Karkhana are a supergroup from the Middle-East made up of members from Dwarfs Of East Agouza, A-Trio, Konstrukt, Chicago Tentet, Land Of Kush and a few other bands. Among their contemporary and oriental free jazz, western improvised prog rock and electric and acoustic sounds, they are also known to play ‘distorted unrock’, which sounds like a beautiful thing, doesn’t it? Bitter Balls is their latest album.
Vinyl LP £24.10 UNROCKLP015
LP on Unrock.
Well isn’t this a complete beast of a record, wow. ‘Bitter Balls’ is the work of Karkhana, something of a Middle-Eastern jazz supergroup though calling this a jazz record doesn’t come close to doing it justice. This record is a lot. It’s messy and chaotic, it’s noisy and loud. I can’t quite believe it keeps it up through two sides of vinyl, but it really, really does.
We open with some noise and some clattering drums. If someone instructed you to make a racket it wouldn’t sound far off this, but that’s just the intro. After almost five minutes a groove starts to take shape. Guitar plays a descending pattern in the phrygian mode, while bass plays an ascending counterpoint. There’s still a looseness about Karkhana, but it still feels like they have very suddenly, after great effort, brought themselves into focus.
‘Bitter Balls’ next act starts with some slightly unnerving whimpering sounds accompanied by ramshackle free jazz drums before breaking into a quite traditional sounding oud and drum combo. Traditional apart from the high pitched squeal that preempts a transition into something all the more unconventional. Synths and drums and everything else are thrown at the wall, Karkhana have pulled the rug out from under us again. And then they do it again. And again.
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