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The best kept secret in music


"The Kan'Nal Karavan"

My craving for some new and inventive world beat music was intense as I arrived at the office this morning and immediately headed over to the CD inbox. My eye was instantly drawn to Kan’Nal’s Dreamwalker album. Call it fate if you will, but spirit knew better than I did.

The disc started spinning and the room exploded into colors. ‘This is way beyond world beat,’ I thought as I watched the swirling energies coalesce around me. ‘But what is it?’

It is the journey of spiritual travelers, drawn together by a series of “coincidental” encounters upon the La Ruta Maya, or spiritual tour through the Mayan sites of Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. But it began in truth in the Guatemalan village San Marcos (near the sacred Lake Atitlan) with the meeting of Tzol, whose pseudonym paraphrases the name of the sacred Mayan calendar, (vocals/guitar) and Tierro (ld guitar).

There they begun to experiment with rhythm and melodies, writing songs that were to eventually find themselves recorded thousands of miles away in Toronto as their self-titled debut album (2001, independent). But first, the songs had to take shape.

“We played mainly in courtyards behind people’s homes,” Tzol remembered, “which we’d decorate before each show with flowers that we’d picked and anything else we could find to create these extravagant displays.”

Shortly after recording in Toronto they returned to Guatemala and immediately met Rodolfo Escobar (bass) and his partner Teresita (performance artist). Again, spirit intervened and the two became an integral part of Kan’Nal, integrating a stronger and funkier vibe and a nuanced sense of depth to their performance.

And there they stayed, living just outside San Marcos in a certain utopian state of grace; living off the land, performing, exploring and stretching their souls in the tropical heat.

Teresita recalled that “we could spend all day lying in the sun, swimming, and eating fresh fruit that’s just falling from the trees. At the same time there’s no running water or electricity,” she continued, “so you have to make a fire every time you want to cook. You pull the beans from the ground to make your salads. It takes all day to prepare your meal. To get anywhere you have to follow paths through huge mountains, so your body is challenged but it also comes to life and becomes strong.”

This natural and spiritual way of life is reflected strongly in their lyrics just as their mystic sense of geography is heard in their music. Latin rhythms are a strong influence, African and Gypsy percussion echo through each song and meditative vibes abound, all anchored by a surprisingly strong sense of western rock and roll that weaves itself in and out of the myriad of cultural and folk roots with surprising agility.
Lyrically, they are at times mind-bending, sometimes obvious and always, it seems, exploratory:

Unite the colours and walk as one - “Gypsy”
I’ll walk a thousand miles at least to slay myself and offer up my soul like a rattle – “Desert Flower”
Plant the seeds in the mother’s core and grow like corn - “Sun and Moon”
Tzol explains. “It’s never about just standing onstage. We want to go beyond that, to stimulate all the senses and raise them to some other level.”

And as Kan’Nal sat around their utopian lake, fate insisted on raising them to new levels as well. There they met Aaron Jerad (didgeridoo/percussion) and Gilly Gonzalez (percussion) who again layered more texture onto the rapidly evolving Kan’Nal sound.

From there, Teresita brought storyteller Akayate into the fold and then they stepped firmly into the 21st century with the addition of Multimedia Videographer Boris Karpman.

Then what? Well they relocated from Guatemala to Mexico. And, being the travelers that they so obviously are, they relocated again to Texas and finally to Boulder, Colorado, recording an EP in 2004 and then finally the full-length album Dreamweaver (due out September 20th on Physiks Records) that brought us to this article in the first place.

And now that I’ve listened to it at length, watched the videos on their website and explored their online community, I’ve come full circle to a profound respect for Kan’Nal and what they are trying (successfully in my mind) to accomplish.

Tzol describes their music as “shamanic rock” and I couldn’t agree more. This is music that not only has a conscience but is conscious. It seeks, it challenges and it heals with an incredible blend of international rhythms, mystical memories and a perfectly placed rock attitude. So now that they’ve played High Sierra, Burning Man and Dreamtime, traveled across several continents and through multiple countries and are preparing for the release of their first full-length album, what’s next?

"I see us going even further," Tzol insisted, "to Europe, Australia, and Asia – anywhere and everywhere -- because we're all travelers at heart. And to be able to do this as part of a project like Kan'Nal is a great privilege. I really believe we are just at the beginning." - Kynd Music

"Good CDs We Overlooked This Year"

LOST TRACKS : Good CDs We Overlooked This Year

Washington Post
Wednesday, December 28, 2005; Page C05


It's a rare CD that makes you want to rub sticks together in your back yard, yank off your clothing and howl at the moon while cavorting around a crackling bonfire. Kan'Nal's "Dreamwalker" has that effect.
Started in Guatemala by Tzol, a transplanted vocalist-guitarist from Austin, and lead guitarist Tierro, a Canadian wanderer, this "shamanic rock" group has evolved into a seven-member performance-art beast based in Boulder, Colo.
Kan'Nal's concerts are spectacular: Hypnotic percussion, skull-crushing guitar and buzzing didgeridoo create a spirit-channeling framework for Tzol's primal screams and sensual, son-of-Tarzan vocals. Kan'Nal's two female members -- mesmerizing hippie-chick dancers -- gyrate as if possessed, eyes rolled back, sometimes holding deer antlers to their craniums.
Capturing that madness on disc would seem improbable, but Kan'Nal comes close. "Dreamwalker" is knifed into two visceral halves: six excellent studio tracks (one that's part live) and three longer, sweat-drenched live cuts. The mystical, metallic "Desert Flower" is the heaviest journey, musically and lyrically. While acoustic and electric jungle-trance guitars brew up a storm, Tzol exults: "Shake my bones 'til they shatter! Shake my soul like a rattle!"
If there's a possible criticism, it's that if you've heard one Kan'Nal song, you've sort of heard them all. Not fair. Gorgeous ballads such as "Time" and "All Things Change" showcase a softer dimension of Kan'Nal's sonic palette of earth, wind and fire. But even if you were to accept that gripe . . . MAN, WHAT A SONG.
Tribal-rock blasts such as "Gypsy" and "Iris" plunge a hand into your chest and grab onto the part of your being that swung from trees a few million years ago. Find another band that does that.

-- Michael Deeds
- Wahington Post


Kan'Nal (2002)
Dreamwalker (2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Kan’Nal’s live performances are legendary – “shamanic rock” rituals that stir emotions of fear, desire, ecstasy and longing. The band -- which includes vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, hand drums and percussion, bass, didgeridoo, sensual/mystical/theatrical dance, and video projection - delivers powerful, live spectacles that tap influences from Ravi Shankar, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Jane’s Addiction, and the Goa/trance music scene to create an effect that is nothing short of magical. Fans find hauntingly beautiful ballads, hypnotic trance infused incantations and explosive percussive epics.