Kaura - 'That Which Defines Us' (Self Released) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 05:15

kauraKaura are an LA based progressive edged rock band who have travelled the lands of India, Thailand and Nepal amongst others searching for Eastern instruments and experiences to add and influence their sound and create something maybe a little bit different from the norm. Incorporating these ancient instruments in the music they create their vision has finally been realised.
Formed in 2006 they have opened for Tool and Rob Zombie, released an EP featuring Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) and, following on from recording sessions with Sylvia Massy (Tool/System Of A Down), now give us their debut album 'That Which Defines Us'.


On first listen it's easy to dismiss them as Tool/A Perfect Circle wannabes, the similarities are there to be seen from the off with opener 'Sera Phi' with its regimental drum intro and Maynard-like vocals. The effect ridden guitar lines weave between the drum patterns creating sweet sounds, especially in the mid song breakdown the dreamy layered vocals cast a thin veil over the instrumentation before building again for an epic ending. Its an impressive introduction to the band.


Eastern influences are upfront for 'One Becomes Two', a more commercial sounding, mid-paced and very drum-based track that builds on a backdrop of atmospheric keyboards, but ultimately peaks before reaching that somewhere special. 'Ephemeral Fall' on the other hand is epic and ambitious, with some great instrumentation to take in from the off, it glides along nicely taking the listener on a musical journey; it's one you can just close your eyes and flow with at ease.


The Eastern instruments are most prominent in songs such as 'Silence Speaks Louder' - the unusual sounding percussion, tribal beats and well thought out arrangement make for interesting listening. The vocals of Malcolm Guess compliment the instruments well, sitting somewhere between Maynard James Keenan and Jared Leto is a decent place to be. In fact, Tool and 30 Seconds To Mars are the two bands I hear most in 'That Which Defines Us' along with hints of classic Led Zep going on. It's a heady mixture of old and new that makes for interesting listening. The piano led closer 'A Lament For Change' is a stark, sorrowful song that wraps up the album nicely.


The production is top notch: it's a deep layered album that floats along dreamily, the subtle use of the unusual instruments such as dulcimer, gamelan bells and tribal drums give the album an ethereal feel. On the second half of the album some songs have a tendency to blend in to one another, be overlong and a bit samey, this is the only criticism I have, but what they lack in catchy hooks they make up for in beautiful soundscapes. Lyrically the songs deal in themes of evolution, re-birth and finding yourself, it's all quite spiritual really.


And on a final note, having a bonus hidden track used to be cool and surprising, but these days its just plain annoying. Having to skip through 12 minutes of silence to reach a hidden song generally means it ain't gonna get played much, and it definitely wont make it onto the iPod! The untitled instrumental in a similar style to 'A Lament For Change', maybe that's why it's a hidden track, but it is not an essential part of the album.


Kaura are one of those progressive bands that succesfullly create soundscapes that challenge the listener, that don't bore you to tears and have you reaching for the skip button every other song. There is much to discover and the different sounds appear as if by magic with repeated listens, for it is not an instant album, or an essential album even, but one to immerse yourself in to reap the rewards. 'That Which Defines Us' is an ambitious debut that the band should be proud of, they have the captured the feel of their journey and it is well worth sharing.