San Kazakgascar


This record has crept under my skin over the past few weeks, an amalgam of Eastern-oriented folk forms, psychedelic jazz, and heady excursions into soundtrack psych. The band picks up on some of the less caustic visions of Sun City Girls and weaves them through divergent journeys that touch the darkness of Steven R. Smth’s various alter egos and the move towards the more fragrant skronk of Sunwatchers or Rangda. The album arcs from chilled alleyways, and ominous atmospheres to a slinking, lascivious second half. Therein lies the parallel with Smith’s work, who has felt like one of the most cinematic voices outside of modern Library emulators and those crafting soundtracks. San Kazakgascar know how to create and arc, and from the moment Too Many People begins, the listener is dropped into a world filled with secret passageways of sound and trap-door dynamics.

The sun-washed opener, “Heart of Dusk,” gives little indication of the journey that the listener is about to embark upon. Flutes and yawning passages that are quickly submerged into a nighttime drape of shadows and subterfuge. The album’s balance of pastoral touches, tense, fevered passages, and a flutter of jazz that’s more menacing than celebratory, makes it rife for repeated listens. The listener is spun ‘round by the end of Too Many People, left breathless and scrambling to remember where we began. I’m drawn again and again to the album’s latter half, pulsating with rhythms and a freer scorch in the guitars, but without the anxious entrance to the later songs, its hard to imagine the release of the “Slimester Slickster,” “Motorcade For The Prince,” “Vet’s Day at the Dining Room Table” feeling like such a relief. The band ends right back in the arms of the outdoors, tacking into the Popul Vuh territory, but being careful not to let the listener relax too deep. San Kazakgascar’s been working towards these peaks over the last few albums but with Too Many People, they’ve certainly perfected the formula.

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