It would be foolish not to think that most of the best music contains at least an element of sadness or melancholy. Yet whilst some artists hint at it, others are engulfed by it. With this thought in mind, we are introduced to Kaninchen, a Cornwall-based duo who perform a potent mix of spoken word, folk, samples and visual art. Assessed as a standalone EP, ‘Broke Up’ is an aural document of almost suffocating darkness.
The mood is inescapably bleak and yet the sadness is often beautifully delivered too just as on the opening, wordless ‘Laying In Bed And Wondering’. Yet from ‘Do You Love Me’ onwards we hear narration documenting the despair of a one-sided relationship, the female desperately clinging on whilst the male is disaffected and non-committal, regretting what used to be just a casual relationship. On ‘Everytime You Leave’, thunder and lightning and strummed guitar (apparently recorded in a toilet) accompany a separate recording of a mournful singer from a derelict building several miles away, perhaps evoking the distance which now exists between the couple. (‘The Last’) is based on an audio sample from the Judica-Cordiglia brothers who supposedly recorded failed Soviet space flight mission in the early 1960’s. Whether genuine or not, the feeling of panic and helplessness set to minimalist ambient music is striking and disturbing. Continuing the space theme, ‘Man On The Moon’ asks “When were we last happy?” before the track signs off with an intense bout of acoustic guitar and post-rock noise as the narrator utters his final words “and I looked out, saw no-one and began a desolate scream”. It’s a chilling and highly effective ending.
In fact everything about this EP is chilling and effective. Imagine bands like Hood or Piano Magic at their absolute lowest ebb and you might get close and even though the listening experience only lasts sixteen minutes, it would be hard to withstand any more of the feelings of utter despair captured in these five pieces of music. One can only imagine members of their audience being overcome with grief or shivering with fear. That said, for those who have the strength, ‘Broke Up’ has much to recommend it. It is undeniably compelling, fascinating, provocative and challenging; staying true to its experimental roots which is surely the whole point of Kaninchen’s endeavours.
Piano Magic, Hood