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Kashmir - No Balance Palace




Danish band Kashmir is to Scandinavia, what Powderfinger is to Australia… only cooler. The band has toured the world with the likes of the Foo Fighters and our own Something For Kate, had guest appearances on their albums by David Bowie and Lou Reed, and have been compared to Radiohead and Pink Floyd. What they haven't done is break it here in Australia. I'm hoping that will change.

  

Kashmir have just released No Balance Palace, a brilliantly haunting and rocking fifth record by these Danish lads. Their sound is a unique blend of progressive and pop rock, skilfully landscaped to showcase the gut-wrenching vocals of front-man Kasper Eistrup. He himself is somewhat of an icon back home, referred to as ‘Denmark's greatest singer' in artsy scarf-wearing European circles. And rightly so. Eistrup's lyrics (all in English – his second language) are delivered with an honesty that can be disarmingly intimate.

  

No Balance Palace opens with the moody Kalifornia (not about the US state – unlike every second Red Hot Chili Peppers song), and sets the theme of tragic beauty that follows. The Cure-esque Jewel Drop delivers a dreamy tale of lost love, brilliantly sorrowful in its subtlety and remorse. But it isn't all woe and misery. The first single, The Curse of Being a Girl is a poppy and playful track, with tongue-in-cheek observations of dinner table cat-fights and the role of the male of the species.

  

Then the first of two guest appearances… Cynic, a duet with David Bowie, is simply ‘cool'. It probably should have been the first single solely based on the fact it has one of the best film-clips I have ever scene, which was actually directed by the Eistrup himself. And it's exciting to hear Bowie doing something so fresh. Rich guitar tones and that classic Bowie vocal, I'm literally drooling all over myself just thinking about it... I really do need to see a doctor about that.

  

It is almost like No Balance Palace was track-listed in two halves, which could also be said about their last two albums, Zitilites (pronounced ‘city lights') and The Good Life. More progressive and experimental, the second half of No Balance Palace sees Kashmir unleash their smothered Danish fury in layered waves of perfection. Tracks like Ether come along very rarely, and it is a shame. Outright, it is one of the best songs I have been lucky enough to discover. Similarly, Black Building is also a hidden jewel worth seeking out, if only to hear Lou Reed's husky tones read Eistrup's abstract poetry to equally abstract soundscapes. Classic.

  

All in all, Kashmir are a bloody great band, and do nothing by halves, at a time when doing things by halves is bigger than ever (i.e. White Stripes etc). While researching the band I discovered a documentary about them and their adventures making the previous album. Watching on as they politely quarrelled with each other about the slightest differences in arrangements and melody to achieve that ultimate sound, it dawned on me why every note sounds so damn beautiful. They are methodical. And the end result, this time around, is a haunting and brilliant record.

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