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Kandahar - Long Live the Sliced Ham CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.49 | 20 ratings

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4 stars Kandahar made two excellent albums and this, their debut, is one of them. Jaggy whammed-out and often fuzzy guitar, sumptuous saxophone squawks and squirts added with some highly melodic bass and drums mark this album as something of an unknown gem. Almost every track is enough to put me into an almost higher state of consciousness, because Kandahar really throw in lots of foot-tappingly stunning moments of worthy jazz and brass rock. They are hard to compare to any other band precisely, but they are by no means unique, but they do not have to be. There are some hints to Colosseum (the first incarnation, e.g. Valentyne Suite) and with the added underlying synth, they also remind me of some of the more symphonic jazz-rooted bands, especially from the Italian scene and one must not forget the obvious nod to Canterbury bands such as Nucleus and Soft Machine. The music is mostly of a light nature, but is juxtaposed with some almost haunting and ambient sections at times, which for me, show some great creativity. The use of many instruments, such as saxophone, flute and different synths, such as the ARP and Davoli makes their sound varied and interesting.

Jeff de Visscher's guitar playing is quirky also and because I am not a musician myself, it is difficult to describe, however, it seems he may have been listening to Chris Spedding who was with Nucleus. On Outside of Reality, for instance, his guitar playing has an Eastern feel to it (kind of Egyptian), which bearing in mind the band is named after the capital city of Afghanistan and that Karel Boegard lived in the Far-East, makes me believe that was very much intentional.

With track six Survivin' Boogie you get an odd jazz and R&B smattered score with vocals, which as the name suggests has hints of barrelhouse piano and although it is one of the weaker tracks on the album, it is still enjoyable because a. it is so fun to listen to and b. because there is some great interaction between all the musicians. The trumpets in the background give the track its jazz element (think of Keef Hartley Band here). As for The Walkin' Place, well, the intro sounds just like something Zeuhl band Weidorje or Japanese avant-progsters Koenjihyakkei would make their own and it even has some fuzz bass at the beginning, until the track lycanthropically changes into another beast entirely, having a somewhat Spanish feel to it, with some odd percussion playing on toms toms I believe. Near the end, the Zeuhl-feel returns and reveals a wonderful flute outtro. However, the highlight track for me is The Hobbit, which is so catchy, I have had it stuck in my head for days before, even though the track is one of their most laid-back and ambient, as well as not their compositionally best attempt. It just has some allure to it that I cannot fathom. The Fancy Model is their most avant-jazz effort, reminding me of Nucleus or Graham Collier Sextet at their absolute finest. It is full of lots of noise, due to the fact that there are two saxes being blasted to bits and you even get the John Marshall (who was the drummer in Nucleus, Graham Collier Sextet and Soft Machine at various times) style drum solo. This is certainly another highlight of the album and some may feel this is the strongest track on the whole album. When She Flies Away is an odd synth track at the beginning that reminds me a bit of disco and 80s synth-pop that would later be very much in the publics faces and ears a few years later, except in this case, it works brilliantly and the jazzy overtones again make this track somehow unique and definitely unforgettable. Being as this is the longest track on the album, it cannot obviously stay the same throughout and it certainly does not, it changes throughout with many timing shifts and mood. The background vocals at one point strangely remind me of a moment from Jack Black's School of Rock and I can actually imagine him on stage singing this... whether that is a good thing, you will have to decide for yourself.

The entire album is full of character and cunning compositional brilliance at times and I find it difficult to find a poor track. I have always had an affinity to the trumpet style of Henry Lowther of Keef Hartley Band and the occasional jaunts of that style of this sound really pleases me, however it is a shame that the trumpet players (including the saxophonist(s) and flautist) are not listed. However, there are some lesser moments, including the not so enjoyable Survivin' Boogie and the 13 second Interlude. Also, some of the synth sounds, sound a bit twee at times, but with so much brilliant music on offer for the listener, it is very difficult to complain about such things and that is why I have given it 4 stars.

This is one of those rare gems that get discovered occasionally and it definitely deserves a re-mastering and reissue on CD so more people can hear its brilliance. Their next album In the Court of Catherina Squeezer would continue on in a similar vein (yet with many different nuances and an even more Canterburian sound) and I am hard pushed on which of the two I prefer at this juncture.

4.4 (rounded down to 4), for this lost relic.

VanderGraafKommandöh | 4/5 |


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