Kalandra - 'Beneath the Breaking Waves' EP
After a few days listening solidly to the indie pop charms of Delay Trees (highly recommended if you haven't listened yet), it's probably done me good to listen to something very different. Kalandra's long awaited debut EP 'Beneath the Breaking Waves' has been the perfect choice - partly because it's not quite what I was expecting from the Norwegian band.
For those of you who are new around here, we've featured Kalandra a few times already, they were previously based in the UK, and we all had the pleasure of watching them live when they supported Moddi, which seems rather a long time ago. Now based back in Norway, their 'Beneath the Breaking Waves' EP is a collection of tracks written and recorded over the last 3 years between Liverpool and Norway. And whilst this is a band who I would have 'categorised' previously as folk rock, this EP pushes them in a slightly different direction, as I will try to explain.
After the dark haunting opening of 'Heal My Soul', we are presented with 'Concrete Landscapes', an intense track with uncharacteristic thumping drum beats and some huge dynamic variances which make me think there are some post rock influences at work. But this is also Kalandra far darker than I've heard them before, and actually I like this sound, and the images they construct in my mind through their music. This continues with 'Lullaby', with an epic feel to the song structures, and a huge heavy rock / metal climax, accompanied by vocals that show singer Katrine Stenbekk's world music influences - this is a blisteringly good track, probably the highlight of the EP for me.
'Across the Sea' sees Kalandra in a softer form, with even a sweeping cello to accompany the sound, but it's still written to a significant scale, as if in the midst of frozen landscapes, or even for some Tolkien style fantasy world. Pre-EP single release 'What Do You Know About Love' is probably the most conventional track on the album, and here Katrine Stenbekk's vocals shine through, with a beautiful melody that carries the track through.
OK so maybe a collection of songs such as these, written over such a long period, does make me feel that Kalandra have still been establishing a sound that works for them, experimenting sometimes too, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for a young band. The reality is that 'Beneath the Breaking Waves' is an ambitious and successful debut, written to a cinematic scale, and with an interesting intensity and originality to the song writing. Cleverly combining folk. progressive and post rock, metal and world music influences in to one debut release, Kalandra feel like a close band with all members contributing to their diverse sound, and the prospect of an Album is hugely exciting.
Don't forget Kalandra arrive in the UK this weekend for a short tour to the North of England. See their Facebook page for more details