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KANDAHAR

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Belgium


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Kandahar biography
This group, hailing from Ghent (in Western part of Belgium), played some rather adventurous rock music and formed in 73, and were a cross of jazz-rock with Canterbury influences and sometimes a touch of Zeuhl. They released on their own private label Dwarf two albums, which were quite in the avant-garde progressive rock of the time (sounding a bit like a cross of Placebo, Pazop and Cos), before going broke.

In their heydays, Kandahar was often favourably compared with Supersister, but once they folded due to lack of finances again, leader Karel Bogaert, an engineer, returned to his professional acrtivities in the Far-East, but released a few solo albums. This left Jeff Devisscher at the helm of Kandahar, and they will take time to re-group. After a few years, they managed to release an Ep, than another album, but clearly their moment had gone. None of their albums have ever been re-issued on vinyl or on Cd format until 2009, when Sony did surprise everyone by reissuing the first two albums, making Kandahar records very sought-after for almost two decades.

In the late 80's the group reformed for one album that will fail to bring back the feel of their early days brilliance. Only this album is available, until recently.

:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::





Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
essential Belgian prog



Discography:
- Long live the sliced ham (1974) dwarf LF1
- In the Court of Catherina Squeezer (1975) Dwarf 96846
- Pictures from the Past (1978) GIP 143.026
- Ghent, somewhere in Europe (1991) CBS

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KANDAHAR discography


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KANDAHAR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 8 ratings
Long Live The Sliced Ham
1974
3.96 | 4 ratings
In the Court of Catherina Squeezer
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Pictures from the Past
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
Ghent, somewhere in Europe
1991

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0.00 | 0 ratings
Survivin' Boogie
2005

KANDAHAR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Long Live The Sliced Ham by KANDAHAR album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.66 | 8 ratings

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Long Live The Sliced Ham
Kandahar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Obscure Belgium band's debut album. Very melodic, energetic mix of r'n'b, slightly psychedelic blues-rock and symphonic prog with some jazzy arrangements. This jazzy feeling comes mostly from trumpeter they have in team.

The music is not boring, easy accessible, and contains such elements, as Latin and Eastern folk and Canterbury influence in some moments. From other hand, you will easy hear some pop elements there as well. Deep classic roots and especially drumming remind early zeuhl bands, but differently from them album's atmosphere there is mostly bright, light and very optimistic.

I can hardly name this music jazz-rock, even if there are some brass arrangements. Eclectic prog rock with symphonic, folk, zeuhl and jazz-rock as main components. Not a bad album, but a bit unfocused, cheesy and straight-forward for my taste. Vocals are far from the best as well.

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 In the Court of Catherina Squeezer by KANDAHAR album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.96 | 4 ratings

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In the Court of Catherina Squeezer
Kandahar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Difficult not thinking of Crimson's debut album when citing Kandahar's second album, but it is only a humorous wink art Fripp's gang, rather than a real homage to their music. Indeed the unchanged quintet (the two added windblowers not being permanent players) delivers their second batch of sonic delicacies recorded in the late 75 spring, but they changed a bit the accompanying toppings, giving it a slightly funkier feel, but we're still into delightful jazz-rock with a tad of Kent's county capital. With their suggestive artwork, once again Kandahar proves non-sense humour and surrealism are Belgian trademarks.

The opening Jungle Dreams confirm the funky thing, as we could be out of Philly or Isaac's Hayestack. Indeed the track oozes of De Visscher's funky guitar, Bogard's ultra-symphonic ARP Synth and Power Of Tower horn section. The following Still Have My Soul is probably as much Memphis Tennessee (Stax records) a track they'll go. LA Mood is a horn-laden track, but thankfully does have the funky flavour of the previous tracks. Song For Catherina is as close to being to the title track, and if it wasn't for a cheap-sounding synth line, this might have been one of the album's highlights, even though the last part is sung.

The flipside starts on the slow (at first anyway) Lehti Jumps and hearing that track evolve into a frenzied Colosseum-type track is a pure joy, and it's just too bad that the track ends in a an aborted manner the way it does. The 16-mins Day I Came To Life is obviously the album's highlight and the group's chef d'oeuvre. And they knew it too as they'll even go through the trouble of hiring a string quartet for just one section, but the fact is that evertuy section of that track is pure bliss as it goes from almost baroque (the horn entering the track and repeated later on) to excellent jazz-rock, but plenty of progressive rock just the way we like it. With this epic, Kandahar sounds like themselves and nobody else except for a tad of Quebecois prog between Maneige and Harmonium (the passage with choirs and flute), but I doubt this these groups ever got to Belgian (even Flemish) ears back then. This is their crowning achievement, but it'sc also sad they never kept up the effort, because it's likely they would've done more of these.

After this album, keyboardist Karel Bogard will travel to the eastern Asia and eventually end up in Far- East Asia for a while, studying philosophy before coming back. But he's actually moved over there on a permanent basis for more than two decades. In the meantime, ITCOFCS is a worthy successor to Sliced Ham, and in some ways it easily surpasses the debut album. Should you one day chance upon it, don't hesitate for a second on either the debut or this one.

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 Long Live The Sliced Ham by KANDAHAR album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.66 | 8 ratings

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Long Live The Sliced Ham
Kandahar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Coming from Belgium's fourth city, Ghent, Kandahar chose its name after the third city of Afghanistan, sign of keyboardist & leader Karel Bogard's love of Eastern philosophies, flavours and etc.The quintet, a standard prog quartet plus a wind player, played a pleasant humorous jazz-rock that could be easily related to Canterbury's best moments with the invariable songwriting team of guitarist De Visscher and Bogard reminiscent of Caravan meeting Hatfield. Coming in an orange and pink speed-related futuristic artworks, and humorously titled LLTSH was recorded in November 74 and the group invited many guests to make this album quite a pleasant debut.

Starting on the smooth-gliding instrumental Down At Finckle's, Kandahar has three frontmen to showcase and here Jacky Eddin that gets the early call but De Vusscher's guitar takes a solid revenge just after. The lengthy Eye Of Glass is a striking difference to its fore runner, the group constantly changing tempo and moods, where it was absolutely not the case previously. Here, the hero is bassist Cleays, but Bogard,s songwriting is the key among his keyboards. Influence-wise, Supersister or Hatfield are not far away here. Again an ever-changing tempoed track, Outside Of Reality is a rare sung track where Eddin gets help from guests to boast a very brassy attack. Surviving Boogie is the obvious hit on the album (it was a single twice), but it's clearly the weakest track, developing a fast reedy blues with relatively weak vocals (this is not a strong point of Kandahar, but it's generally not too catastrophic.. Just weak) and gain strong brass section.

The flipside starts on the weird and fast Walkin Piles, but it's mostly the dissonant saxes and flutes in the background of demented percussion passages that draw the attention of the listener. Too bad the beat stays too rigid in its Magma-itude, though. This could've been much better exploited with a better production. Another instrumental beauty is Hobbit, the gentler track on this album, filled with smooth keyboards. The following Fancy Model has a difficult intro, but once the track is settled, it turns into an infernal inferno filled with spiralling swirls of flames filled with fire, and Eddin's blowing buddies are back to let us know that Kandahar was a force to be reckoned with, especially when they all shut up to let drummer Delaruye shows his chops with Cleays, before reprising. Very enthralling and Canterbury- esque. The closing When She Flies Away is not the album's strongest track, and it has a déjà-vu feeling, especially when the vocals kick in, we get to think of Hendrix's Hey Joe.

True the group's weaker vocals might be an embarrassment (to some), but the rest of their music is nearly spotless and certainly the best thing they've done artistically. Their vinyl albums have become rare and expensive and no official Cd reissue. had happened since Sony surprised us with a cheap reissue.

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 Long Live The Sliced Ham by KANDAHAR album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.66 | 8 ratings

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Long Live The Sliced Ham
Kandahar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by VanderGraafKommandöh
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Ghent, somewhere in Europe  by KANDAHAR album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Ghent, somewhere in Europe
Kandahar Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

— First review of this album —
2 stars If Kandahar had made some very interesting records around the mid-70's, they had broken-up partly for being broke financially, but also because they had said everything they had to say. So what pushed Delaruye and De Visscher to reform and do an album over a decade after breaking up? Nostalgia, an order from the local tourism agency, I do not know. But clearly this album is inspired from their hometown, the superb Flemish city of Ghent. Whether it was from an official contract or really a labour of love is rather difficult to answer, but the results are certainly not to expectations and resemble nothing to their brilliant works. What we are dealing with is a New-Agey jazz with synthesised rhythms, rather clumsy (never unpleasant though, but rather pointless, IMHO) elevator-like music. It can also make you think of the scarier releases of ECM - the great jazz-rock label but sometimes awfully close to muzak. Some tracks have medieval-sounding ambiances to evoke the photos and buildings that each track was supposed to represent, others have some JM Jarre at its cheesiest keyboards, etc.. Very deceiving, completely and utterly pointless album. Non representative of their early albums. Best avoided, but unfortunately the only record available from this once inventive group.

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Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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