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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cannibal – s/t (ultra eczema 2017) ****

By Daniel Böker

At the Sonic City festival in Kortrijk in Belgium I bought an album from the band Cannibal. The band consists of Dennis Tyfus, Cameron Jamie and Cary Loren. The first two did a set of 20 minutes at the festival and I was rather impressed by the intensity with which they performed.

On stage it was their voices and some electronic devices to loop and change the things they sang, said and shouted. On the album they are a trio and are more instruments: at the start there is a slide guitar, and in the middle of side A, I believe I hear percussion and flute, though they might be sampled or realized with some kind of electronics. At the center of the two tracks, simply called A and B, the voice is predominant, and electronics and sampling are used to exploit all of the possible sounds.

Track A begins with some guitar tones, no chords just single distorted notes supported by some sampled trumpet sounds after a minute or so. Then, in comes the voice: at first it is just voice, which means there are no words or lyrics to listen to. The voice accompanies the guitar as a very fine match. Single tones screamed into a microphone are changed and distorted after a few moments. As the guitar changes into an undistorted manner, the voice also gets clearer and they (all three of them are vocal artists.) start to tell a little story in a spoken word manner.

During the third part of track A, the musical possibilities of Cannibal come together: the instruments and the electronic sounds are back (as I said in the beginning, there might be some percussion or some sampled percussion and flutes.), the voices sing, shout, speak words and get changed and looped by all the electronic devices Cannibal has at hand.

Track B opens with electronic sounds. Listening to it, it might be based on vocal sounds. They almost create some kind of beat or at least rhythm with these sounds. The voices are the main instruments,  without telling a story in words. This track is the more uneasy track, there is a tension and a restlessness in the music that Track A didn't have. After five minutes the mood changes completely: A kind of piano sound comes in and the voice (again I don't know whose) starts to sing with only a little alienation.

Sounds like from a computer game of the nineties come in and the different voices sing and shout with more changes to them. Again some kind of percussion complements the sound. Change after change. It is not easy to listen to it as a "song". It is rather a kind of live compilation of a lot of different ideas. The listener is often taken by surprise. These changes create the tension I mentioned before. But while listening to it I realized that this tension finds its relief in a kind of humor the music of Track B carries with it.

So especially the second track brings something into the improvised music (and this is what it is - improvised music, recorded live in Brussels) which is, in my opinion rare to find: a solid kind of humor. It is not subtle, it is not just some kind of fine irony (you can find that more often I suppose.) That does by no means say that the music is easy or unintentional. But I found a humor in that music I really enjoyed.

Listening to the music of Cannibal on track B, I almost can see the three of them smile and laugh. Which does not mean that they don't take their art seriously. Because they do. That's what I saw on stage. But there is fun in the different ideas and the surprising turns they take.

Maybe you won't listen to it every day or in every mood. But it is a great album to listen to in a light mood. It is a great album if you are ready for some humor.

Here you can see them at work:

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