Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kandahar - 1974 - Long Live the Sliced Ham

Long Live the Sliced Ham

01. Down at the Finckle's (4:28)
02. Eyes of Glass (5:37)
03. Outside of Reality (8:05)
04. Survivin' Boogie (3:20)
05. The Walkin' Piles (4:18)
06. The Hobbit (3:10)
07. The Fancy Model (5:40)
08. When She Flies Away (8:41)

Jeff De Visscher (lead & acoustic guitar, sitar, vocals)
Karel Bogard (piano, clavinet, Davoli & A.R.P."2701" synthezisers, gongs & bells, vocals)
Jean Pierre Claeys (bass)
Etienne Delaruye (drums, glochenspiel, tympani, cello, tambourine, vibes, piano, syntheziser, strings, clavinet, marimba, vocals)

This group, hailing from Ghent (in Western part of Belgium), played some rather adventurous rock music and formed in 73, and were a cross of jazz-rock with Canterbury influences and sometimes a touch of Zeuhl. They released on their own private label Dwarf two albums, which were quite in the avant-garde progressive rock of the time (sounding a bit like a cross of Placebo, Pazop and Cos), before going broke.

In their heydays, Kandahar was often favourably compared with Supersister, but once they folded due to lack of finances again, leader Karel Bogaert, an engineer, returned to his professional acrtivities in the Far-East, but released a few solo albums. This left Jeff Devisscher at the helm of Kandahar, and they will take time to re-group. After a few years, they managed to release an Ep, than another album, but clearly their moment had gone. None of their albums have ever been re-issued on vinyl or on Cd format until 2009, when Sony did surprise everyone by reissuing the first two albums, making Kandahar records very sought-after for almost two decades.

Coming from Belgium's fourth city, Ghent, Kandahar chose its name after the third city of Afghanistan, sign of keyboardist & leader Karel Bogard's love of Eastern philosophies, flavours and etc.The quintet, a standard prog quartet plus a wind player, played a pleasant humorous jazz-rock that could be easily related to Canterbury's best moments with the invariable songwriting team of guitarist De Visscher and Bogard reminiscent of Caravan meeting Hatfield. Coming in an orange and pink speed-related futuristic artworks, and humorously titled LLTSH was recorded in November 74 and the group invited many guests to make this album quite a pleasant debut.
Starting on the smooth-gliding instrumental Down At Finckle's, Kandahar has three frontmen to showcase and here Jacky Eddin that gets the early call but De Vusscher's guitar takes a solid revenge just after. The lengthy Eye Of Glass is a striking difference to its fore runner, the group constantly changing tempo and moods, where it was absolutely not the case previously. Here, the hero is bassist Cleays, but Bogard,s songwriting is the key among his keyboards. Influence-wise, Supersister or Hatfield are not far away here. Again an ever-changing tempoed track, Outside Of Reality is a rare sung track where Eddin gets help from guests to boast a very brassy attack. Surviving Boogie is the obvious hit on the album (it was a single twice), but it's clearly the weakest track, developing a fast reedy blues with relatively weak vocals (this is not a strong point of Kandahar, but it's generally not too catastrophic.. Just weak) and gain strong brass section.

The flipside starts on the weird and fast Walkin Piles, but it's mostly the dissonant saxes and flutes in the background of demented percussion passages that draw the attention of the listener. Too bad the beat stays too rigid in its Magma-itude, though. This could've been much better exploited with a better production. Another instrumental beauty is Hobbit, the gentler track on this album, filled with smooth keyboards. The following Fancy Model has a difficult intro, but once the track is settled, it turns into an infernal inferno filled with spiralling swirls of flames filled with fire, and Eddin's blowing buddies are back to let us know that Kandahar was a force to be reckoned with, especially when they all shut up to let drummer Delaruye shows his chops with Cleays, before reprising. Very enthralling and Canterbury- esque. The closing When She Flies Away is not the album's strongest track, and it has a déjà-vu feeling, especially when the vocals kick in, we get to think of Hendrix's Hey Joe.

True the group's weaker vocals might be an embarrassment (to some), but the rest of their music is nearly spotless and certainly the best thing they've done artistically. Their vinyl albums have become rare and expensive and no official Cd reissue. had happened since Sony surprised us with a cheap reissue.


  1. http://www.filefactory.com/file/5fqi1x11fi3p/2445.rar

  2. You know, based on the covers, I'd have probably passed on all three of these albums - perhaps I did in fact but they're all very good. Thx for the broader perspective!