Karate – Cancel/Sing EP

Karate
Cancel/Sing EP

On Cancel/Sing, the two songs whose titles together name the EP are going to be worthy additions to fans that have welcomed the trio’s continued paradigmatic exploration of structures and improvisations. An approach that helped to develop the previous full-length release Unsolved, bassist Jeff Goddard, drummer Gavin McCarthy and guitarist/singer Geoff Farina seem set on challenging themselves and obviously, in turn, challenging most listeners. Because they are carving out a space in indie-rock that is entirely unique, it becomes increasingly difficult to make any immediate comparisons. The consummate structures that many admire Steely Dan for or the tight jams that bands like Pele or Mercury Program might pull off are points of reference, but not entirely similar to the originality of this Boston band.
The 11+ minute song “Cancel” starts as any recent Karate song might with bass and drum supporting that often deliberate Farina guitar sound that can also be heard on Geoff’s solo releases. A distinctive vocal manner that many have noted is somewhere between singing and speaking has also to do with the often-unique meter of Farina’s words. He delivers prose-like lyricism that seems equally important as the music does for the band: “They revive the verbs that strive to serve their gentle charity / Like Isis versus velum, don’t you ever tell them the things they do to me.” From there, the song enters a realm of progressive improvisation that is neither self-indulgent nor boring. This has to do with Farina’s uncanny ability to always have complete control of the space between his guitar and his amplifier. It is rare that an indie-rock musician should have such control over “feedback” that he can successfully produce and reproduce the desired effect in both the studio and live setting with clarity and purpose.
The more contemporary offering of the two songs here is “Sing,” and at almost 15 minutes in length, it is perhaps the longest song that Karate has ever offered the listener. In no way is this song a medley, however in one song the listener runs the course of all that Karate is capable of. From free jazz to straightforward rock with intellectual lyricism, it’s in here.