Klashnekoff – ‘Back to the Sagas’ Review

Back to the Sagas album cover

With a celebrated music career that has spanned over a decade yet gleaned only a handful of releases, UK rapper Klashnekoff (a.k.a. Darren Kandler) is a figure that commands both love and frustration in equal measure.

His elusiveness and steadfast refusal to participate in industry politics has undoubtedly prevented him from wider success. However, in an age where bland, do-anything-for-the-fame urban acts dominate the media, his outspoken character and honest music is admirable.

Sagas of Klashnekoff album cover

After a three year hiatus fraught with clique divisions and label worries, Klashnekoff is back with his third album ‘Back to the Sagas.’ Working closely with rap producer Smasher, ‘Back to the Sagas’ is a weighty effort that aims to recapture the raucous, Rasta-infused essence of his debut, 2004’s ‘The Sagas of Klashnekoff’.

Indeed, the Hackney-based MC wastes no time in establishing a conceptual link between the two. Album opener ‘Church (intro)’ immerses the listener once again in a Babylonian world of struggle and tussle as Klash sets out his nihilist agenda, punctuating rousing electric guitar and synth riffs in that trademark multi-syllabic yap.

Klashnekoff

Title track ‘Back to the Sagas’ continues the candid lyrical theme and, in some detail, describes conflicts with management and Kyza’s surprise departure from Terra Firma. The rolling snare drums and orchestral stabs lend a military theme to the production, evident in varying degrees on ‘Get it Too’, ‘Repping Hard’ and the excellent ‘Soon Come’.

Not only does the dramatic instrumentation provide real depth to the music, rekindling the warm, analogue feel of his debut, it bolsters Klash’s combative tone and revolutionary sentiments. Nowhere is this more prevalent than on ‘Keep It Moving’ whereby the buoyant, summery beat gives real motion to a flurry of gritty observational prose.

Klashnekoff

Soviet sing-along ‘Klash Anthem’ offers some respite from the serious tone, adding a vein of boisterous humour to proceedings, even if its playback appeal may dwindle over time. The same can also be said about CB4-sampling ‘Music Game’; an 8-bit analysis of the music industry that, whilst cheery, seems at odds with the rest of the album.

Protest song ‘Raw’ brings ‘Back to the Sagas’ to a neat conclusion, and serves a poignant reminder of what Klashnekoff is capable of when in his niche. Whilst ‘Lionheart’, in its attempt to capture a clubbier, more accessible sound obscured the MC, ‘Back to the Sagas’ foregrounds his lyrical talent with layered, soulful and arguably more traditional Boom-Bap production.

Yes, some of the features and speech samples are superfluous, but these are significant of an artist that wants to say something through music, not merely spit for the sake of industry props or fleeting internet praise. ‘Back to the Sagas’ is a reaffirmation of Klashnekoff’s talents and although the ‘Sagas’ bar may not have been raised this time round, it has certainly been nudged.

Buy ‘Back to the Sagas’:

Play.com
Amazon.co.uk
Junodownload.com

Hit Klashnekoff up on Twitter:

@Klashnekoff

Kristian

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