In the previous review we did for KAVA, the three-man group from Chicago, featuring music veterans Ryan Behling (bass/vox), Wilson (guitar) and Marshall Greenhouse (percussion/electronics), for their first full length album entitled Shikaakwa, the article closed off like this: “All through Shikaakwa, KAVA plunge into taut blues-rock, ghostly hard-rock, fuzzy bass melodies, cycling electric guitars and other supernatural dirges. In a nutshell it’s dark psychedelic rock that’ll have you checking your calendar to see which year it is. I can’t wait to hear what they do next!”
“Separations” is what they’ve done next. And it is as far removed from Shikaakwa, as chalk is from cheese. Was it worth the wait? Well if you were expecting an extension of Shikaakwa…then the answer of course, is no!
If you were hoping for something a little different from the debut, then the answer is still a mighty no. But even if you wanted something totally different, in your wildest fantasy you could never have imagined an album this different, from KAVA!
My introduction to KAVA was via Shikaakwa, and I totally fell in love with what they were doing there. The band brought back a totally rugged and creative rock sound that I grew up on. A sound few bands accomplish authentically today. So rather selfishly, I was hoping that the sophomore album would have been more of the same. Unfortunately for me, this was not to be, as KAVA clearly intended to experiment and explore another genre…
“Separations” is a soundtrack in search of a movie and something you might expect from Jean Michel Jarre or even Vangelis, without the harmonic string section. This album must be listened to in the dark. Pitch black. Seriously, you don’t want to be distracted as the album conjures up its brooding emotion.
Though very meandering in its overall composition, the music does have a structure; it has melody (though not conventional), texture, timbre and relies on a logical sequence of sounds. For the people who intend using this as background music…don’t, you’ll be missing something. This isn’t background music, it requires attention, so put the book away and turn off the light.
Despite the fact that “Separations” lacks conventional melodies, it is mesmerizing and hypnotizing in the way it embraces riffs and sounds. Probably the only words I would use in common with the previous album, is ‘dark’ and ‘depressing’. KAVA seems to have a heavy black cloud hovering over their studio, of which they have no intention of getting rid of right now! Considering that it is the major artifact in creating that swirling, pulsing, ghostly and evocative aura that purveys this album.
Without describing the tracks in graphic detail, the titles themselves evoke solemn images of the content within. The “Inner Banks Of The Great Sea”, “Tribulations”, “The Wicked Thickens Before Me” and “Katabatic Winds”, being prime examples.
The power of “Separations” lies in its ability to take the listener away to unexplored territories of the mind. The entire journey almost disturbing in nature, as it insistently attacks our alpha and theta brainwave gates.
This is definitely a devastatingly different follow-up to Shikaakwa and paves the way for… lord knows what KAVA will come up with next. If anything, their sophomore offering confirms that they lack neither the courage nor the creativity…wherever they intend going from here!