Kan Wakan | Moving On | Rating: 8.5/11 |
If you take an album’s cover artwork into consideration with regard to the contents housed within, then Kan Wakan’s debut album, Moving On, might infer a stalemate of sorts. Musical, emotional, temporal fixedness not unlike the mythological Sisyphus and his cyclically vicious boulder issues, whom the artwork appears to be inspired by. Yes and no, where Kan Wakan are concerned.
That they, as a band, have reached for musical character less than well-represented in popular music (or at least in music that is actually popular), Kan Wakan has navigated outside of the box, yet they simultaneously contain themselves neatly and sweetly. Moving On plays with orchestral presence and the grand spaces in between where noir, romance and space jazz, Portishead and Nina Simone collide head on: not with agitated force, but with passions on a sensual simmer (note that a real orchestra was utilized to achieve the album’s lofty tone). That particular space seems to be the wheelhouse of the trio of made up of Gueorgui I. Linev, Peter Potyondy (both of whom also assume production duties) with chanteuse Kristianne Bautista lushly narrating the course. Observe the subtle instrument of her chocolatey voice and how it’s played with sheer and romantic restraint. Cinematic but far from unfortunately tricked out, it’s almost too easy to envision the classical headiness of “Space Owl” or “Mont Blanc” making an appearance in a James Bond film. The title track and “Like I Need You,” have already done solid duty in laying advance sound groundwork for the band in preparing the senses for the grand designs to come. Digging deeper, in truth, “Are We Saying Goodbye” is an Adele song waiting to happen while “Why Don’t You Save Me” is so beautifully low down that the spirit of Billie Holiday may have been standing in the corner of the studio during its recording.
What we are dealing with here is a soulful and intergalactic landscape more than capable of transporting its listener, and such a claim couldn’t be any more fitting than towards “Midnight Moon Pt. 1” and “Midnight Moon Pt. 2.” Pace is the trick (yes, I just cited an Interpol song) and the one Moving On keeps is as steady and deep as a heartbeat with rhythmic swells charting the scenic journey. Now that we’ve all got an idea of where Kan Wakan is coming from, now we can look forward to where they’re going.