(All Album Reviews by Lieto)
Dominique Bloudin: Basses
Thomas Broudeur: Drums, Triangles, shakers, tambourines, gongs, Tamba, Hand Claps, Kalimer, Shekere, Bells, Glockenspiel
Simon L’Esperance: Electric and acoustic guitars, Additional synths and programming, reyongs, strings Arrangement on “Incident”
Mingan Sauriol: Grand Piano, Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes, Synths, Strings arrangement on “Combustion”
Karcius is a four-piece form Canada. I would describe their music as Jazz rock/fusion, with a symphonic prog edge. There is also elements of space-rock and hard rock etched in for good measure. The overall sound is a loose, jammy feel. The musicians in this band really listen to each other and work quite well with each other. Each player proves to be very skilled on his respective instruments.
The album starts off with a 30 minute suite, entitled “Elements”. The first movement of this piece starts off with a very spacey vibe, then a symphonic section emerges with some nice chords and good vibe, then a distorted guitar/piano main riff, then a Jazzy section, followed by another spacey section. The second movement starts off in a similar fashion to the first, with a throbbing bass line, but it evolves into a reggae feel, with some more Gilmour-inspired spacey-ness. A cool piano solo comes next, with some great bass/drum work behind it, and the piano player utilizes a lot of Block-chords, with great success. A tie in section, followed by a guitar solo is next. Again, the rhythm section lays down some wonderful work here! Then, the hard rock riff from the first movement is repeated, followed by a porgy section, then a speed metal segment closes the movement (with some nice double bass pedal work!). The final movement starts off very ambient, with interjections of crunchy guitar, bass, and drums, which is very awesome. Then an acoustic guitar/piano section is layered over the ambiance laid down in the beginning. A bluesy guitar solo then comes in, backed by a cool, relaxed bass line. Another spacey section follows suite. Then, a really great proggy/Jazzy section comes in. The theme riff is restated again, and the piece closes in a similar way in which it began. Overall, this is a very good epic.
”Incident” is a Jazzier track than the previous one, and is also a highlight. This track is a Spanish inspired track, and there is even Spanish guitar present (the solo is on one). There is also a string section present, and they add a great sound to the band. They fit right into this band, and I think they should become a mainstay; it’s really awesome to hear strings in a Jazzy-rock group. Excellent!
”Levant: is a beautiful piano interlude. “Purple King” is a darker piece than the rest of the album. There’s a metal section that really kicks ass!! This tune is a nice contrast form the previous tunes, and would certainly not be out of place on any prog-metal album. There’s even some low-piano work that reminds me of Symphony X. “Racines” closes the album with a more electronic, indie-style than the previous tunes. But, it is still Jazzy.
One thing I really like about this band is the use of various sounds and colors. From a string section to thrashing metal, to ambient sounds, this band displays a mastery of their craft. Each composition never ceases to lose my interest. Each song displays different musical approaches and styles, and keeps this album fresh. Each musician displays mastery on their instruments, and the piano and guitar players never cease to churn out great solos, filled with wonderful ideas. The drums and bass are awesome. They always build the perfect foundation for the tunes to grow, and keep the music at a very loose feeling. Extra kudos goes to the bass player, whose lines are always PERFECT for the moment.
Overall, this is an excellent release, and there’s not a bad tune on here. Now I have to get the rest of this band’s catalogue. Great stuff! Highly recommended, especially to those who love jazzier prog.
(All Album Reviews by avestin)
Karcius from Quebec, Canada have so far released 3 instrumental albums, all of them quite eclectic with regards to the styles played in the various pieces the comprise them. With Episodes, I hear a band that has developed, and for lack of a better word, matured; they are more delicate and precise in their way of delivering their instrumental pieces, more refined than before. They are still as varied as before, conjuring up different styles and playing in a dynamic fashion. In their first release in 2004, Sphere, which I very much love, they had a rawer approach and it was an eclectic affair that toyed with catchy tunes, heavy parts mingled with jazzy elements and cheerful melodies. Going forward to 2008 and their release Episodes, this is still a diverse offering, but one that has a refined and distilled sound of the band, with an underlying link between all the pieces; the progressive rock and fusion of the three-part main piece, "Elements" and the Spanish flavoured composition "Incident" to the mellow blues/reggae/jam tune "Racines". The refined sound owes to the song arrangements and to the musicianship. There is fabulous playing by all musicians here; listen to the bass licks and drumming on Elements II: Sol; to the guitar and piano on almost each piece. It's a feast to the ears.
"Elements" alone is a reason to get this album. Fading in it starts delicately with a relaxed yet steady, particular drumming rhythm (heard more in the back of the mix) and a soothing bass line, soon joined by the piano and then guitar, welcoming us into this beautiful palace of sounds that awaits us. A wonderful Pink-Floydian guitar solo proceeds as the full band engages their playing. From here on is a 30 minutes of delightful rich sounding music that is divided into 3 parts (but is continuous). There are climaxes and emotional peaks, heavy parts at times even aggressive (around minute 5:30 in "Submersion", the first part and at the beginning of part 3: "Combustion"), quieter parts, jazzy interludes, fusion and rock segments, darker moments, lighter and happier parts and so on. The music in each part revolves around the main theme, playing with it, changing it, maneuvering it and developing it to make it interesting and appealing (and succeed in doing so). The 3 parts themselves dissolve seamlessly into each other and make up a fascinating listen as a whole piece. In "Incident", a fabulous Spanish flavoured theme is presented with violin embellishments here and there. The chorus, if I can call it that, is a splendid powerful part of piano and acoustic guitar together in a swirling movement, going back and forth, creating a magical moment. "Levant" is a short piece serving as transition to the piece "Purple King" as well as repose from the intensity of the music thus far. A mellow piano solo piece composed by the player (Mingan Sauriol), it's a beautiful composition that showcases what I suspect is a classical training. I'd love to hear more from him. "Purple King" start with a cool bass line, giving a mysterious vibe of something that is stirring up and about to reveal itself in its full magnificence. The ambience created here is outstanding, as the guitar licks add to the suspense and later electrifies the air. This is enhanced by the wonderful organ playing that creates a spell-binding atmosphere. This is a great rock piece by the band as the music twirls and weaves itself around the main theme, adding additional elements and layers to it until a peak at about 4:30, where it bursts further more as the lead electric guitar takes full charge of the situation and leads the band, with powerful drumming backing it up and the ever present Hammond organ delivering haunting playing. A highly intense track, no wonder it is followed by the tender and "Racines" with its bluesy/reggae and jam-like approach to close the album. It does speed up about 3 minutes in a fusion-on-acid like style only to go back to the original theme about a minute and a half later.
Karcius present in this album several Episodes, each with a unique theme and style. Much like their previous album, this is an eclectic affair, but it works very well for me and it's a great pleasure to listen to their music. I look forward to their next one.