Let's get this out in the open right away-Kraan's first studio recording in many, many years is not a return to the fiery, brazen, progressive funky fusion of the 70's. No, you'll not hear rave-ups like on the classic Andy Nogger, nor amazing jazz-rock as on Tournee. The new CD, Through, shows the band has matured, mellowed, and grown older with the times, and after a few spins the initial dissapointment wears off of not experiencing similar musical pleasures as on their past albums. Instead we get an older, wiser, and more sophisticated Kraan, and that's a pretty good thing.
Always one of the more popular of the German progressive scene, Kraan were virtuoso's who also managed to have a great time with their music. This is very evident throughout Through. Gone are much of the complex time signatures and furious solos of yesterday, replaced with jazzy undertones, soothing vocals, tight arrangements, and infectious melodies. "Unser Lied" kicks things off with groovy, delayed guitar lines, gentle electric piano, and melodic funky bass from Hellmut Hattler. Keyboard player Ingo Bishof throws in a flighty synth solo, injecting some serious prog in this otherwise intelligent contemporary jazz tune. The moody "Solemn Sundown" follows, a laid back track featuring dreamy vocals and Wes Montgomery style guitar work from Peter Wolbrandt, as well as a nice beat from drummer Jan Fride. This tune would find a perfect home here in the US on the so-called "smooth jazz" radio stations. The endearing "Run Sonny Run" is another vocal piece with a great melody line and a catchy chorus, highlighted by Bischof's bright synth lines, while "Slomocean" is a dark and somber instrumental with layers of guitar and bass tones from Wolbrandt and Hattler. "Soul Keeper" is a whale-of-a-good-time, featuring one of the most catchy melodies this band has ever written. Wolbrandt sings the main verse with restrained fire- "You've been around the world with me, from devotee to disagree, now you don't even talk to me-you soul keeper." Fans of Hattler's amazing bass skills will revel in his virtouso ramblings as he runs circles underneath the bubbling synth solo from Bischof mid-way through this energetic tune.
"Urlaubsmusik" is a short funk/jazz instrumental, with lots of effects laden wah-wah guitars, while the last vocal piece, "Now What (arewegonnado)" is a spacey, dreamy song that is kind of a cross between Pink Floyd and Funkadelic with some meaty bass and wild synth thrown in for good measure. The rhythmic workout of "Moxx" allows Fride to go off with some serious percussion chops, as well as give Wolbrandt a chance to drop in some tasty guitar solos. The almost 8-minute title track closes off this set, combining all the styles together in one effective instrumental gem. The bass and drums really groove, the keys and guitars are spacey, the arrangements breezy, and the solos melodic and tasty.
So, welcome in a new chapter in the Kraan legacy. Through is an enjoyable listen, a new direction for the band, and proof that no matter what the category, they can still write great music.