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Kalaha - 2024 - "Nord Havn"

(42:11; April Records)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. CiklideKaj 4:12
2. Norsk Fars 3:55
3. Nordhavn 4:10
4. Tunnelfabrik 5:23
5. Sara Banderole 3:47
6. HavneFrode 5:43
7. Bolvaerksmatrosens Blues 5:23
8. Nordiske Fjer 5:12
9. Bjergmokka 4:26


Emil de Waal - drums, percussion, vocals
Niclas Knudsen - guitars, guitar synthesizer
Jens Berents Christiansen - synthesizer, Rhodes, electronic instruments and effects
Anders Stig Möller - bass, synthesizers, electronic instruments and effects
Otto Wittenburg Berents - vocals
Fanny Brandt - samples

Prolusion. Danish band Kalaha has been an active recording and live band from 2014 and onward, and have been the subject of a lot of praise for their studio albums as well as their live efforts over the years. The band release new studio material at a fairly steady pace, with seven albums to their name as of 2024. Their most recent creation is called "Nord Havn", and was released by Danish label April Records at the start of 2024.

Analysis. This is a band that are self-described as making use of elements from a number of different musical traditions, where psychedelic rock, Anatolian rock and jazz are just some of the sources of inspiration mentioned. Curiously enough they do not mention progressive rock as such, but of the contents of this latest album of theirs is anything to go by, my impression is that the progressive rock moniker is one that fits the landscapes explored fairly well too. Some of the compositions we are presented with actually gives me associations to a band like Ozric Tentacles, or at least what a band of that kind could sound like if they decided to dampen some of the cosmic and extravagant elements just a little bit and replace them with sounds and effect of a more down to Earth nature. The psychedelic elements are perhaps the most notable aspect throughout here, with careful guitar details, electronics and keyboards all chiming in with impulses in that direction to a lesser or greater degree. World music elements are another mainstay here, either as more exotic details that adds depth and tension to the landscapes explored or as more narrow and defined elements that pulls in elements from the reggae tradition or the more or less related dub aspect of the world music legacy. Some more loose and creative instrument details that add a little bit of a jazz feel to the material are noted too, especially in the rhythm section. With at least some instances that come across as perhaps being the results of a little bit of improvisation. The band doesn't shy away from more modern impulses either, with electronic noise carefully applied on a few occasions and a little bit of techno sneaking in on a couple of cuts too. And as with the aforementioned Ozric Tentacles, Kalaha does add a little bit of a cosmic influx to the landscapes explored at times too. On the other end of the scale we also get songs featuring keyboards that come across as rather more vintage oriented too, so this isn't a band that limit their expansions only to more contemporary sounds and ideas. The most striking aspect of this studio production is that the songs by and large are uplifting and playful however. We do get a few slower cuts of a more dreamladen variety, but even here there's a playful and elegant feeling throughout, and in the more energetic songs there's a liberal amount of fun added to the proceedings too. That the album ends on a more firm note with the more rock oriented 'Bjergmokka' suits the tone of the album in that manner too, saving the most energetic and vibrant excursion to be the song that concludes this mainly instrumental journey on an impressive high.

Conclusion. While Kalaha may not be a band that explore a conventional aspect of progressive rock, the creative songwriting, flexible compositions and mix and blend of multiple style elements does make them a good fit into this musical universe and tradition as far as I'm concerned. If you tend to enjoy bands similar to Ozric Tentacles and you also have a little bit of a fancy for psychedelic rock and jazz, and fun and playful instrumental music is of general interest too, then I suspect that this is an album that you should find to be quite the rewarding experience.

Progmessor: February 2024
The Rating Room

Related Links:


April Records


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