God only knows what Sundara Karma have been doing in the two years since they released their debut album, but given the sound of sophomore long player ‘Ulfilas’ Alphabet’, it’s safe to say that it’s involved listening to a lot of Brian Eno. Ultimately, ‘Alphabet’ is the sound of a band searching for the spirit of Eno’s endless pursuit for originality and layered production, whilst maintaining a loving for a well-formed pop melody.
Starting with ‘A song for my future self’, and it’s Sgt Pepper meets David Bowie feel, ‘Ulfila’s’ is a highly experimental record which continually surprises and satisfies. Standouts ‘Symbols of joy and eternity’ (sounding like a blend of The Tamperer’s 90s club classic ‘Feel it’ and Abba at their cheesiest) ‘Illusions’, ‘Little smart houses’ and ‘Higher States’ somehow manage to hold on to the Karma’s traditional stacks of guitars but blend them with disco rhythms, funky basslines, interesting electronica, abstract lyrics and layered vocals. The overall effect of this is an album rich with interesting experiments which pay off handsomely in an overall composition not too far away from U2’s Achtung Baby; which of course was produced by Eno. This is the best new release I’ve heard this year. By some distance.