Canigou - 'Now'
I'm not going to write too much about the detail in the debut 'Canigou' album 'Now', which was released a week ago. We've written about them twice in the last year and I'm not sure how much more insightful information I will add this time - assuming anything I said previously was insightful. But to remind everyone to start with, Canigou are a 'tiny orchestra' from Sweden who produce a complex array of worldly sounds with dreamy hypnotic rhythms. Originally we featured them when they started their Crowdfundfing appeal, their music was promising but I felt lacked some good technical production, and it's great to see a full length, high quality album that does their music justice.
To highlight a few key tracks from the album, 'Re-motion' 'opens with the simplest of guitar themes repeated over and over, before bass and other synthesised rhythms and vocal harmonies are added on top. The offbeat nature of those rhythms creates the effect similar to constantly shifting sand, or a field of swaying corn as the sound and patterns evolve, it is both entrancing and really effective. We wrote about 'Owl' previously with the lovely trumpet, but the album develops beautifully with 'And Now' opening with a harp and creating an eerie atmosphere similar to the space age sounds by CyberPunk masters (and fellow Swedes) 'Code Elektro'. This is followed by a stunning transition into 'Stars', a track which is a real highlight with the vocal harmonies working at their best, and weaving patterns emerging through the background sounds. 'The Observer' has a mysterious edge to it, and I love the fact that I've sat contemplating 'who' The Observer may be, and what he might be observing - and that I might be reading way too much into the music. Concluding track 'You Dance Inside My Chest, Where No-one Sees You' is simpler in structure, and even has an Indie Dream Pop feel, and not for the first time I'm reminded vocally of the 'Cocteau Twins'.
This is not an easy album to write about, as the complexity of the sounds and personal feelings that it generates simply need to be heard and understood a good few times, rather than you reading my description. It's a lengthy release too, and I've completely given up trying to understand time signatures and how the music is structured. To me this is simply music to get utterly lost in - either to shut the world out, or even better to shut the world in and instead explore what's on the outside of it all. I thought I might find the album too intense if listened to it at length, but actually I find the opposite, the dreamy, hypnotic atmosphere created has a relaxing quality, and the overall effect is uplifting, as well as enchanting.
OK so I often point out when reviewing certain bands that their music might not be for everyone, and in the case of 'Canigou' I can definitely say that 'this won't be everyone'. In a world where everyone seeks instant answers and immediate gratification, Canigou offer complexity, depth and demand patience, and ask too that you find your own answers in their music - but give this time and you will find it has a real quality and substance to it. I hope that future releases will build on this debut and be more expansive still - 'Now' is at its best when using a variety of instruments, tempos and when the sound crescendos and fluctuates dynamically as well as rhythmically, it gives it an extra dimension. And I certainly hope everyone will give this music a fair chance - start again perhaps with 'Owl' or 'And Now / Stars' and let it sink in over a few listens. 'Canigou certainly offer a wonderfully different as well as a beautiful musical perspective, and 'Now' is a real achievement, I hope it gets the attention it deserves.
Nordic Music Review 8/10