LOST TRACKS : Good CDs We Overlooked This Year

LOST TRACKS : Good CDs We Overlooked This Year

Wednesday, December 28, 2005



It's a rare CD that makes you want to rub sticks together in your back yard, yank off your clothing and howl at the moon while cavorting around a crackling bonfire. Kan'Nal's "Dreamwalker" has that effect.

Started in Guatemala by Tzol, a transplanted vocalist-guitarist from Austin, and lead guitarist Tierro, a Canadian wanderer, this "shamanic rock" group has evolved into a seven-member performance-art beast based in Boulder, Colo.

Kan'Nal's concerts are spectacular: Hypnotic percussion, skull-crushing guitar and buzzing didgeridoo create a spirit-channeling framework for Tzol's primal screams and sensual, son-of-Tarzan vocals. Kan'Nal's two female members -- mesmerizing hippie-chick dancers -- gyrate as if possessed, eyes rolled back, sometimes holding deer antlers to their craniums.

Capturing that madness on disc would seem improbable, but Kan'Nal comes close. "Dreamwalker" is knifed into two visceral halves: six excellent studio tracks (one that's part live) and three longer, sweat-drenched live cuts. The mystical, metallic "Desert Flower" is the heaviest journey, musically and lyrically. While acoustic and electric jungle-trance guitars brew up a storm, Tzol exults: "Shake my bones 'til they shatter! Shake my soul like a rattle!"

If there's a possible criticism, it's that if you've heard one Kan'Nal song, you've sort of heard them all. Not fair. Gorgeous ballads such as "Time" and "All Things Change" showcase a softer dimension of Kan'Nal's sonic palette of earth, wind and fire. But even if you were to accept that gripe . . . MAN, WHAT A SONG.

Tribal-rock blasts such as "Gypsy" and "Iris" plunge a hand into your chest and grab onto the part of your being that swung from trees a few million years ago. Find another band that does that.

-- Michael Deeds


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