A German philosopher, an Austrian psycho analyst, and a Czech author enter a bar... Sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it perhaps describes the naming of a Spanish progressive rock group too... Kant Freud Kafka (KFK) is a progressive rock project of Javi Herrera, a drummer, singer, and composer from the Spanish city of Barcelona. If I have understood the project's biography well, Historias Del Acantilado is the third album. Their debut, No Tengas Miedo, was recorded in 2014. However, it originated in the late 1980s and showed wide influences and a varied instrumentation of both rock instruments and more classical instruments. The second album, Onírico from 2017 explored the world of dreams. A 2019 live version of the second album was recorded and is planned for a future release, Onírico Live.
But first, here is KFK's third studio album, and my first encounter with their music. As many recent albums, this is KFK's “lockdown”-album which the band themselves characterise as relatively dark due to the circumstances it was recorded under, and we all lived in.
The core of KFK seems to be a trio of Javi Herrera (vocals, drums, percussion, VST instruments), Alia Herrera (vocals) and Dani Fernandez (bass), but no-one could guess that from their sound. from their name, I somehow expected jazz-rock, but instead the music brings quite dense symphonic music, recorded with many guest musicians, that is often a bit on the Avant-side, yet not too much. Let's have a listen.
Unlike what one might expect, opener Voz De Metal isn't metal either. Instead, the album opens with string and wind instruments in a very classical manner. It takes over 3 minutes before the (male) lead vocals set in. Also, these are more classical music than any form of rock. Calm, a bit theatrical (but not too much), and not as harsh as Spanish singing tends to be (which is a BIG plus for me). After a minute or so, the female lead vocals join in, and I clearly get the feeling that the lady is a classically trained (opera) singer too. Suddenly drums come in and the mood shifts a bit towards progressive rock although the non-rock instruments still dominate the sound, apart from the flute which takes over the melody. Around 6 and a half minutes organ and bass get a more dominant role, and in the back, I even hear some electric guitars.
Carta de Gaia starts experimental with spoken voice, some plucked guitar and loose percussion that leads into some fine keyboard with gentle female lead vocals. There is a wonderful wandering keyboard part which will touch the heart of every symphonic prog fan!
The album's shortest (and instrumental) piece Conspiranoia is piano-led. The sound is very classical again and I might even detect a pinch of minimal music in the repetitive pattern, at least until the strings set in.
My Baby Just Scares For Me is an absolutely brilliant title and great play of words on the title of the famous Nina Simone song from the late 1950s. With this track it has nothing in common, by the way. Instead, it is a very fine dramatic symphonic prog track that builds up in a great way. I think this may very well be my favourite track and not only because of the title.
The closer El Acantilado is the longest piece, starting again very classical with slow string instruments. Reminds me of romantic modern classical music from the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. Around 4 and a half minutes into the piece, things pick up. Drums, bass, keyboards, and guitars join in, and the sound turns towards progressive rock with a hint of jazz-rock. There is even a hint of progmetal hovering in the background, or perhaps I should rather compare it to the heavier brand of neo progressive rock? Around the 8-and-a-half-minute mark the voices from Javi and Alia return. Cool jazzy instrumental interlude after that with flute and guitars taking turns over a playful rhythm section.
As a whole, this is an album that needs several listening sessions to get into. Give it some tries; it will be worth your while. Kant Freud Kafka sounds ambitious as a name, I think they show this well with their music!
***+ Carsten Busch (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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