) under their belt, Karnataka have a stack of material to draw on when performing live and judging by this double CD, which has a total running time of over two hours, it is all good stuff.

It is a pretty safe bet that most of you reading this will have heard Karnataka  if just a track or two, so you will know that they hold their own style and sound.  Female vocals x 2, keyboards, guitars, percussion, flute and shawm (the forerunner to the modern oboe) prevail in compositions that encompass rock, prog and a touch of Celtic folk.  If The Corrs tried a bit harder they could, perhaps, compete for the Karnataka fan base, but a closer similarity, and the one that instantly springs to my mind, is Iona, particularly on These Dreams Are Over (one of the two new tracks) and The Storm.  The vocals are a joy and very 'feminine' along Sally Oldfield lines (or you can pick from Joanna Hogg, Annie Haslam, Julianne Reagan for that matter) and accompanying instrumentals sensitively arranged, allowing for guitar breakaways between verses. 

The track Dreamer will be one of the more popular tracks for longstanding fans of the band but personal favourites have to be Everything Must Change and Talk To Me (the other new track), both of which are probably down to memories of Renaissance in my youth.

Haunting melodies and emotive sensitivity are ever present in the music (just listen to Heart Of Stone), but so too are oodles of power.

We might categorise Karnataka as progressive rock but like Mostly Autumn and Porcupine Tree, they have a far wider appeal, thus their successes to date.  This recording is so good it makes for an excellent starting point for all newcomers to Karnataka.  Just ensure you have space on the shelves for their back catalogue too.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Karnataka

 

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