Boomkat Product Review:
Beloved Boston emo-jazz outfit Karate have the second half of their catalogue immortalized on a bumper five-disc set from Numero. Includes "Unsolved", "Some Boots", "Pockets" and "Cancel/Sing".
Having recently reunited after splintering back in 2005, Karate have a buzz of interest circling them. Numero reissued the band's cult early albums last year, but "Time Expired" catalogs their next phase after the departure of founder bassist Eamonn Vitt, who left in 1997. Described by Numero as the "difficult" second half of their career, it saw the band move more tangibly into a jazz sound, letting the all out rock of '97's "In Place of Real Insight" languish completely. There's an unashamed progginess that this approach obviously drags into the frame - firstly the album itself is a lengthy double - but it's embellished by walking basslines, floral guitar licks and tip-tap jazz drums. It's only really Geoff Farina's deadpan slack-rawk vocals that betray Karate's emo/hardcore roots.
For the collectors, Numero has rolled up crunchy tape-worn demo versions of 'Get Reborn', 'Old Code' and 'The Angels Just Have to Show' before we move on to 2001's "Cancel/Sing" EP, another prog-jazz experiment from the band that forefronts their instrumental prowess, only adding (sparse) vocals on the 15-minute 'Sing'. A year later on "Some Boots", it sounds as if Karate had shaken at least some of the jazz out of their system, flexing their instrumental skill with tight songs that dotted in-and-out of ska and dub modes while paying attention to the band's indie roots. A few years later on "Pockets", they sounded more indebted to '70s and early '80s soft rock and yacht rock, embodying a Steely Dan-esque musicality on tracks like 'With Age' and 'Tow Truck'.