Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: Karma Vision - Pizza Power (Whatever Forever, 2011)


Summer is here. If the scorching sun or the high temperatures were not enough of an argument to convince you, the Lawrence, Kansas based pop combo Karma Vision are more than eager to make sure you notice that it’s the vacation time and enjoy it to the max with their infectiously catchy psych pop/rock.
While the somewhat cliché name might bring to mind the images of deep shamanic hippie improvisation or analog synth New Age invocations, the guys from Karma Vision are all about FUN. The opening “Rabbit Hole” seems to a tailor-made indie world summer hit, down to the handclaps and “la-la-la” choirs. Karma Vision completes the set with a saxophone solo. The saxophone appears on almost all tracks, often getting in front and shaping the mood of the whole track, like on the mischievous “Russian Chanting”, in which, together with a piano and the drums it creates a seedy, bombast atmosphere. If you’re a fan of the movie director Wes Anderson, you can’t help but imagine a slowed-down scene from one of his movies when listening to this track. So vintage, so hip.
It seems that Karma Vision were influenced by Animal Collective in the vocal territory. The whimsical, wailing vocals on “Teeter Totter” sound so similar to Panda Bear and Avey Tare that you start thinking the band actually invited them to record vocals for that track. Similarly, “Fuzzle Muzzle” sounds like an AnCo album outtake, with less weird and more straight-up rock. There are more influences audible throughout the entire album, though, like the balladic VU & Nico worship “Price Meltdown”, or the darker and slower “Cone Doo Womp” channeling Religious Knives with its distorted vocals, droning guitars and organ parts.
Karma Vision is a band of great songwriting and musical skills, who employ a staggering number of instruments into their music. The addition of a saxophone to the standard rock instrumentarium is a fresh, bold move. Which works!

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