“Mela Ananda-Live”

By The Great Sun Jester

The first live album through Napalm Records for German band My Sleeping Karma clearly shows how well the band’s studio material translates into a live setting. The ten songs on "Mela Ananda" are culled from a cross-section of the band’s brief, but memorable, career and show off both their intelligence and instrumental flair. Their recordings and touring placed them in a spot where their ascending reputation is demanding more than ever before, but this is an uniquely talented unit well tuned for a response. Anyone encountering My Sleeping Karma knows they are quite a capable studio band, but this reveals the full breadth of their talents as the band’s catalog of material springs to vivid life on this well recorded release.

Dynamics are, naturally, something the band’s instrumentals specialize in. The opener “Prithvi” has an appealingly shambolic quality lead by the guitar work and inventive drumming. My Sleeping Karma only goes in for extended instrumental pieces when there’s some clear reason to do – this is a band that disdains the typical stylistic self-indulgences. The five minutes and change running time of the song means the unit keeps their focus sharp throughout. My Sleeping Karma incorporates audience noise discreetly and the respectfulness they show the band is rather impressive – “Glow11” represents an excellent example of how they capture and hold an audience’s attention. The main portion of the song takes on a languid pace with a light weaving of electric guitar and a fleet-footed rhythm section anchoring the song, but takes a more expansive turn in the second half before a hard-hitting coda. There’s a much grander air investing the band’s performance of “Ephedra”, but the same skills manipulating light and shade distinguishing much of the band’s work get a more nuanced workout here. There’s a lot of fire, as well, in the band’s performance.

“Akasha” has plenty of instrumental atmosphere, but the track’s inexorable swing sets it apart from much of the remaining tracks. The Strum and Drang the band brings to their instrumental performances is largely dependent on the band’s rhythm section and they set themselves apart here once again. My Sleeping Karma excels at drawing listeners into a musical maelstrom and few songs better invoke that sensation than “Brahama”. It incorporates the same patient build distinguishing many of My Sleeping Karma’s songs, but the powerful chemistry between the players reaches a new level thanks to the completeness of the songwriting. Every element is addressed and adding some, like organ, gives the song a greater gravitas than what you might assume. The final performance included on "Mela Ananda", “Hymn 72”, takes on an uptempo and decidedly retro groove and has a number of instrumental flairs that make it a killer choice for ending the live album. My Sleeping Karma have rightly earned a reputation as one of the pre-eminent instrumental bands working today and this live album only further burnishes it.