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Ex Canix - Shaman CD (album) cover

SHAMAN

Ex Canix

 

Krautrock

4.00 | 3 ratings

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TCat
4 stars "Ex Canix" is a Krautrock band playing experimental music from Sweden. Even though the band has mostly been playing together for quite some time, this incarnation called Ex Canix was formed in 2015. Their 2nd album released in July of 2019, is called "Shaman" and it sees the band exploring rhythms and patterns, creating a psych and raga style of mostly improvisational music which gets formed off of rhythms and sounds. Most of their music is also based around opposites: light/dark, earth/space, tension//balance, and so on. "Shaman" is comprised of 9 tracks that span a run time of 41 minutes. The current line up consists of Tjabbe Arnsterus (percussion, hang drum), Boch (electronics, cello, guitar, voice, bass), Lars Hoffsten (drums, percussion) and Hans Bengten (bass). The album is available on vinyl or digitally.

"Juice" begins with the otherworldly sounds of dissonant guitars fading in, quickly replaced with percussion, hazy, wordless vocalizations and a layer of effects. Everything remains seemingly on the border of reality, nothing is in focus as sounds and instruments swirl around, lead mostly by tense guitar sounds. "Nights'n'Days" brings in a steadier rhythm. This is underlayed again by incoherent vocals starting in a very low register and then layered with another mid-range vocal line. Percussion drives the track forward at first for a while, and then synths and guitars come in with non-melodic improvisation. Psychedelic effects are spread throughout as the vocals and organ play dreamily along and the percussion keeps everything anchored. "Meeting at CO" has a much lighter and subtle percussion and a synth induced drone flows in and out like waves. Spooky vocals moan softly as it goes along and occasional chords are struck on the guitar. This track has a more ambient vibe to it and vague raga reflections that will soothe your head.

"When the World Breaks" begins with a more distinct rhythm tapped out on cymbals and then joined with hand drums. Guitars provide a heavier layer in this track and they are soon replaced with more hazy vocals, but with more discernable lyrics and melody this time. The guitar line that keeps appearing seems to reflect the riff from "When the Levee Breaks" in Led Zeppelin's cover, but it is altered quite a bit so that only the bare bones of it resembles the riff. The lyrics seem to come from that song also. It quite a nice alternative switch up for that classic tune. "Void?" is a short, atmospheric track with whispered vocals and various improvised percussive sounds and layered effects. "Triburius Ultra (Hats Off to Figrin D'An)" is quickly established by a distinct bass line and soft percussion. Soft, exploratory synth chords play in the background. The guitar plays a mesmerizing, yet psychedelic line generated from sustained chords and effects helped along by interesting synth sounds. Again, haziness and unclarity rules through the track making it easy to access the different layers that are whirling around.

"Nebel" begins with a raga drone style and hesitant tonal percussion that provides an occasionally appearing pattern with tempo and melodic variations. This one remains on the ambient side with no real apparent rhythm. Processed sounds and effects keep everything sounding mysterious. Very nice. "Raga Muffin" is the longest track on the album at over 7 minutes. A soft, repeating synth pattern anchors the track and soon, soft percussion bring in a moderately slow rhythm. Otherworldly guitar feedback give it all a spacey vibe as the heaviest sound in the track are cymbal crashes. It all floats along in a blissful, trance-like atmosphere. Past the half-way point, the rhythm stops and we are left with floating instruments, but it soon returns before it can wander off too far. High pitched wordless vocals are also in the mix, but sometimes hard to pick out until the end. "Out of the Can" quickly establishes a rhythm with a steady, rhythmic pattern. Guitars and synths provide meandering improvisations that build in intensity as it all continues. Again, there is not much to focus on at first, but the guitar becomes louder and heavier as it goes on. This drops off after a while, and it all continues with a chaotic sound that finally buries the steady rhythm.

This album is very well produced, yet quite effectively made to evoke that unfocused feel that generates a very trance-like sound. However, buried in the tracks are unique sounds and effects, patterns and music that make each track unique and variable. The overall feel is a psychedelic sound that is very experimental, and it does mash a lot of different styles together to create the spacey vibe that overrules everything else. It can be difficult to nail down exactly one style here, but the method of not focusing on any one sound lets you choose which line you want to follow in the layers of music. However, even in it's unfocused nature, which in the case of this album is an interesting benefit, this album is still very enjoyable and immersive, never really boring as most of the tracks stay around the 4 minute mark, so this creates an album that is not only effective for background or meditative music, but also has a high entertainment aspect so that it can also be heard just for the sake of listening. This is easily a 4 star album full of great spacey and psychedelic music and a lot of interesting experimental sections and still have space to add in some ambient tracks too. Very well done!

TCat | 4/5 |

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