Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
It’s another German guitar band, another trio, and more instrumentals. The popularity of this configuration, particularly with European bands, isn’t difficult to understand. It’s an indelible combination in the public consciousness, cuts down on costs across the board, and provides a live experience entirely different from larger musical outfits. My Sleeping Karma’s new album from Napalm Records, Moksha, isn’t cookie cutter guitar rock with a groove. Power trios have an uphill climb in training listeners, new and old alike, to not associate them with legendary bands who defined the approach. My Sleeping Karma, however, have impressively mixed the relaxed, airy confidence of psychedelia and progressive rock with pyrotechnic riffing.
“Prithvi”, the album opener, embodies many of its best virtues. It has extended musical range without ever over-indulging its running time and the arrangement’s careful canvasing leaves a lot of room for the instruments to breathe. There’s nothing cluttered here and nary a sliver of daylight seen. The band weaves their parts with seamless pacing attributable to their experience working together and the songwriting’s careful orchestration to avoid any musical lulls. It develops slowly, but dramatically. The first of five such “Interludes” is a largely ambient piece, but when the sonic elements cohere into a shape resembling song late in the track, the music takes an uniquely exotic, Eastern flavor. The pensive opening of “Vayu” creates quite an elegiac mood over the track’s first two minutes before the mood dissipates and fire floods the instruments. The song’s second half maintains that same dark hue, but My Sleeping Karma’s thundering rock attack raises things to an almost painful intensity.
“Akasha” spends most of its duration simmering and anchored by a mammoth backbeat threatening to blow open a hole in the song at any moment. However, instead of climaxing with fire and blood, the track implodes and assumes a more expansive, progressive character. “Akasha” shows their impressive stylistic dexterity – they shift easily between light and shade and manipulate those dynamics to their maximum potential. The title track runs close to ten minutes in length and strikes a starker, more dramatic contrast between light and shade than any song on the album.
It’s easy to get a sense of the album’s conceptual leanings when certain details begin emerging. As one example, each of the album’s five interludes have distinct musical characters despite their similarities, but none run longer than two and a half minutes. The band’s progressive muscle flexes best during these brief songs and, as the album nears its conclusion, the guitar takes on an increasingly prominent role supplanting the ambient tendencies in earlier tracks. The guitar work carries “Interlude 4” thanks to its melancholy melodies and how the band gradually coalesces around it.