Karmakanic - Wheel Of Life

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Regain Records
Catalog Number: RR0405-045
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:15:00

To say it would be as good as the debut would be saying a lot.

The first one offered a variety of styles. It used soundtrack samples, tremendous melodies, endearing lyrics, and outstanding bass playing. The title track was very ambitious with songwriting that reaches an all-time high. The album as a whole made ultra-high marks. The fact the project was a solo effort by a bass player made the stellar quality of the end product nothing short of a mind-bender. After enjoying the main course with the conceptual opening leading into the killer title track, there were many desserts to follow.

Is Wheel Of Life as good as the first? To answer the million-dollar question, it is undoubtedly as good if not better.

There is no question that Jonas Reingold can lay down the heavy licks. This is seen in other projects such as Opus Atlantica, Time Requiem, and Richard Andersson's Space Odyssey. A touch of this intensity made it into the debut album, which provided a bridge between both ends of the spectrum. While some encouraged melding these styles, many loyal followers from The Flower Kings' camp were not all that keen on the metal influences.

On Karmakanic's second time out, the album sounds A LOT more progressive than before. Something tells me that this will be much to the liking of The Flower Kings' fans. It will be less of a jump for them than it had been to the first album. Actually, it will seem more like a step closer to home base and may even appeal most to Transatlantic fans.

The album continues with the signature sound developed in the debut while still managing to journey into brand-new territory. The album is innovative in its own way and it is nothing short of amazing. This has become an instant favorite of mine. It is one of the best albums I've ever encountered and gets better with every spin. After each track I cannot decide if I want to hear the last one again or move onto the next. It creates a serious fork in the road because all paths seem to lead to the promise land.

The highlights are spread evenly throughout the album. Same as the first, there is a focus on quality over quantity. Every inch of every song is done to perfection. Vocalists trade off. Goran Edman sings superb. There are some female voices too. In one case there is even a baby cooing. The noodling is there at times, but stops long before it becomes redundant.

The epic pieces are like an outdoor hike with a cleverly stowed package of trail mix. A handful of this snack every now and then brings an assortment of healthy goodness. It is chock full of raw energy and roasted flavor. Each nibble gives you that extra kick and helps pass the time through the extended treks. These epics will take you far into the landscape.

The shorter pieces, on the other hand, nicely offset the longer ones. They are like a catnap under the open sky with the breeze and sun on your face. These pieces keep the music fresh, changing the pace and direction. The transitions flow smoothly as the peaceful sounds of nature awaken you from this brief slumber. The cool air and warm rays beckon you to embark upon the gorgeous day that has blossomed.

There is no effort needed to keep your mind alert for what comes next. A sense of balance is maintained between the songs. At ease with your surroundings, every step takes you further along while drifting in and out of consciousness. Each exploit throughout Wheel Of Life is no less than a surreal experience.

Several attempts may be needed to fully absorb the meaning behind the thoughtful words and emotional instrumentals. The music has many complexities and layers that are easy to miss on the first go around. There are many hidden instances of heavenly delight that will send shivers up the spine when found. Once the special moments sink in, the experience is sheer ecstasy. While every song has some of this magic, the tracks that most prominently conceal their charm are "At The Speed Of Light" and "Where The Earth Meets The Sky." These are bona fide works of genius.

These impressions are made with each rotation of the wheel:

Track1: "Masterplan Pt. 1" - It looks and feels like a symphonic epic from The Flower Kings. With almost all members from The Flower Kings present there is no reason to get your ears checked. This is the real deal even if it branded under another name. Even with the similarities to The Flower Kings, the song still manages to groove in its own way and makes great strides. If you like the vocals by Goran, you may want to check out his latest project Crossfade. However, be forewarned. That project comes dangerously close to the mainstream. While both share the same voice, this song finds itself in a distant orbit from what might be considered commercial. In any case, these are great leaders coming together and demonstrating a brainstorm of ideas. Everyone has their say or makes their mark before it's done. There are truly wonderful solos from all players involved.

Track 2: "Alex In Paradise" - This is spacey and psychedelic. Starting with baby talk from Jonas' son Alex, the remainder is a twirling mobile playing soothing lullabies. It comes off a lot like something you'd expect from Yes. This is the most comprehensible song on the album. While this song might grab a listener the quickest, deeper feelings are discovered upon further inspection. If looking for an example of a proud parent, there is no better representative.

Track 3: "At The Speed Of Light" - Continuing along on the stroll, this cut has some breathtaking scenery to take in. After two joyous tracks, the warm fuzziness keeps coming like flakey light-as-a-feather seeds from the whimper willows in spring. This whirrs along like the opening sequence from "The Truth Will Set You Free" off The Flower Kings' Unfold The Future album. Some brilliant bits are manufactured on bass and skillfully overdubbed on top of one another.

Track 4: "Do You Tango?" - This is significantly unlike the others. It is whimsical and witty. The song starts and ends with a female computer voice asking the question posed in its title. There is even a spot where she gives a little dance instruction. The music seems to shift forward and back. It is actually moves a lot like a tango. The partnership trades off between the bass, guitars, and keys.

Track 5: "Where Earth Meets Sky" - This has the feel of the earlier track "At The Speed Of Light." The bass playing and singing reach phenomenal levels. For an epic this is highly organized. The music touches upon a romantic side and shows jubilation in the joys of the world. Nothing could be wrong at this time and place. Isolated from the ills in the world, this is a utopia frozen in time. This is an extremely enjoyable piece.

Track 6: "Hindby" - Taking a short intermission again from the vibrant tones, this one uses a less dreamy approach. Krister Jonzon washes over the exterior with a blues-inspired guitar and flaunts a carefree disposition.

Track 7: "Wheel Of Life" - This is another symphonic masterpiece. While it is hard to choose the pinnacle of the album, this might be the place. It is an enchanting piece. It is no wonder the entire collection is filed under this name. There is excellent interplay between all the elements. There is even a flute provided by Helge Albin whose methods work well with this style of music. Helge contributes a myriad of attractive tints. His playing is fantastic. The chorus sounds great. This is fusion at its best.

Track 8: "Masterplan Pt. 2" - The similarities to the opening track are subtle. While this song is not entirely a reprise, it still makes an appropriate end to the album. Some ideas from the title track resurface as well. Goran's voice is clean and crisp in this piece. He sings in a relaxed manner without a care in the world. Krister's guitar takes us riding off into the sunset. Like the debut's final song, this one leaves us on the proper note, savoring the climax and asking for another round. When the wheel completes its revolution, the listener will be compelled to continue back to the beginning and start all over again (and again and again and again and so forth).

Masterplan Pt: 1 (14:39) / Alex In Paradise (5:09) / At The Speed Of Light (6:28) / Do U Tango (7:44) / Where Earth Meets The Sky (12:59) / Hindby (4:58) / Wheel Of Life (8:28) / Masterplan Pt: 2 (5:10)

Jonas Reingold - electric and fretless basses, keyboards
G?ran Edman - vocals
Zoltan Csorsz - drums
Krister Jonzon - electric and acoustic guitar


Richard Anderson - keyboards (1)
Roine Stolt - guitar (7, 8)
Tomas Bodin - Hammond organ (3, 5)
Hans Bruniusson - percussion (1)
Helen Melin - percussion (2, 5, 7)
Sal Dibba - congas, yembe (5)
Helge Albin - flute (7)
Jakob Karlzon - piano, keyboards (5)
Ola Hed?n - vocals (7)
Inger Ohl?n - vocals (5)
Alex Reingold - speech (2)

Entering The Spectra (2002)
Wheel Of Life (2004)
Who's The Boss In The Factory (2008)
The Power Of Two (w/Agents Of Mercy) (2010)
In A Perfect World (2011)
Live In The USA (2014)
Dot (2016)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: May 16th 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website: reingoldrecords.se
Hits: 1224
Language: english


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