Tag Archives: Karnataka

Karnataka announce 2016 tour

Karnataka have announced an extensive tour across April, May and June covering much of the UK as well as dates in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy, promoting their highly-aclaimed album “Secrets of Angels”.

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Have The Guardian just rigged their readers’ poll?

Disgraceful behaviour by The Guardian for The best albums of 2015 – readers’ picks 

We are in accord! For the first time any of us can recall, Guardian readers and Guardian writers had the same two favourite albums of the year, in the same order. This year, in a rare moment of rigour, we decided to exclude obvious attempts to game the system – so, Tinker’s Mitten (“like a beefier Flying Pickets”, one reader suggested, enticingly), Jodie Marie and Karnataka, we’re sorry; but next time you suspect your admirers might be voting for you en masse in a poll, tell them not to all vote at the same time (we record exactly when each vote is cast, for exactly this reason). Had they only spread their votes out a little more, all might well have featured in our top five.

So The Guardian admit to rigging the ballot, and the results then just happen to validate the boring consensus picks of the paper’s own critics.

Sorry, Guardian, but this stinks to high heaven.

If you run a poll with a public ballot on the internet with a very low barrier to entry, you surrender your riight to gatekeep the results, and accept the risk that outsiders might come and gatecrash your party. This happened last year when veteran punk satirists Half Man Half Biscuit was voted readers’ album of the year. The general consensus at the time was “Good on them. Anyone else could have done the same”.

What’s different this year, aside from Karnataka not being sufficiently fashionable for the gatekeepers? Running a ballot, then changing the rules when you get a result you don”t like really is out of order.

The irony is that had they not excluded Jodie Marie and Karnataka, they wouldn’t have have ended up with an all-male top five.  So much for the diversity The Guardian prides itself in.

A couple of minutes Googling reveals that there is no such band as “Tinker’s Mitten”. This might be because The Guardian got their name wrong, or it might be that The Guardian got pranked with votes for a fake band.  But Karnataka and Jodie Marie are very real. Were they just accidental collateral damage?

At this point the best thing The Guardian can do is admit that they screwed up, and republish a top ten (not a top five) with both Karnataka and Jodie Marie reinstated.

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2015 Albums of the Year – Part Four

Into the top five, with only the Album of the Year to go. Two or three of these albums could easily been the album of the year themselves. Again, they’re not in any order, consider them all equal 2nd.

Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud

Amorphis Under the Red CloudWhat is it about Scandinavia and metal? A disproportionate number of the most imaginative and innovative metal of recent years has come from Sweden, Norway and especially Finland. Amorphis hail from the last of those nations, and have delivered a quite remarkable record which cannot be pigeonholed in any of metal’s narrow subgenres. There are moments of death metal, folk metal and gothic rock, and the occasional nod to 70s classic rock. It can be piledrivingly heavy at times, but always hugely melodic, with melodies that owe as much to the twin guitars as the vocals. Like the best metal bands they demonstrates superb use of dynamics. Many songs combine clear vocals with death growls, often using one style on the verse and the other on the chorus. As a contemporary metal album this record is absolutely state of the art.

Karnataka – Secrets of Angels

Karnataka - Secrets of AngelsKarnataka’s fifth studio album is a very different beast from 2007′s “The Gathering Light”, as much so as that album was from “Delicate Flame of Desire”. But the three were the products of three very different bands. The newest incarnation of Karnataka with Hayley Griffiths on vocals and Cagri Tozluoglu on keys have come up with a huge-sounding record with more than a hint of European symphonic metal about it, with recurring lyrical themes of adultery and betrayal. The early part of the album is filled with hook-laden potential singles. Then it closes with the twenty-minute title track which combines evocative celtic soundscapes with massive symphonic rock crescendos and features a guest appearance from Troy Donockley. With this record Karnataka managed to take on the likes of Nightwish and beat them at their own game, which is no mean achievement.

Chantel McGregor – Lose Control

Chantel McGregor - Lose ControlIt been four years since the Yorkshire guitarist and singer-songwriter released her début album, but the follow-up not only proved to be well worth the wait, but is a very different sort of record. With a “Southern Gothic” theme it’s heavier, darker and far more song-focussed, with elements of grunge and progressive rock. There’s more emphasis on memorable riffs than on extended guitar wig-outs; she takes a less-is-more approach to soloing. Hard rockers alternate with delicate acoustic numbers, and the album closes with the ambitious kaleidoscopic epic “Walk on Land”.

Bruce Soord

Bruce Soord Solo AlbumThe self-titled solo album by the Pineapple Thief mainman is a thing of beauty, with echoes of Guy Garvey, recent Anathema and Steven Wilson at his less bombastic. It’s an album of soaring atmospheric soundscapes, often semi-acoustic but always hugely melodic, with arrangements varying from acoustic minimalism to richly layered. It takes one unexpected sharp left turn early on with the disco-funk of “The Odds”, but the gorgeously dreamy “Born in Delusion” and “Familiar Patterns” are far more representative of the album. Quite different in mood to The Pineapple Thief, but a very enjoyable record.

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Karnataka, 229 The Venue in London

Karnataka at the 229 club

As part of the promotion for the single “‘Because of You”, Karnataka played a free showcase gig at 229 The Venue in central London. Though the purpose of the gig was really to gather media attention (I’m told there were a number of tastemakers from the BBC present), there was a good turnout of dedicated fans, and the small venue was well-filled.

Crowded onto a tiny stage, they played two sets, the first made up of six shorter numbers from “Secrets of Angels” culminating in the Nightwishesque new single. The second set featured the lengthy epic title track along with two older numbers, “Delicate Flame of Desire” and “Your World”.

Though they had to cut the set slightly short and skip the planned encore because Hayley’s voice was giving out by the end, it was still a highly enjoyable show, and the first half in particular had a lot of  energy.

This is a band whose album has gone beyond giving many European symphonic metal bands a run for their money, and all comes over very powerfully live. Let’s hope they made as good an impression on any tastemakers present as they did with their dedicated fans, and we get to see them on far bigger stages.

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Karnataka, Bilston Robin 2

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It’s been more than two years since Karnataka last toured the UK. Fronted by their third lead singer, former Riverdance singer Hayley Griffiths, the new-look Karnataka made a strong impression back in 2012. Extensive touring spawned the DVD “New Light”. Since then they’ve have spent most of the past couple of years in the studio recording a new album. But despite the length of time they’ve been away, they pulled an appreciable crowd for a Sunday Night on the fourth date of the “Secrets of Angels” tour.

The band the stage with a bang, opening the brand new “Road to Cairo”, a driving hard rock number number some people may have recognised since it appeared on the cover disk of Prog magazine ahead of the album release. Although Hayley promised they’d be playing the new album in full, for the first set the emphasis was on well-known favourites; a powerful “Talk To Me”, “The Right Time”, and an impressively rocked-up take on “Delicate Flame of Desire”, featuring some evocative guitar work from Enrico Pinna. A drum-heavy reworked intro heralded the lengthy “The Gathering Light” to bring us to the interval.

If the first set focussed on the familiar, the second half was almost entirely new, and this was where Hayley Griffiths really came into her own with material written to take full advantage of the remarkable power and range of her voice, as demonstrated by the operatic high notes of “Poison Ivy”. It was all very dramatic and dynamic, closer to the symphonic metal of bands like Nightwish than the ethereal sounds of their early days. They finished with the epic-length title track parts of which saw a return to the celtic atmospheric side of their music.

They encored with the lighters-in-the-air ballad “Feels Like Home”, with an a cappella ending, and it was all over, leaving you wishing for more.

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Karnataka were a great live band back in 2012, but this performance saw them raise their game to another level. Hayley Griffiths’ dramatic stage presence and stagecraft makes her the obvious visual focus of the band, and she’s more confident now in the role of rock frontwoman, even if her song introductions occasionally sounded a little stilted. Enrico Pinna has to be one of the most talented guitarists in any band of this level; reeling off magnificent cascading solos. And new drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi made a very strong impression; with his mop of hair and the storm he kicked up behind the kit he sometimes seemed to be channelling Animal from the Muppets.

Karnataka have gone through a lot of changes over the years; bassist and composer Ian Jones is the sole constant factor, and Enrico Pinna is the only other remaining member from the band that recorded their previous studio album “The Gathering Light”. But the way they reinterpret older material rather than attempt to faithfully recreate the originals should have long dispelled the idea that they’re any kind of glorified tribute band, and the emphasis on new material on this tour shows a band looking to the future rather than the past. While there were still one or two who preferred earlier versions of the band, finding this incarnation too bombastic, the newer harder-rocking Karnataka won over the vast majority of the crowd in Bilston.

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Secrets of Angels Trailer

Karnataka have released a trailer for their new album “Secrets of Angels”. Pre-orders should ship in early March.

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Karnataka announce new album and tour

Karnataka - Secrets of AngelsAfter spending the whole of 2014 in the studio recording, Karnataka are now taking pre-orders for their fifth studio album Secrets Of Angels, released in February. It’s the first studio album to feature Hayley Griffiths on lead vocals, and the eight songs include the epic 21 minute title track.

It features guest musicians Troy Donockley from Nightwish on Uilleann pipes and low whistles, Irish harpist Seána Davey, Rachel van der Tang on cello and Clive Howard on viola from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The band are on tour from the end of February to the beginning of May, taking in much of the UK in the process.

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2012 – A few more records of note

I decided to restrict my best-of-2012 list to full-length studio albums of new material with a 2012 retail release date. But there are a few great records that fall outside that definition, and would be difficult to place in any kind of ranking. But they’re all too good not to give a mention, so here they are.

The Heather Findlay BandSongs From The Old Kitchen

A delightful album of acoustic reworkings of Heather’s songs from Mostly Autumn, Odin Dragonfly and more recent solo work, with the band featuring the now-departed Dave Kilminster and Steve Vantsis. The organic chilled-out arrangements are a very good match for the natural warmth of her voice, making this perhaps the best record she’s made since going solo.

KarnatakaNew Light, Live in Concert

Live album (also an excellent DVD) capturing the band on their first tour with new vocalist Hayley Griffiths, fronting the short-lived six-piece lineup with multi-instrumentalist Colin Mold, whose violin playing enhanced the Celtic side of their music. Aside from Hayley’s imaginative re-interpretation of old favourites, this record is also a showcase for Enrico Pinna’s phenomenal guitar playing.

Crimson Sky - DawnCrimson SkyDawn

Excellent four-track EP from the new lineup of Crimson Sky with Jane Setter and Moray McDonald, with two brand new songs and two reworked older numbers. As with their previous work, it’s an intriguing blend of progressive rock and 80s-style new-wave, and benefits from a far more polished production than earlier recordings.

Twelfth Night Live and Let Live - Album CoverTwelfth NightLive and Let Live

The classic and long out-of-print single LP-length album from the seminal 80s neo-proggers, reissued and expanded into a two-hour double-CD capturing the entire two-hour show, which must have been a painstaking labour-of-love to put together.

Rob CottinghamCaptain Blue

One of those records where the pre-orders shipped in December, although the retail release isn’t until the new year There will be a full review of this forthcoming, but let’s just say this is a good one. Will it make the 2013 end-of-year list? Time will tell on that…

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Karnataka and Winter in Eden, Leamington Assembly

Karnataka’s extensive Autumn/Winter 2012 tour came to the magnificent Leamington Assembly on the 17th November.

Wiinter in Eden at The Assembly in Leamington Spa

Winter in Eden, fronted by Vicky Johnson (above) made a very complementary support act,and helped boost the crowd by bringing along a lot of their own fans. A British take on the European symphonic metal genre, they were one of the highlights of the first day of the Cambridge Rock Festival back in August. This support set carried on where they left off then, and made a very strong impression.

Wiinter in Eden at The Assembly in Leamington Spa

Unlike some bands of their ilk they don’t rely on choirs and orchestras that can’t be produced live without backing tapes. Steve Johnson’s keys and Sam Cull superb fluid guitar give them all the instrumental depth the music needs.

Karnataka at The Assembly, Leamington

The latest incarnation of Karnataka got off to a strong start when they toured in the spring, and their recent “New Light” DVD is a good document of that tour. Now down to a basic five-piece minus multi-instrumentalist Colin Mold, their sound has become rawer and rockier. Lead singer Hayley Griffiths has grown far more in to the role of frontwoman for a rock band, getting inside the songs far more than she did in the spring.

Karnataka at The Assembly, Leamington

While most of the material naturally still dates to the Rachel Jones and Lisa Fury versions of the band, the set did include some brand new songs, at least one of which wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Winter in Eden’s set.

Karnataka at The Assembly, Leamington

One of the big attractions of Karnataka’s music is still Enrico Pinna’s fantastic guitar playing, with the extended workout on the epic “Forsaken” a particular highlight.

Karnataka play one final show in 2012 at The Scala in London, again with Winter in Eden as the support. Tickets available online here.

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Karnataka – The New Light DVD

A trailer for Karnataka’s new live DVD, filmed at The Met Theatre in Bury earlier this year. It’s available now from www.karnataka.org.uk. The band are currently embarking on an extensive tour throughout the UK. They’re well worth seeing live.

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