Review: Kanaan ‘Downpour’

I was lucky enough to spend some time writing up Kanaan’s 2021 release Earthbound, which proved to be an exhilarating piece of work, spanning much of the sounds of the heady-heavy underground. Back with another high-quality set of recordings, they begin Downpour with that same sense of exhilaration, digging straight into a huge roller of a riff, and indeed, were the subsequent seven tracks to stick to mining that same mega fuzz, this album would gather more than enough praise from happy rockers.

Kanaan 'Downpour'
Kanaan ‘Downpour’ Artwork

However, Kanaan are looking to open up their own space in the language and apply their jazz-informed approach to make Euro-desert grooves a platform for deeper exploration. They will always find space for a little more rhythmic nuance than might be apparent at first glance and they’re not afraid to indulge in a skittery drift that could at once be from the back end of Electric Ladyland or a serious-browed jazz club set. This confident exchange of voices gives Downpour a broad scope to be at times calm or jittery, swinging from mellow headwork to dug-in nods, and given license to catch fire into full cosmic freak-out ecstasy.

The breathless opening of the record finds a brief lull in Psunspot before Orbit brings things back together with another massive hook, suggesting a side A/side B shape to the album shape – both halves starting with a big party riff followed by more exploratory music. The A side takes this in a wild jazzy direction, while the two parts of Solaris let Kanaan find a calmer and more expansive path. Yet even in the ‘straight stoner banger’ Kanaan push against the burl with a tambourine and a broader palette of sounds.

Downpour is fun, but never mindless, and challenges the listener with its balance of spontaneous freedom and considered songwriting…

Looking back towards Earthbound from here, Kanaan have shown a restless and confident spirit, prioritising the creative work of music-making and pushing always to grow. Downpour is fun, but never mindless, and challenges the listener with its balance of spontaneous freedom and considered songwriting.

Listening to it now with the sky clear blue outside, this album is laying strong claim to the sound of the summer but should reach further than that brief window thanks to Kanaan’s bold repurposing of the shared musical language laid down by bands (Sungrazer, The Machine, Dozer et al) of the generation before.

Label: Jansen Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Harry Holmes