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REVIEW: Kauan – “Kaiho”

It’s pretty usual for bands to sing in different languages, as their very own in many cases isn’t be the best to address a big community. So either you go with your very own language and try to build a base in your home country, or you go with English, a language that is universal. There’s only a small number of bands capable of becoming very big worldwide singing in their mother tongue. For Germany it might be Rammstein or Kraftwerk, who definitely deserve their status. Summer hits in French, Spanish or Italian also work out sometimes, but how about the following:

Multiculturalism

Kauan, a Russian band, which is based in the Ukraine, doesn’t sing in English; neither do they use Russian vocals. They actually decided to go with Finnish! This might sound strange, but the language’s phonetics perfectly match up with the musical aspect of Kauan. When the band released their record Sorni Nai in 2015, they made it into my ‘favourites’ playlist of that year. Sorni Nai was dark, heavy and very depressing, telling the story of the Dyatlov-pass incident (read our review here). This album made me do some research about this incident, watching a lot of documentaries and horror movies based on it until I really got into the case.

I started to understand how perfectly Kauan realized their very own vision of it and adapted it into their music. Sorni Nai tells the story from probably the most intimate perspective you will find out there. With their new record Kaiho, though, it feels very different, and yet so close.

First off, the whole perception of ambiance and the width of the musical composition that Kauan use here is very similar to their previous album. Songs like “Siiville Nosou” are able to create this bright, barren and cold landscape, while a slight warm breeze will still touch your body, like a wall of sound. Beginning with a soloing piano, this new Kauan record also delivers a neo-classical vibe that, bound in minimalism, fits so perfectly; a comparison to Ólafur Arnalds or Nils Frahm wouldn’t be out of place. Another standout factor is the use of high vocalises that sound pop-inspired, but in a totally different musical surrounding.

Organic sound

You can even hear the sound of the piano’s mechanics! This little detail adds a very warm and organic character to the music. Apparently the mood on several songs works quite similarly to Steven Wilson‘s Hand.Cannot.Erase., especially compared to “Perfect Life”. It will leave you reflecting your memories, which is basically the main theme of Kaiho. As stated on the band’s bandcamp:

KAUAN step out of their past, songwriter and founding member Anton Belov explores the transition from idyllic childhood to the care-laden weight of adulthood, fondly and tenderly bringing the faded memories of days long gone to life.

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The Finnish title itself means ‘nostalgia’. That being said, nostalgia goes through this whole listening experience; maybe this is why it is so easy to identify with the music on Kauan‘s newest output. Perhaps it’s in the fact that every person can reflect nostalgia, or that everyone is currently yearning for someone or something. This is your soundtrack. Kaiho really shows a lot of depth, which might be because of the overall apparent use of ambiance. The orchestration implemented by strings, the atmosphere in the background and the mostly vocalised clean vocals by the band’s female singer shape this cloud. A cloud that surrounds you, leaving you seeing nothing but what’s inside.

“Kasvot“ shows how full and bright the sound of Kaiho is. The drums sound so powerful and huge, not drowning or fading in the mix. Overall, the use of drums is very minimalistic and more accentuating (it doesn’t take the focus off the other instruments at all), while melody lines are often played by the piano and viola. In direct comparison to the band’s previous effort Sorni Nai, they stepped away further from their doom influences, leaving out all growling, whilst further drawing together the soundscape aspect of their music. There is a slight touch of folk music in several songs that mixes up with a certain goth rock vibe. This is to be observed in “Lahja” for example; a very ethereal song.

Emotion and memory

When releasing the video for “Kaiho”, the band asked which memories came to one’s mind after listening to it. In fact, “Kaiho” is a very unusual song to do a video for. It basically is nothing but ambiance and harmony, not coming up with a clear melody line. This ethereal experience will have you feel like you’re drowning, as the whole record will. To answer Kauan‘s question: I found peace within myself, got relaxed and thought about how beautiful life is. And if this is the proper meaning and effect of what Kaiho tries to give to us recipients, it’s probably the most honest and beautiful record you will listen to for a long time. Kauan don’t need guitar wanking and wizardry, they will enchant you with their minimalism and great feeling for melodies, atmosphere and sound in general.

I’m curious. What was your experience with Kaiho? Let us know!

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Score: 9/10

Notable Tracks: “Siiville Nosou“, “Kasvot”, “Kaiho”

FFO: Sigur Rós, Sólstafir, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds

Follow Kauan on Facebook and visit their Bandcamp to purchase Kaiho!

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