Karcius Sphere

Unlike Liquid Tension Experiment and Transatlantic, Montreal’s Karcius are helping to bridge the gap between prog rock and fusion jazz without the overt frippery that’s seemingly inborn in this subgenre. Their debut album, Sphere, starts off with a playful Spanish acoustic intro to "Kunidé,” which settles into a retro Jefferson Airplane groove with Fender Rhodes keys. The tune heels halfway through on a fusion jazz tack, and this Mahavishnu Orchestra-styled flavour bleeds into "Liquid Meat” on the King Crimson side of prog metal. "Evolution” expands to a Cosmosquad/Planet X level with Simon L’Espérance’s tangential guitar soloing dominating the mix. Part deux of the "Lunatik” suite, the faster "Synapse” sounds like a cross between old Dreadnaught and brawny, John Wetton-era Crimson. The well-crafted intros are truly intended to grab the listener: "1111” begins with a Rick Wakeman-like classical piano piece, and after an ambient washout, the nine-minute "Labyrinthe” gets funky like Primus and glides into a not-so-far-fetched Cream template. "Absolute Decadence” dabbles on the electric side of McGill Manring Stevens, melded with jangly Average White Band riffage. Sphere’s jazz-metal infused with said strains of classic rock makes for quite the intriguing ride, as Karcius’ creed will generate continued salience among like-minded proggers. (Independent)