I watched Kavus’s album launch gig for Hip to the Jag the other evening, beamed alive and grinning from his living room. About 10 minutes in I had to pause it, to get the dinner out of the oven, not something you could do at a real gig – getting an oven on the Tube might be a tad difficult! When I returned to the Interwebs and hit play, there I was sat down, demolishing a huge pile of chile-con-carne, and Kavus was waving an album at the camera. “Anyone got this?” he asked. O yes, indeedy, for it was The Faust Tapes, the best 49p I ever spent, which, being a man of impeccable taste, resides permanently in my all time top five albums. Kavus then played a charming cover of Flashback Caruso from said slab of vinyl wonderousness. Anyone who manages to include covers of songs by Faust, Hatfield & The North, Iron Maiden, Madness, and Voivod in their set and make them sound completely natural bedfellows alongside his own tuneage must be doing something right!
This jolted me into making a mental note to finally get off my sorry arse and get around to reviewing his solo album Hip to the Jag, which I am ashamed to admit I have neglected in my “to do” pile, along with everything else, as motivation to scribble has been in short supply in these weird times. But, such was the joie de vivre emanating from Kavus’s living room via my laptop that it seemed rude not to put virtual pen to virtual paper, at last.
Here we are then, chillied up on brake fluid, venturing deep down the neural pathway of the optic nerve of the Third Eye, lost in Kavus’s netherworld, a place where ghosts shimmy and memories sigh, giving way to a tentative sense of renewal, new baby steps into the Kosmische swirl, all summed up in the epic closing track Slow Movements…
“Then solar migration bring
Migration to the source
Ten thousand years of history
Have finally run their course”
That may incorrectly give the impression that this is a heavy album, but far from it. Despite the overarching themes of loss and reflection, and eventually rebirth, it is all done with Kavus’s lightness of touch, as underneath it all, the man is one of life’s eternal optimists.
The album opens with a clap-along Om chant entitled Chart the Way, its title and a couple of references to metaphorical ships in following tracks establishing a nautical feel to the first side of the LP – yes, this is an “album” in the traditional sense.
In a break in proceedings between the reflectively melancholic A Body of Work, and the soulful and highly moving paean to lost friends that is You Broke My Fall, sits the instrumental The Peacock Throne, a lysergically altered harmonium on Warp Factor 7, tossed about on the interstellar seas. You Broke My Fall is my album highlight, a deeply felt poem of loss introduced by two lonely harmonium chords that although later instrumentally embellished is carried along by the weight and sincerity of its words. Redemption comes in the closeness of the friends still around:
“The good times haven’t ended yet
I swear I’ll keep you near
So I’ll wrap my arms around my friends
Because I love you all”
This song is an example to wave at those who incomprehensibly boast that they don’t listen to lyrics, if ever there was one. The side closer Cemetery of Light is the saddest song on the album, expressing guilt and regret at not being able to help. I’ll leave it there, here’s the video:
Side two opens with the already known Radio to Their World, a song that Kavus has been playing at solo gigs for a few years now, and from here on in, communication with the otherworld is established. My Cold Rebirth, while musically sparse, is the kind of convoluted yet interlocking arrangement familiar to any fan of Knifeworld. Slow Movements is a song sailing on a sea of droning harmonium put through various pedals. It ebbs and flows as if riding a gently rising and falling swell across the entire history of the universe.
The album leaves you feeling sad and happy all at once, and it has taken you on a journey through Kavus’s soul, and maybe shone a light into yours, too. This kind of self-exposition is a brave thing for any writer to embark upon, and Kavus has managed it without it ever becoming about the ego. There is no sentimentality here, and as it/he/we eventually merge with one another and the universe, it is with a sense of completeness, no regrets.
Hip to the Jag is in equal measure deeply honest and deeply psychedelic, and is well worth the attention of anyone who considers themselves endowed of a smidgeon of musical nous!
01. Chart The Way (2:42)
02. Silent The Rotor (4:24)
03. A Body Of Work (2:31)
04. The Peacock Throne (3:49)
05. You Broke My Fall (7:02)
06. Cemetery Of Light (3:54)
07. Radio To Their World (4:09)
08. My Cold Rebirth (4:57)
09. Where The Eyeless Walk (2:54)
10. Slow Movements (9:25)
Total Time – 45:49
Kavus Torabi – Voice, Harmonium, Guitars, Effects, Starsail
Sima Torabi – Bells (on Where the Eyeless Walk)
Record Label: Believers Roast
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 22nd May 2020