The German band Karakorum takes influences from a wide range of various progressive rock bands. This can be heard on their debut “Beteigeuze” that reveals a technically competent and tight bunch of musicians. The opening suite titled “Beteigeuze” starts with some Pink Floyd 1970 sound, but transforms quickly into a piece with catchy melodies inspired by early Genesis. Another of the Prog’s greats — Yes — can be heard throughout the tune (and the full album itself), but don’t get me wrong — Karakorum is not just another “tribute” band. It’s well documented here that they are technically on par with many of the genre’s stalwarts, and they definitely show that they can do a lot here.
The improvised jams do indeed feel improvisatory and not forced; the band members enjoy to jam and improvise over the complex drum patterns of Bastian Schuhbeck and bassist Jonas Kollenda. Indeed, guitarists Max Schorghuber and Bernhard Huber and keyboardist Axel Hackner are on fire whenever a song delves deeper into the instrumental territory.
The opening part of “Beteigeuze Pt. 2” is comprised of a beautiful melodic work courtesy of two guitarists, whose love for Gilmour-esque spaced out solos are evident here. The track stabilizes itself with a laidback, jazzy beat with clean guitar work. Fender Rhodes electrifies it a step further, with guitars stepping almost in a fuzzy vibe. Hackner’s Organ near the middle of the song is refreshing and gives the tune a different color; that part of the song also brings another “guitar solos” majesty courtesy of Schorghuber and Huber.
“Beteigeuze Pt. 3” is the lengthiest jam on the record, clocking at almost 25 minutes, and as you can guess this piece summarises everything about this great quintet. As it’s the case with the prog epics, it takes some time for the song to set the tone and the mood, but once it does “Beteigeuze Pt. 3” is an ultimate prog epic. And this may sound very pretentions, but this suite is “shoulder-to-shoulder” with some cult, and better known epics the prog genre saw over the course of time. The song has it all; a very spacey organ and guitar and also includes a slightly Pink Floyd sounding vocal part. It also has its pop moment, and a jammed-out psychedelic jazz part that will “break” even the strongest die-hard prog fans.
With all different influences, you could perhaps say Karakorum lacks some focus on this album, but you will be wrong. Songwriting here is good and the musicianship is more than solid, what makes Karakorum one of bands to look for in the coming years. This music is made to be played live, and only then it has space to breathe. Keep this band under your radar!