“Aadi”, the first track on the album, sways the mood to soft tones meant for easy listening on a lazy sunny day. A slightly distorted guitar leaves patches of harmonic melody with the soft bass riff, being subsequently accompanied by acoustic guitars, giving this track sounds similar to Warren Mendonsa’s work on Blackstratblues.
“Fears Mysteries” starts puffing away with an intro consisting of samples of temple chants and church bells, all silenced by Conch Shell. It then proceeds into tempos journeying through tribal drums and dark frenzied guitars. At this juncture I must mention, the band takes its name from the Malayalam word 'Kaavu', referring to the traditional shrines, forests where many folk stories and art forms like ‘Theyyam’, ‘Koodiyattam’ etc. originated. Fears, mysteries, superstitions, religion and spirituality were always associated with Kaav which is also the meeting place of the human psyche. I enjoyed the drama on the track which at certain points reminded me of the Polish Progressive Metal band, Indukti on the track “Ninth Wave”.
In my opinion, “Kaalichan”, the third track on the album, fits into the typical Kaav sound space that belts out a groovy guitar lick with a Carnatic influence that truly reveals itself at the breakdown. The track finally transcends into aggressive distorted riffs and crosses over to the deafening roars of elephants and drums from a temple festival which fades away into silence soon.
“Thee” (Fire), released as the first single, blazes out as the fourth track on the album. The video pays tribute to avant-garde film maker John Abraham and contains snippets from his cult movie, Amma Ariyan. According to Kaav, “Thee represents the inner fire or the inner strength of humans that gets unleashed in different ways”. I felt that the band sounded like an indigenous version of the Progressive Rock band, The Mars Volta at various points on this track with flying time signatures and blistering drum rolls. The track is finally laid to rest with dying electric guitar squeals that sound very similar to the works of Omar Rodrigues-Lopez and ... a burp?
The fifth track on the album, “Sulthan” begins with a panning intro of horses galloping past the listener. It strides forward into a delirious distortion resonating in the presence of a darkly lingering bassline and subsequently, fades into acoustic guitars that exude majestic footprints of “Sulthan”.
“Rhapsody Of Rains”, the title track of the album is what follows next, and looking back at what I’ve been listening to so far; Kaav has been holding out a distinctive sound in every track despite the different environments and genres whizzing past. The sixth track brews up a rainstorm over looming guitars that progressively moves into that typical Kaav sound I had mentioned. I enjoyed the track particularly more because I was able to relate to the sound the band was attempting to recreate influenced by the downpours in Kerala. The ambience brought out by this track was perfectly simulated by the piercing rains in the chilly monsoon air outside my window. The “Rhapsody Of Rains” is a progressive track that picks up emotions along the way.
Track number seven: “Vida” sounds very much like the acoustic Opeth on "Blackwater Park". It slips into an eerie breakdown consisting of what sounds like devotional singing tracked later with samples from a Priest’s sermon in Malayalam on Revelation 20 (referring to a nameless angel who came down from the heavens, holding the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand to bind Satan). The track seemed to progress to very Mars Volta-ish sounds towards the fag end of this track.
The concluding track, “Tripping Shanti” carves itself as a slow tempo Instrumental that borders on contemporary Post-Rock and burns itself into oblivion with shades of Carnatic and Blues. With odes to nature, tales of local folklore and frenzied guitars dipped in psychedelic fuzz-wah packed in for fillers, the record ended just as it had begun - lighthearted and mellow. The sounds progressed from melodic instrumental guitar (on "Aadi" and "Tripping Shanthi") to dark Progressive Rock (on "Sulthan" and "Fears Mysteries") and crosses over to Post-Rock structures in between. The unique signature Kaav leaves behind in its music is the sometimes groovy-sometimes gloomy Folk-inspired leads (on "Kaalichan", "Thee" and "Rhapsody Of Rains") thrown in together with time signatures alternating on Progressive Rock, Jazz and Blues inspired jams. This record is a real story-teller if you’ve got a patient ear.
What appealed to me most about Kaav is its kaleidoscopic sound encompassing sounds from a variety of my favourite artists; The electric Mars Volta-like frenzy with a wavering song structure, the haunting Opeth-like atmosphere, Hendrix’s Blues-inspired fuzz-wah effects, the tranquil if these trees could talk-like instrumentals and, the Indukti and Isis-like violent Post-Rock riffing, all stand testimony to the fluidity of the band. Kaav is all this, accompanied by a distinct classical signature it has begun to leave behind as its very own.