There’s a certain kind of band that just seems to be connected on the molecular level. A band so in tune with the vibes that their jams are like on a telepathic plane. Without talking they shift tempos or keys without a second thought, knowing that’s what the other is thinking. One such band is Norway’s Kanaan. Kanaan is a three-piece that travel along the border between 70s fusion, Krautrock, and something like gypsy doom metal. Ask Vatn Strøm(guitars), Ingvald André Vassbø(drums), and Eskild Myrvoll(bass) work up some serious musical voodoo that spans the past 40 years of forward-thinking rock and roll. Blistering guitar explosions give way to breezy summer glides into sunsets drives and longing, only to take us into almost 70s classic rock complete with soulful guitar exercises.
Kanaan are readying their El Paraiso Records debut. The album is called Windborne and it sounds like the work of a weathered veteran power trio, not three young guys just getting things started. Over the course of six tracks, Kanaan take us on a musical journey that ranges many sonic delights. One thing is for sure, these guys serve many musical masters and they flex those music muscles expertly here.
“A. Hausenbecken” was the first single and it’s the kind of track that seems to embody the mission statement of Kanaan. It possesses all the elements that make this band so unique and great: serious groove, melody-driven, and the ethereal feel of some sci-fi epic put to music. This track feels like an epic journey at sea. The guitars recall early Robin Trower, like Bridge of Sighs but without all the David Gilmour pontificating. Just pure feeling thru buzzing solos. There’s also the nice touch of some Rhodes electric piano courtesy of Vegard Lien Bjerkan, which adds some Herbie Hancock Headhunters vibe to the proceedings. It’s not even the longest song on the album, yet it feels absolutely epic.
“Roll Beyond” is the longest track here at over 10 minutes. It’s a sprawling doom-laden song that sounds like Electric Miles going full dark side. Bitches Brew on absinthe and Motorpsycho. I love it when a band can summon absolute sonic chaos then bring it all together as if things didn’t just sound like they were on the brink of absolute devastation. “Roll Beyond” brings things together into a massive rock and roll groove a few minutes in. The song somehow morphs into this almost progressive rock jam that defies the laws of space and time.
One of my absolute favorite tracks here is “Harmonia”, which yes does resemble the upbeat, motorik vibes of its namesake but builds its own legend through crisp production and ethereal sound collages. There’s the feeling of freedom in this song. Driving rhythm, crystalline guitar lines, and the forward motion of the track makes you want to just hit the gas pedal and see how long it takes to get to the horizon. An absolutely gorgeous track that had it been 20 minutes long I’d be okay with that.
Kanaan really does run the musical gamut here, but that one thru line is the power of what guitars, bass, and drums can do when the right folks are behind the instruments. Kanaan sound far bigger than their collective parts. There’s a real organic vibe to this record that I feel is missing in modern rock these days(with the exception of most other El Paraiso releases, natch.)
Something like “Act Upon The Mundane World” is all fuzz and grunge, as if Mudhoney and Blue Cheer found some serious groove and got into progressive rock. “The Groke” is as close as Kanaan comes to doom metal. Slow motion, guttural guitar churns like rusty gears, as if Sleep decided to have a go at the delta blues. Title track “Windborne” beautifully encapsulates the record we just experienced. It feels like the appropriate way to end the album, on a more fusion-tinged note. Dreamy vibes mixed with the spirit of Mahavishnu Orchestra while the drums self-destruct and the overall sonics seem to elevate to some other level of consciousness.
Windborne is an immense debut record. Full of 70s riffage and forward-thinking, fusion-tinged musical blotter for the mind. Kanaan step into the fray a fully-formed music entity ready to melt minds and rewire your frontal lobe for maximum damage.
8.6 out of 10