Kan Wakan were formed in Silverlake, California in 2012. The band name is inspired by the Tagalog word for outer space and from listening to their upcoming album “Moving On”, I can only say the name is so apt in regards to their sound. They are a band I could never pigeon hole as being of one genre, even the label of “alternative” would be reductive in trying to describe the magnificent layered, complex and multidimensional nature of this album. The band was founded by multi-instrumentalist and producer Gueorgui I. Linev who had an extremely ambitious and particular intention in regards to the sound of the band and he has achieved his vision from listening to this accomplished record.
The album opens with the soulful “Forever Found”. The track opens with an epic orchestral introduction and is followed up by a retro bass groove played by Gueorgui I. Linev. This is then complimented by the sultry vocals of Kristianne Batista. My mind was filled of cinematic imagery, Brigitte Bardot in a sports car or Anna Karina and Jean Paul Belmondo on the run. The band’s filmic influences are apparent from the opening of the album. “Forever Found” is a track I could imagine Quentin Tarantino using to open one of his sixties or seventies inspired cult epics. Considering the directors famously tasteful soundtracks, that is a high compliment to Kan Wakan who are themselves a musical love letter to film scores.
“Moving On” is astonishingly eclectic but altogether recognisable as one band. It is very much original while having very classic influences, an impressive achievement. Tracks like “Forever Found” and “Like I Need You” are soulful and epic and could be a Bond theme, a few reviewers have compared Batista’s vocals to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Adele but I believe Kan Wakan have more in common with the likes of trip hop act Portishead just because of their eclectic influences and combination of styles, but as if Portishead were blown up to a huger scale. “Like I Need You” was picked up by HBO who used the track to showcase Spring campaign trailer.
“Space Owl (Cut The Rope)”, “Sawdust” and “Are We Saying Goodbye” manage to take on an electronic jazzy style. The space age theme of the band makes sense in listening to “Moving On”. You are propelled to a place where Batista’s vocals guide you through a beautiful symphony of sounds and the more you listen, the more you sort through the dreamy layers of this music.
Referring again to their cinematic influences, the music alone almost has a narrative and the album is a journey from start to finish. The album was produced by Gueorgui I. Linev and co-produced by Potyondy and Darrell Thorp who has previously worked with Radiohead and Gnarls Barkley. The production is spectacular and hypnotising. Strings were composed and arranged by Gueorgui and performed by the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra conducted by Linev’s uncle Stefan Linev. The album ends with instrumentals Midnight Moon parts I and II.
“Moving On” is a luxurious and sophisticated album and an atmospheric journey that is a joy from start to finish that is both down tempo, epic and soulful all at the same time. This is definitely worth looking into if you are seeking something eclectic and contemporary for your collection.