Review: Ananda Mida ‘Karnak’ EP

Ananda Mida are an Italian outfit who have been playing their mix of stoner-rock, psych and prog since 2015. They are led predominantly by drummer Max Ear (OJM/Go Down Records co-founder) and Matteo Pablo Scolaro (underground guitarist/curator of Go Down Bands On Tour) who have played with fluctuating line-ups from three to six members. The band’s label, the aforementioned Go Down Records feature such prominent names as Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man, The Fuzztones, The Morlocks and Vic Monte’s Persona Non Grata (Chris Cockrell former Kyuss bassist).

Ananda Mida ‘Karnak’

Preceding Karnak were the albums Cathodnatius from 2019, Anodnatius from 2016 and the Aktavas/Passavas double A side debut release from 2015. This EP is a live document of gigs performed pre-covid (remember those times?) in the summers of 2018 & 2019, while the artwork by Eeviac Graphics (who worked on the band’s previous releases) are ‘a further step towards the choral composition that will see the light with the next album Reconciler, which will complete the trilogy’.

To open the EP, we have an unreleased instrumental version of Anulios, which can be found in its original form on the Anodnatius album. Listening to it one is reminded of the now sadly defunct Samsara Blues Experiment who cover similar ground, progressive blues inflected stoner-rock jamming. The Anodnatius original came with additional great Robert Plant/Paul Rogers-esque vocals, but I prefer the version here which feels a lot more spontaneous and free as a result of not being restricted by melodic vocal lines. The band has more room to play and to explore sonic landscapes resulting in a sound that better suits the track’s name, a reference to what Russian mystic/philosopher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff referred to as the ‘second moon of the earth’. The otherworldly artwork ties nicely into this concept as well.

If you love desert rock/psych but hanker after something a little different, you can’t go wrong with what Ananda Mida offer here…

Next we have Jam With Mario, (Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man for the uninitiated), a fantastically funky piece akin to The Meters discovering the joys of desert/psych-rock. There is a slight Weather Report jazz fusion feel too with the bass not overly dissimilar to that of the late Jaco Pastorious, while very faint traces of King Crimson’s 80s progressive new wave period present itself as well and which is amplified further on final track The Pilot.

This number opened the Cathodnatius album and featured the mighty Conny Ochs, who you may be familiar with for his collaborations with doom godfather Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich. Well, Conny makes a reappearance here, and his rich tones blend in as effortlessly with the music live as it did on the full-length. In spite of the progressive detours of the track, this is probably the most ‘conventional’ the band have sounded on the EP and is really indicative of where Genesis should have gone post Duke, as opposed to the cringeworthy Collins ballads and lame synthesized 80s pop. After two tracks of glorious expansiveness, The Pilot helps bring Karnak to a grounded conclusion.

‘This EP bears witness to the unfettered and spiced up attitude of improvisations, that has constantly distinguished Ananda Mida’s live activity’ and it would be difficult to disagree with that statement. The music here may be progressive, but it’s in the best tradition of the term, true experimentation and the expanding of musical boundaries as opposed to self-indulgence/pretension.

If you love desert rock/psych but hanker after something a little different, you can’t go wrong with what Ananda Mida offer here. Karnak works so effectively because it has an ability to surprise even those who believe they’ve heard everything the genre has to offer.

Label: Go Down Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills