Ryan's Karkwa Review
If you listen to enough albums, you'll realize that a lot of them come with certain barriers. Sometimes those barriers come from the musicians themselves, if they've made a really dense or inaccessible album, but usually those barriers come from the listener: you don't like previous work by the artist, or you're not fond of the genre in question, or any of a hundred other reasons. To an extent those barriers are necessary, because there isn't enough time in the day to listen to every song by every artist that comes out, and you have to make decisions on what to listen to and what to skip. If you're not careful, though, those barriers can make you miss something excellent.
Karkwa's Les Chemins de Verre arrived in the review queue this week, with a fairly big barrier in front of it: the album's in French, and I don't speak the language much beyond what I learned in Grade 9 French class. This is a bit compounded by the fact that I'm at heart a lover of lyrics, and so the part of the album I most want to dissect is the one that's inaccessible to me.
Thankfully, though, it doesn't matter. Les Chemins de Verre is a good enough album that it doesn't merely climb over any language barrier you might have, it leaps over it in a single bound. From the opening track, Le pyromane, it's got you, giving you enough to keep listening while leaving enough unsaid that you're hanging on every chord change and transition in the album. From there, we go on a bit of a musical odyssey – through tracks like Marie te pleures, Les Enfants de Beyrouth, and Au-dessus de la tete de Lilijune, Karkwa explores several different genres and styles in a way that shows that they're familiar with all of them, and yet each one still has a distinctive stamp on them – you still know you're listening to a Karkwa song with each one.
It's an album with a lot of layers to it – I've been listening to it all week, and I still feel like I've only scratched the surface with it. And, while it's layered, it's still very accessible – you could jump into it with a single quick listen and still get a lot out of it. But trust me, with that single quick listen, you're going to want to come back for more.
Posted by Ryan, The Polarist Short lList, Friday, August 6, 2010