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Karate - The Bed Is in the Ocean Music Album Reviews

Karate - The Bed Is in the Ocean Music Album Reviews
The latest entry in a vital reissue series from Numero Group lives at the nexus of the Boston jazz-rock band’s strange evolution. Their daring interplay sounds as if the songs are still being constructed as you listen.

From the opening lines, Karate set the scene. “So quiet,” Geoff Farina sings in a determined voice, “I can hear that the refrigerator is on.” Just like that, less than 10 seconds into The Bed Is in the Ocean, you’re right there with him. The room hushes; your attention heightens; things you normally overlook rush into screaming focus. Over the span of the Boston trio’s six studio albums, they transformed from a typical 1990s post-hardcore outfit into something harder to pin down, a rock band guided entirely by emotion and atmosphere. To cap off their brief career, their final recording before disbanding in 2005 was a cover of “A New Jerusalem” by Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis: a patron saint for this type of career-long journey toward silence.

The latest entry in a vital reissue series from Numero Group, 1998’s The Bed Is in the Ocean lives at the nexus of Karate’s strange evolution. Its nine songs are bold and memorable, with lyrics designed for tightly packed crowds to scream along with. It’s the kind of album whose choruses can only be transcribed in all caps: “GOD DON’T MAKE THINGS THAT YOU CAN REARRANGE.” “THERE IS HARD RAIN WHERE I’M WALKING.” “WHO CALLED? WHAT THE HELL DID THEY SAY?” Three records in, Karate had learned to pace these moments so they arrived like knockout punches, each landing harder than the one preceding it.

And yet, once Farina reaches these climaxes—with an excitable, precise delivery that sounds a little like Jason Molina if he’d raised himself on D.C. punk instead of classic country—you’ve only heard part of the story. There is a feeling in these recordings that the compositions are just outlines, and once Farina runs out of words, the band starts kicking into overdrive. You can practically hear his bandmates—drummer Gavin McCarthy and bassist Jeffrey Goddard—contemplate where to go next, how to steer the songs in unfamiliar directions: say, in the heart-tugging post-rock crescendo of “Outside Is the Drama” or the proggy interludes in “There Are Ghosts.”

Part of Karate’s shapeshifting was due to Farina’s voracious habits as a listener and his expanding repertoire as a guitarist. “I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just have an ongoing identity crisis” is how he put it last year. “I just bounce around, and I will never settle down.” Around the time of The Bed Is in the Ocean, Karate began distinguishing themselves from their punk-influenced peers by drawing attention to their jazz bonafides. Farina, a Berklee graduate who currently teaches at DePaul, was proudly defiant about his wide-ranging taste. At a time when Steely Dan’s smooth, sophisticated epics were the antithesis of DIY cool, he wrote music that not only seemed to be influenced by them but also, on a 1999 solo single, openly pledged his love.

Where indie bands like the Sea and Cake built on the muted, springtime breeze of jazz-rock, on The Bed Is in the Ocean, Karate scraped up the grit. Aside from being an excellently recorded album—one that benefits from this type of bare-bones vinyl reissue—the performances feel live and electric, carrying the spark of improvised takes. The roll of McCarthy’s snares throughout “Fatal Strategies” seems to mimic the conspiratorial trill of Farina’s lyrics during the first part, making its wordless back half feel like a work in progress, still being constructed as you listen. This interplay highlights the growing confidence of a band that often used their live shows to workshop new material. They learned from their jazz training to embrace a sense of danger, knowing each risk could lead to their next destination.

While Karate would test the boundaries of this experimental style on 2000’s spacey, masterful Unsolved, the songs on The Bed Is in the Ocean maintain a foot in the world of their early, more traditional sound. The closing “Not to Call the Police,” in that context, feels like a pivot point. For much of the song, the trio explores its quiet-loud dynamics with a noirish mood. The slow groove of Goddard’s bass against Farina’s bending notes and McCarthy’s snaking rhythm conjures a sense of quiet motion, like snow blowing through empty streets on a freezing night, after a blizzard stops.

Then, at the end of the second chorus, the band slows down, quieting their instruments for an instrumental break and pausing every few bars for dramatic effect. Eventually, they head down the runway for a gradual slow build that never quite takes off. It begins with Farina strumming his guitar and listing a few stray, disassociated images. Soon his bandmates join him, offering flurries of emphasis at the end of each line. “And I can see my breath,” Farina notices in the final lyric, just before the band kicks in for one last attack. And as they thrash and sway, you might exhale with him, noticing how it floats and lingers and dissolves in the air around you.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Karate - The Bed Is in the Ocean Music Album Reviews Karate - The Bed Is in the Ocean Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, March 19, 2022 Rating: 5

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