Kanaan : Odense Sessions

Norwegian three piece Kanaan showed up at the end of 2018 with the intense and forward-thinking Windborne. Combining elements of post-rock, Krautrock, and even art rock, these three young musicians made a fine addition to the El Paraiso Records roster. Their music swayed from melancholy doom to breezy and ethereal soundscapes, giving their sound a feeling of both deja vu and otherworldly discovery. They brought with them from Norway a music history filled with both darkness and light, putting all of those elements into a sound that was equal parts rural folk, 70s buzzing rock, and modern beauty.

Instead of giving us a proper follow-up to Windborne(that’s coming in a couple months), Ask Vatn Strøm(guitars), Ingvald André Vassbø(drums), and Eskild Myrvoll(bass) headed to Denmark and spent a few days tripping the light fantastic with Causa Sui guitarist and El Paraiso Records co-head Jonas Munk at his home studio in Odense. The results of these jam sessions is Odense Sessions, a free-form jam experiment that sounds very little like the Kanaan of Windborne. Four tracks over close to 50 minutes deep dive into space jams and groove-laden guitar freakouts. Munk’s influence is apparent as these tracks sometimes veer into Summer Sessions territory. But make no mistake, Kanaan are flying this supersonic rocket, with Jonas Munk occasionally setting coordinates to far-reaching sound excursions courtesy of added guitar, synth and sonic color. Odense Sessions is a mind-expanding slab of wax.

We’re greeted at the door by the incense-laced “Seemingly Changeless Stars”. Unlike Windborne, here Kanaan are opening their musical world to a kind of slow motion psychedelia. There aren’t hooks necessarily, more like moods that pull you in. I’m reminded of Pacific northwest psych bands like Eternal Tapestry and Carlton Melton. Rural mind melts and cabin jams that are elevated by good coffee and maybe a hallucinogenic thrown in for good measure. “Of Raging Billows Breaking on the Ground” is a rocker. Big guitar and bass riffs with plenty of meat on their bones. This is the kind of riff fest Soundgarden or Mudhoney would’ve proudly displayed on an SST or Sub Pop release back in 1990. There’s still plenty of ethereal beauty in-between the guitar fest. Munk adds sonic colors and subtle touches to add a bit of light-headed dreaminess to the proceedings.

Side two opens with the molten groove fest of “Vacant Spaces”. A late night basement jam with lava lamps blazing and a haze in the air comes to mind. There’s no rush to get to the end here as they add an almost David Gilmour-like lead that is tasteful, soulful, and just the right amount of off the beaten path to keep it intriguing. This is as close as I’ve heard these guys come to a blues jam, but make no mistake this is not your dad’s Chicago blues knockoff. This is Odense blues, with just the right amount of mind expansion added. “Urgent Excursions to the Tundrasphere” closes the record out in a very Kanaan fashion. This has the most connective sonic tissue to Winborne, with just the right amount of Norwegian musical pageantry and epic vibes. The song builds to a epic gallop with some almost Robin Trower-like guitar tones towards the end.

Odense Sessions sees the Kanaan fellas stretching their musical muscle with the help of music wizard Jonas Munk. It’s an epic listen and one that shows a band growing leaps and bounds in such a short amount of time. While you wait for the proper follow-up to Windborne, drop the needle on this slab of free-form and forward-thinking rock and roll.

Odense Sessions drops February 14th. Order it from El Paraiso Records, or check in with Forced Exposure for US shipping. 

8.2 out of 10

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