Reco Mended

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In 2001, Karmacoda showed a fair amount of promise on their debut album, Reco Mended. This 49-minute CD was recorded at a time when Karmacoda was primarily a studio project, not a group that performed live shows on a regular basis. But when Reco Mended received a favorable response in Bay Area electronica circles, Karmacoda started to make live performances a high priority -- and it isn't hard to understand why those Northern California listeners appreciated Reco Mended as much as they did. The material is generally appealing -- material that makes it clear how trip-hop got its name. Intriguing tracks such as "Disrespect," "Amsterdam Room," "Merciless," and "A Desolate Heat" are indeed trippy; the whole album favors a trippy, spacy ambience, and trippiness prevails whether the lead vocals are male vocals or whether they are being provided by female singer Heather Pierce. It should be noted that after 2001, Pierce eventually went on to become Karmacoda's primary lead singer; vocally, Pierce is dominant on 2007's Illuminate, whereas on Reco Mended, she plays a prominent role as a lead singer but without being dominant and without surpassing the male vocals in prominence. Reco Mended is not Karmacoda's most essential album -- in 2001, Karmacoda were still finding their way creatively, and their best work was yet to come -- but it's a generally respectable, if imperfect, debut that got the ball rolling for the Bay Area-based trip-hop and alternative pop/rock outfit.

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