YOUNG BUT ALREADY CULT RECORDS
KABOOM KARAVAN Hokus Fokus – CD / LP (Miasmah, 2013)
There is a very beautiful passage in Mark Fisher’s “Specters of my life” (Minimum Fax, 2019) in which, speaking of hauntology, we think about how artists of the caliber of Basinski, Caretaker, Burial, Ghost Box records, etc. crackle, dust, a distinctive feature of their productions to make us aware of a time that avoids the illusion of presence, of the here now; an attempt to direct the gaze towards something that has now passed and lives only in the memory eaten up along the edges by the rust of oblivion. This is explained by the fact that in the records of the aforementioned artists the sources very often come from tapes, old vinyls and more generally from technologies that have been scrapped for decades. Old and sometimes obscenely poor sounds that have nothing to do with the framed ennobling of the revival but with the floating icons of a time that no longer exists, stains that have soaked the fabric and that will not go away until the millionth wash and rubbing.
The preamble was a must to talk about Kaboom Karavan and his record, which has a rightful place in the vein for the reasons I will illustrate. A bit of history. Behind the project there is only one head, that of the Belgian Bram Bosteels, who according to what he says is maintained in life with the activity of pianist and composer for music for dance, theater and audiovisuals. A first disc released in 2007 in free download for the Mexican label Umor Rex, “Short Walk With Olaf” (then reissued in physical form four years later) which was followed in 2011 by “Barra Barra” disc in which he was joined by a double bass player and a guitarist. And it is precisely from there that a small (indeed, very small) cult for the name started. First, because it was in effect a debut – only digital records are farts in the desert. Second, because it was printed by Miasmah, a jewelry label, in the sense of a label built with elegance and wisdom, not like certain mozzarella-makers who have to go out even when they have nothing really valid on their hands. Far from immediate, like all of Kaboom Karvan’s works, “Barra Barra” is a work crossed by atmospheric currents that are a bit dreamy and a bit cemetery, like in those horror films of the seventies in which the protagonist at a certain point he falls into a trance and whispered half sentences begin to arrive at him, making the boundary between reality and supernatural event / other porous. Some distant echoes of chamber music, pre-war blues, as well as the most stringent music to accompany images but all oversized, brutally collagistic, without being there to refine or want to give a skeleton. The cover image, an owl on squared paper, complete with a blackened head that looks like the hood of an executioner, is well suited to the music of which it is placed as a seal.
And equally representative is the cover of the next album, “Hokus Fokus” again for the same brand in 2013, which portrays a half-alien half-superhero with a cape and a stick in his hand (whether it’s a giant candy or a traffic signal I don’t know), caught letting his legs dangle inside a hole in the ground like a toddler. An image, surreal, sinister, but perfectly immersed in reality, which I perceive as an invitation to enter and measure oneself with the unknown hidden there. The beginning is rarefied, introverted, almost as if the music came unwillingly and is a bit like the prism of a suffused neoclassic that is thought, a prism that receives and breaks up the ray causing crazy dazzles that force you to keep your eyes slit (” Kolik “). Also in this work the guitar plucked in the moods & smells of the Delta blues with winds of the consistency of the breath of wind (“Omsk”) returns, a game that then continues immediately after, but with melancholy agglutinations and unintelligible voices crushed by the force of gravity (” KipKap “). The feeling is that of falling. What better way then to celebrate the fall than by starting chamber music as threadbare as a kitchen rag? (“Lovzar”). The sweet melody of a moment ago, which you must always imagine creaking and ghostly like a strip of old parquet, is followed by perhaps the darkest thing, engulfed in veils of the disc, with sounds in perpetual aquatic fibrillation (“Kartoon Kannibal” ). Another faded out-folk fresco in synergy with rhythm and trumpets in the distance in tangle, which could belong to the repertoire of Heaven And (“Barbaroi”), and to follow a toy sketch of a minute and a half (“En Avant!). After two strategic pieces to the flow of listening, also for their placement in the lineup here, at the bottom of to the disc: the dissolutive nature of a demonic popular music, played in soft and irregular forms like clouds in transit (“The A Theme”), and a blues-exotica suspended in invisible threads that Mike Cooper would like (“Sardonis”) . Then the coda, the concluding piece (“Miss Okee”), which plays by detaching itself from the rest and hastening the pace towards the thick of the swallowing fog. You are left with a strange feeling after this last track. There are two situations that when I listen to each other in my head: an image that has fallen out of the world scene, like an everyday element in an alien space of a surrealist painting; and a wiper blade that drags a line of dirt back and forth. You could spend other words for this record and also for the previous ones, which are a bit lower but always very beautiful. But space requires me to stop. I hope that your curiosity has sprung up and that you listen to the record giving it time to settle in you – if you have to play it while you are doing anything else you should let it go, it would be useless. Wounded beauty and the mark of time are the cornerstones of this extraordinary artist and of this work in particular. Hinges that creak, of course, awakening us from the sleeping life in the daily tram-tram.