Review – Karmamoi – Strings From The Edge Of Sound

In 2008, inspired by old and new progressive rock music, drummer and composer Daniele Giovannoni created Karmamoi , giving life to a musical project that was able to express his idea of music, inspired by old and new progressive rock music. Their unique sound and their continued research about musical form make them one of the most interesting bands in the Italian Prog-rock scene. The band members are Daniele (drums, keyboards and backing vocals), Valerio Sgargi (vocals, backing vocals and keyboards), Alex Massari (guitars) and Alessandro Cefalì (bass).

Fast forward to 2023 and the band have released their sixth studio album, ‘Strings From The Edge Of Sound’. This new release contains four brand new songs plus five songs from the previous albums rearranged and revisited for orchestra that giving them a new powerful sound, and a new vision of Karmamoi’s music.

Karmamoi have never really crossed my path before, though I have heard of the band and people I respect have given them very positive reviews, so when I got the opportunity to listen to this new release, I thought it would be in my interest to check it out. Boy, am I glad I did! This album is a pure joy to listen to, chock full of glorious melodic progressive rock with a highly polished sheen and with pure emotion right to the core.

Key to this, in my opinion, are the absolutely sublime vocals of Valerio Sgargi, who has the voice of an angel and gives what are already incredibly immersive and utterly theatrical songs the final polish that makes them even better. I’ve also not heard the original versions of the orchestrated songs on this album but, Daniele Giovannoni please take a bow, to create these songs is a work of genius, they are lush, spacious and simply magnificent. That should not detract from the four new tracks though, they are prime progressive rock at its finest.

Opener Black Hole Era is one of the new songs and gets things of to a mighty fine start with Alex Massari’s delicate guitar the foil to Valerio’s earnest vocal. It’s a gentle and low key start as the string like keyboards give an ethereal feel to the music. The energy builds as the music and vocals take on a more enlivened tone and Daniele’s stylish drums drive things along. This is intelligent songwriting and excellent musicianship woking perfectly together to give the songs life and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by it. As we come towards the end of the track everything ramps up a couple of levels and we are treated to a superb guitar solo from Alex, full of emotion and passion, what a way to start an album! Nashira is the first of the reimagined, orchestrated versions and comes from the band’s third album, ‘Silence Between Sounds’, released in 2016. It is almost ballad-like in its opening, a gentle piano note leads in to the elegant, wistful strings to give a warm nostalgic feel to the song, Valerio, once again, delivers a superb vocal before the song takes on a disturbing edge and things get all mysterious with the drums and Alessandro Cefalì’s dynamic bass giving an ominous feel. The track ebbs and flows between the gentle and the agitated and shows its true progressive nature, very clever and hypnotic in delivery. Take Me Home is from 2018’s ‘The Day Is Done’ and lends itself to the orchestrations perfectly. It’s a slow burning piece of music with cinematic qualities that has you holding your breath in anticipation. The vocals are more laid back and give the music room to move and envelop the listener. It’s like the soundtrack to one of those mysterious independent films in which you have no clue what is going on but they’re really enjoyable in a cool and enigmatic kind of way.

Tell Me is the second new song on the album and opens with an earnest vocal from Valerio over Alex’s chiming guitar, it’s all very contemplative and wishful in feeling and brings a lightness and a feeling of calm to your soul. The music is reflective and dreamlike as it washes over you and the little stabs of guitar are ingenious among the expansive soundscape and when Alex breaks into his soaring solo, it is just majestic. Adding the orchestration to Room 101, taken from 2021’s album of the same name, takes the word enigmatic to new heights, to put it simply, it is melodic progressive rock at it’s absolute finest and shows this impressive band are truly masters of their art. It rises and falls with an impish step and has an almost art-rock feel to it. Intelligence and perception abound in every word and every note and the musicianship is just amazing, the juxtaposition between the pomp and circumstance of the band and the elegance of the orchestra is totally inspired. I Will Come takes progressive rock to a dimly lit lounge where a singer/songwriter and his band are delivering a performance with decades of belief behind it. The vocals bleed emotion and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and the piano is just heavenly and exalted. You may shed a tear and there’s nothing embarrassing in that, it’s just how the music makes you feel and they’ll be tears of joy.

Your Name also come’s from 2018’s ‘The Day Is Done’ and has a really dynamic feel as it dances into your imagination, the orchestra this time adding to the complex and compelling feel. There’s almost a prog-pop sensibility to the music and I could really see this a theme from a Bond movie, it has that dynamism and feeling of exhilaration. Upbeat and fast paced, it’s a real highlight and one where everyone seems to be having fun. The last of the orchestrated versions is of Zealous Man, also from 2021’s ‘Room 101’, and this song has that glorious feel of musical theatre, I think it’s the wonderful vocals added to the brilliant orchestrations that make it like that. I find these versions all to be uplifting and ever so elegant in their composure and delivery and, perhaps, this song is the best of the lot. The track exudes power, nobility and a rock solid sensibility and the musical intricacies on show are just extraordinary, the violin solo is worth the price of entry on its own! The album closes with the short title track Strings From The Edge Of Sound, just under two minutes of music that seems to live right inside your head. The persistent tone and vocals almost hypnotic as this mesmeric piece of music captivates and tantalises leaving you in a state of complete calm. 

With ‘Strings From The Edge Of Sound‘ Karmamoi deliver music that feels like it has a life of its own and music that will live with you for a very long time. It is an utterly captivating musical journey and experience that will hold you in its thrall for all of its wonderful sixty-eight minute running time. One of the releases of 2023 and one I advise you to listen to as soon as you can.

Released 1st September, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:


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