One of the most liberating feelings, for a music artist, it must surely arrive when you are able to express yourself without being labeled to a genre or a style of music, something not easy to achieve, in the contemporary music industry for virtually anybody, especially considering record labels' contractual strings and obligations to fans that make challenging, for any musical project, to be able to go free-form and let the music flow without constrictions.


There are, though and rather fortunately, some artists or projects that refuse to adhere to genre-related clichés. One of these projects is called Kalaha, a collective made by Danish musicians that, since 2013, have carried in their body of work the idea that music can travel on different wave lengths without losing its identity, something that transpires very clearly and rather beautifully in their new album, called Nord Havn.

Kalaha, a project that includes, as band members, Nicholas Knudsen on guitars, Anders Stig Møller on bass guitars, synths and electronics, Emil De Waal on drums, vocals and percussion and Jens "Rumpistol" Berents Christiansen on Rhodes, synths, 303 and electronics has cleverly explored, under a sonic format, the transformations that the old industrial harbour of the city of Copenhagen (Nord Havn) has gone through, by putting together nine instrumental tracks that carry within almost a cinematic feeling about them, between the urban sound samples that emerge in many of the album's pieces and the extraordinary musical melting pot that the Danish quartet has been able to build and infuse on this rather inspired record.


The Danish quartet is not new to change of directions, in their music, as also proved by their previous 2022 record called Tutku, a very enthralling album celebrating the sonic landscape of Turkish music in the 70's. 


Nord Havn, in many respects, feels like a very heartfelt soundtrack that reflects the changes happening perhaps not only in a buzzing city like Copenhagen but in many other parts of the world too, using their own capital city as a point of reference, seen by those that live and breath those architectural changes on their own skin every day, like Kalaha's band members most likely do.


For some, it may sound strange or even uncool that music tempos like Ambient, Techno, Electronica, uptempo Desert Blues, Pop, Funk, Psychedelia, Jazz and Latin Rock can live together on the same album, with some of them even coexisting on the same tune, but the reality is that they all work exceptionally well altogether and in great harmony.


De Waal's drumming is often both irresistible and imaginative, especially on tracks like the album's opener CiklideKaj, or Bolværksmatrosens Blues and even the record's title-track; Møller provides, especially on bass guitar, some truly powerful musicianship on tunes like Norsk Fars and Tunnelfabrik, amongst others; Christiansen is as unpredictable as he is musically very creative, particularly in moments of the album like HavneFrode, Nordiske Fier and Tunnelfabrik, while Knudsen provides a solid, masterful and eclectic wall of sound on the whole of Nord Havn, with some very highly inspired moments of musicianship on pieces like Sara Banderole, CiklideKaj and Bolværksmatrosens Blues.


The closing track of Nord Havn, called Bjergmokka, is where the most shiny and flamboyant musical fireworks take place. The whole collective let loose in a potent Rock tune where the swagger and explosive free-form power of Kalaha shine in all their beauty, thanks to a marvelous apotheosis of improvisational layers of sound that sees the band's enormous talent showcased rather marvelously.


Inventive, enigmatic, wonderfully conceived and at times, even sentimental, Nord Havn is the impressive new record of a band like Kalaha that has got the rare capacity and talent to merge music genres with effortless capacity, creating, at the same time, musical vignettes of great sonic and emotional impact. A greatly inspired record. 




Nord Havn is out now and can be purchased via April Records/Bandcamp