There is a darkness about Kaboom Karavan that is all enveloping. The Belgian collective have previously worked in theatre, film, and contemporary dance - which explains much of the visceral power their music holds. Still, the sounds they create on Barra Barra, their full-length CD debut, defy easy description. These ten tracks belong to a world of their own.
“Parka” is a good example. Like much of Barra Barra, “Parka” utilizes a powerful drone, while a variety of odd instrumentation drops in and out. The overall feeling is one of walking through a very old and decrepit mine shaft, with debris falling all around you.
As the album deepens, the listener is drawn into even more claustrophobic spaces. “Thyres” and “Not Gone Is Seen” both evoke a feeling of being somewhat trapped in the darker recesses of the mind. Like Coil’s Hellraiser Themes, or something from Lustmord, this “closing in of the walls” only seems to increase as the recording progresses.
Barra Barra is unquestionably cinematic, although it is very difficult to figure out what Hollywood would do with such uncompromising sounds. There is one possibility I discovered quite by accident however. While silently queuing up the classic Aguirre - The Wrath Of God (1972), I did find a possible match for Kaboom Karavan.
As the conquistadors’ initially set out by raft, Karavan’s “Walzer” happened to be playing - and it was a perfect match. Later during the scene, as one of the rafts becomes hopelessly mired in a spiral eddy - the song “Barra Barra” played, and immediately lent itself to this foreshadowing shot of the trip's ultimate futility.
Kaboom Karavan have been compared to early Cabaret Voltaire, Einsturzende Neubauten, and SPK for good reason. Those proto-industrialists were never looking to form a particular musical genre, but they were profoundly interested in forging new directions with their sounds.
With Barra Barra, Kaboom Karavan have done just exactly that. There have been some amazing bands to emerge from Belgium over the years. Kaboom Karavan have shown with Barra Barra that they belong in such heady company.