Kashmir is a Danish band, seriously hyped in Denmark. They get good reviews, and most Danish music lovers count Kashmir as being one of their favourite bands, and everyone knows their music. Possibly, the biggest Danish band around (They haven’t really had an international breakthrough, though). They play alternative rock in the style of Radiohead, but with a distinctive sound, mainly due to Kasper Eistrup’s vocals. They are named after the Led Zeppelin song “Kashmir”, but do not really seem to draw any inspiration from them, on the new albums (Haven’t heard that much of their two first releases, they are very different from their current style, and don’t really sound like their three latter albums) . Allegedly, it was because they had very different tastes in music, but all agreed Kashmir was a good song.
The album was seriously anticipated. Tony Visconti (producer of David Bowie and T. Rex, among others) was going to be the producer, a rumour started circling, that David Bowie himself, megastar and musical icon, would be featured on this album. As a Bowie fan with a liking to Kashmir (I wouldn’t call myself a fan. Not compared to many other Danes at my age, anyway.), this was very interesting; and as if it wasn’t enough, it was later made known that Lou Reed would also be featured on the able, reading a strange poem to dark backing music. It seemed unbelievable, really. Granted, Kashmir are huge in Denmark, but still we are a tiny country of only five million inhabitants, and Kashmir haven’t had that much success internationally. For some reason, Bowie was already familiar with Kashmir’s music. The rumour is that Kasper Eistrup (who has stated that he sees Bowie as a musical icon equalled only by Elvis) sent him an mp3 of ’The Cynic’
and asked him, if he would sing the second verse, and Bowie allegedly replied: “Sure, I would have no problem doing that.” A big day for Kasper, I’m sure.
Their previous album, Zitilites, was great; the best of their career up to this point, and expectations were sky-high. The album came out on the 10th of October, at which time many lined up outside the record stores. The biggest Danish music magazine gave the album 5/6. I didn’t follow the hype and get this right away, though, but since they are one of the most talked-about band in Denmark (including international artists), I felt I had to check it out, even more so because it featured Bowie and Lou Reed.
The album is darker-sounding than most of their other recordings. (After their first two albums, Cruzential
, their style changed significantly, so I am only comparing this album to The Good Life
, the two albums of Kashmir I’m most familiar with.). It’s more noise-rock (Sonic Youth
amongst others) inspired, and there aren’t any bouncy pop-songs like “Big Fresh” on Zitilites, nor any real ballads like the impressive “Lampshade” on The Good Life
. This might be their most serious and introspective album so far. As a result it has less catchiness, than The Good Life
. It makes up for it by being more ambitious and experimental. Living in Denmark, it is rather difficult to rate as an unbiased reviewer. Kashmir are so massive in Denmark, and everybody loves them, but to me they are rather overrated; a good band, surely, but there is much better music out there. It seems a bit close-minded, actually, that so many revere Kashmir to such an extent, instead of listening to music from the outside world.
They’re not that
good, anyway, and far from being my favourite band. As a result of this massive hype, some music fans write off Kashmir entirely, and begin to hate their music (Much like some do with Nirvana, partly due to their popularity). I neither love nor hate them. They are a good band, a good live act, and this album is a step forward for them.
The quartet, under the guidance of Tony Visconti has created an album that most music fans of Denmark have now heard and made their mind up about. The single “The Curse of Being a Girl” was dismissed by many, and it isn’t very good either. It gets repetitive, and the lyrics are rather poor. His voice is somewhat annoying on this particular track, as well. One of the least interesting songs on the album. The album opener “Kalifornia” is a song that flows well, with pleasant guitar lines (Eistrup is a decent guitarist, but far from a virtuoso), and a great chorus. It’s perhaps the most ‘Kashmir’ of all the songs on the album and definitely one of the best. Check this song out, and if you like it, you’ll like most of Kashmir’s stuff. The best song is probably “The Cynic”, featuring Bowie. It’s very different from their usual style, but it works well and has a fantastic chorus. The track featuring Lou Reed, “Black Building”, is eerie, and very fitting of his sombre voice. It’s a short spoken-word track about an empty building, very strange, really. (Kashmir haven’t tried out something like that before). It ends abruptly, as the narrator tells about him and his friend breaking in. The final line leads up to the final track: “An on the right side, I counted seven doors”
The title-track and closer “No Balance Palace” is also the longest song on the album. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s their longest song ever, at 8:03. Another new thing for them. It’s a pretty rocking song, that changes feel halfway through. A minute and a half or so before it ends, it changes into a slow, stripped-down song, a nice way to end the album.
Conclusively, Kashmir are a good band that have put out a good album. It’s not as fantastic as some make it out to be, nor as bad as some others make it out to be. Whether it’s their best album, I’m not sure. Zitilites is probably slightly better, but this album is more ambitious, and probably a more interesting approach to the band, if you are new to their music. I’m going to give it the rating of 3, leaning towards 3,5. I hope some of you choose to check it out.