Sunday, 24 February 2013

Kazan - Maslow O


A while ago I reviewed some records by French hardcore/screamo bands Who Needs Maps? and Never Again. It turned that one of the members of both those bands, had his own label called Orchidscent Records. He sent me over some of his latest releases to check out and review. This is the first review (sorry it's a bit late).

Kazan are a French post-hardcore band whose previous releases include a demo and two splits with After Taste and Downfall of Gaia respectively. Maslow O was their first full-length, which was released in 2010 on both CD and vinyl by a myriad of labels including Orchidscent. 

Tracklisting - 

1. Je Ne Suis Plus un Homme
2. So Say We All
3. Jour Apres Jour (Feat. Arcane XVII)
4. Le Rythme de Tombeau
5. Etre et (s)Avoir: Pt.1
6. Etre et (s)Avoir: Pt.2
7. Ma Vie C'est du Lourd
8. Carnal

Kazan open with Je Ne Suis Plus un Homme, which is some frenetic, mid-paced hardcore. After the initial intro, they unleash passionate screams with good melodic instrumentation that highlights their screamo/post-hardcore influences. Much like the bands they sight as friends, they play in that European style which is getting a lot of attention of late. The lengthy instrumental mid section gives way to another impassioned vocal section which is pretty rousing as it crescendo's neatly to a close.

The opener flows neatly into So Say We All. The treble of the guitar and that fact that they don't go too overboard with the heaviness is great to hear. The vocals screams may not be understandable unless you read the lyrics at the same time, but that's what screamo is all about. Kazan seem to add a lot of modern touches to the style, with clean production and a control that helps them to sound really accomplished as musicians. Also, the braveness and ability to play longer songs means they have room to experiment and bring their songs to life. The fact that they let three members of the band provide vocals on Maslow O shows that they're all about participation and inclusion.

Jour Apres Jour features a French hip-hop artist named Arcane XVII, so I was pretty intrigued to hear what they could bring to Kazan's sound. The song itself is a mix of spoken word and screams, with subtle instrumentation. At this point it's also worth mentioning that all of Kazan's songs are in their native tongue. Reading the lyric insert too, Kazan have had the foresight to translate their song meanings into other languages, so listeners can appreciate what the songs are about, which is a really nice addition. In terms of the song itself, I don't hear much of the hip-hop influence that Arcane XVII was meant to bring to the song, but maybe I was listening for it because in fairness, it was pretty subtle.

I have to say that I wasn't sure what to expect from Kazan, but their mix of caustic hardcore screams and clever instrumentation makes for a really good listen if you're into your screamo. There's plenty going on to keep you interested and the longer song lengths here aren't an issue either, as you just want to keep listening throughout. They throw in some nice low-end bass during Le Rythme de Tombeau, which adds some heft to their music, but for the most part it's the treble that rules the roost and adds musicality.

The next song is in effect a two-parter. Etre et (s)Avoir Pt.1 kicks it off with a moody instrumental build up. It actually gets heavier until it stops dead and leaves just the guitar gently strumming. There's a constant wall of sound sitting beneath the vocals here, which makes the whole thing sit very cohesively. It flows straight into Pt.2 and follows the end of the previous song with light strumming guitar and clever percussion. The great thing about Kazan is that while most screamo bands use and sometime overuse different time signatures in their music, Kazan choose to keep thing simple and let their music do the talking as opposed to how many different signatures they can fit into a song. If you're a fan of music but you don't want all of the discordant, feedback-ridden angst of hardcore, then Kazan and their brand of screamo will be more up your street. Likewise, if you're a fan of Downfall of Gaia and the like, you'll find plenty to love here.

Ma Vie Ces't du Lourd allows Kazan to sound a bit heavier during parts of the song. They add a bit more dissonance but this is used sparingly and the jangly guitar is not overruled. It's definitely got a very different feel to it; one, which is more claustrophobic than previous songs but fits well. Final song Carnal continues in that vein too. Slightly more austere and menacing in it's delivery. I really like this record. I'm a big fan of screamo anyway but there's always something about a band that present in their native tongue which makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I can't explain it but it just seems to fit together. Kazan are great musicians and present screamo in their own way and for that they deserve your attention.

You can stream Maslow O on Kazan's website at http://www.kazan-band.com/discographie

As I mentioned in the intro, this record was released on CD and vinyl by a number of labels, so below you can find links to those labels and if you like what you heard above, make sure you purchase a copy to support Kazan and the labels - 

Dreams Come True Records (France) - http://dreamcomestruehxc.free.fr/ (site currently under construction)
Emotionally Unstable (France) - http://emotionallyunstablerecords.over-blog.net/
Impure Muzik (France) - http://www.impuremuzik.fr
Maloka (France) - http://www.malokadistro.com/
Monkey Cookie Records (France) - http://www.myspace.com/monkeycookierec
Orchidscent Records (France) - http://orchidscentrecords.blogspot.co.uk/ 
Radical Dreamers (France) - http://www.armeedereveurs.com/ 
We Told You To Play Fast (Belgium) - wetoldyoutopla (at) gmail (dot) com

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