Half noise, half folk - Khancoban's songs deploy in low-gravity and with a dash of grit. They are performed calmly, using calculated space and tension, exploding at key points that leave the band's filament burning in their wake. Khancoban is a hijacked car from a country town…its AM radio spilling out tunes by the likes of Wilco, Kingsbury Manx, Sufjan Stevens and Calexico - bands both influential and with kindred music. This is a band with vast sound and riddled with hideaway nooks. Now in your city, that stolen car is all Khancoban's own. Get in.
Limbs May Fall is Khancoban's first full-length record - expanding the view in every direction from their inaugural self-titled effort from 2006. The record's fourth track, 'Ghost in this Lake', secures the sombre aura and hinterland textures which vein throughout the album. As important, this song beckons to a specific region which provides a backdrop for the band's namesake town. That place includes Jindabyne, less than a half-hour's drive away from Khancoban. And this, Limbs May Fall, is Khancoban's record - forty minutes away from where you need to be.
Khancoban's line-up sculpts their collective effort. Co-founded as a two-piece in 2004 by Andre Hooke (lead vocals, guitar) and partner Jemima Hooke (drums), the band has welcomed into its fold Andrew Bonnici (lap steel, electric guitar, banjo) and Pete Cohen (double bass, electric bass, vocals, musical saw), formerly of Sodastream. In Khancoban, a banjo delivers. A lap steel's chords slink up behind you. The cadence of drums march you through sound-scapes previously un-encountered; an atmosphere that provides a hint of spaghetti-western country, a touch of psych, and stacks of room to daydream in the wide-open music. Cohen's versatility enhances the record, notably the chalky murmurs which peel off his double bass as well as the horn and string arrangements stitched within the album. This, joined by Andrew's multi-instrument canoodling, Andre harmonising with the cosmos and Jemima's drummed countdowns, equips the quartet to produce what Rip It Up has described as an "indescribably, quintessentially Australian sound".
Appearances with Built to Spill and Something For Kate, along with New Buffalo, and Deloris reassert that direction as one increasing the band's popularity. Andre notes of the band's work, "We get loud, we want it to have an impact. When we get soft, we generally want people to feel uneasy. I don't like it to settle too much in one place". Fittingly, Limbs May Fall was composed in two locations; the 'loud' of the record caged within the noisy zigzag of a Melbourne warehouse, the 'soft' absorbed under a canopy of country trees. Welded together, the record offers sharpened chords, brooding lulls and nervous extrapolations from country planes that create your own private atmosphere. Neil Thomason and Bob Weston, often associated with louder music, recorded and mastered this quietly dynamic album without excessive knob-twisting in the studio.
Khancoban was keenly received by longstanding label, Half A Cow Records, which released the band's inaugural sel-ftitled mini album. HAC Records, likening the band's independent spirit to label-mates Crow, Art of Fighting and Tendrils, had this to say of the 2006 release: "Truly unique. In order to express ideas and emotions, they (Khancoban) find it necessary to create new forms. We are proud to have these bands in our catalogue." - Nic Dalton, HAC Records Manager.
It's an apt genealogy: Raymond Carver's So Much Water, So Close to Home influencing director Ray Lawrence's Jindabyne influencing Khancoban's austere 'Ghosts in this Lake'. Many of the songs on Limbs May Fall, including 'Stolen car' and 'Balloon Sunrise', have long been perfected on the road. But, not all is shiny and safe here - 'Hours' flows into the title track to quietly begin the album, then accelerates to fulfil the poise and direction Khancoban travels in.
Fill up. Get in. Play the record. - Kent MacCarter
Sydney - The Hopetoun Saturday 27 September
with Rand and Holland + Des Miller + And Then To Bed
Melbourne - Northcote Social Club Saturday 11 October
with Richard Easton + The Wintership Quartet
Various tracks from the record are now being previewed online.