Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kadavar Comes Back With Abra Magic

There is something unmistakably warm and authentic about the sophomore album from Kadavar, the follow up to their eponymous debut last year. Although some of the deep textures that heralded a return to the riff-driven, doom-like appeal of psychedelic rock are different, Abra Kadavar has a handmade feel.

Even the word handmade sounds right. The album was cut over the short course of two weeks around mid-December, with everything except the vocals and a handful of guitar solos laid down live by the trio from Berlin. So expect a few forgivable rough edges that will improve during live performances.

"We've tried to capture more of our live energy, which is why we've recorded almost everything together in one room with the amps turned up to the max," says Ted "Tiger" Tinski. "The songs are more diversified, the ideas feel more spontaneous."

Abra Kadavar almost plays like two EPs stitched together. 

The top half of the album plays like most people would expect from Kadavar, except with a crispness that the band says is closer to their stage sound. The effect leaves off a little meatiness but is no less addictive as Come Back Life eases everyone into the album.

Although written months before the video, Come Back Life foreshadowed the band's ill-fated adventures across the United States in March. Their baggage was lost, there was no room in Austin when they arrived for SXSW, and the '64 Ford Galaxie they bought to get around blew up.

The laid back road track fits while giving up the first glimpse of how psychedelic rock can sound. Christoph "Lupus" (formally 'Wolf') Lindemann effortlessly lands the vocals, unencumbered by any distractions since he had already recorded his guitar work and bassist Javier Mammut is right on the mark in giving Kadavar its signature sound.

The second track, Doomsday Machine, kicks up the tempo  with a tenacious and straightforward rocker. It's one of the best tracks on the album, not for breaking any new ground but for remaining grounded in a classic groove. Even the concepts are classic. It was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.

The next two tracks progress in a similar fashion, tripping along into the bristling Eye Of The Storm and bluesy Black Snake before the album takes a progressive turn. Dust and Fire are deceptively straightforward as the band transitions to psychedelic space rock with Liquid Dream introducing the organ.

Rhythm For Endless Minds keeps the organ swirls and the band drops in some distorts on Lindemann's vocals, to an otherworldly effect. While the album feels finished on the magical Abra Kadavar, The Man I Shot provides an epilogue of sorts with a stripped back and readily raw composition. The tenth track also carries a seven-minute plus time stamp, which is more than enough time to get lost inside it. 

Abra Kadavar By Kadavar Casts A Spell At 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Kadavar does one better than retro rock by making progressive rock thrive with a vintage vibe. While there are some obvious nods to the era, the Berlin trio never feel like they are trying to recreate something as much as they are just making music. What's even more promising is the album feels like Kadavar is just getting started. 

You can find Abra Kadavar on Amazon. The vinyl LP can be ordered from Barnes & Noble or download the digital album from iTunes. The tenth track is only available with the purchase of an entire album, but that is how Kadavar plays best anyway — with every track stacked back to back. Better yet, see them live.
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