An album by a frequent Kreng collaborator, mastered by Nils Frahm? Forget dragons, locusts and blood, the apocalypse has officially arrived. On a less important note, Frahm has just cemented his status as the Kevin Bacon of instrumental music. Combine this with the invitation from Belgium’s Bram Bosteels (Kaboom Karavan) to sing along with the first single, and one realizes that this is going to be one of the most original and oddly (make that very oddly) experimental albums of the year. Doh doh doh doh doh doh. I’m trying to sing along. Is that really a slowed-down Tom Waits, or was that just a press metaphor? If so, it was a good one.
While Hokus Fokus is already the second disc of the season (on the heels of Deathrowradio’s Yummy) to reference Focus’ “Hocus Pocus”, it’s the first one to do so intentionally (or so we believe). That progressive track was primarily instrumental, save for the yodeling, which fits in nicely with Kaboom Karavan’s eclectic approach. What is that morose, yet grinning creature on the front cover, who appears to have an ear trumpet, a cape and a didgeridoo? He’s scary, yet fun, a lot like the album, which contains multiple access points, unlike Bosteels’ 2011 album, Barra Barra. Easy enough to fall in, but how deep does that hole go? And can one get out?
At various points on the disc, we hear saxophone, kazoo (or demented flute), parrots, monkeys (we’re only guessing here), old records, static charges, and the sound of laughter (does anybody remember laughter?). Someone’s having us on, and we love it. This is the sort of album that spoils us for other albums, because we know that after we listen, we’re going to have to return to a less creative world. How did Alice feel when she returned from Wonderland? Or the children who crawled through the cupboard? First charged, then melancholic, and finally bored. Bosteels wants us to do a jig, walk a tightrope, hop a train. The world is bigger, more mysterious, and more fun than what we know. Five tracks later, I’m still trying to sing along. Badoom, badoom. Rhymes with kaboom. Coincidence?
“KipKap” may be a single, but for whom? For those who follow the night circus. For the magician’s assistant, who really shouldn’t touch that – oh, too late. Now we’ll need another assistant. The guy with the didgeridoo looks available. Or perhaps he’s used some flypaper to catch the sounds of the orchestra tuning, then rolled it up and disguised it with candy cane paint. One would never suspect. Hokus fokus ~ listen carefully and you can still hear those elusive notes, struggling to escape. You must admit, it’s a clever way to capture them, traveling at 340 m/s. The drum rolls are quick, but the caped creature is even quicker. He knows he’s a superhero, and perhaps that’s why he’s grinning. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 30 August