VAHN – Kapitel 1 Review
Written by Kevin Tanza on November 30, 2020
You can listen to the entire Kapitel 1 album by VAHN on Spotify.
When working doing reviews of bands and albums, I like to be challenged. This job can get very mundane at times, often listening to the same types of albums and groups to the point that you start to lose interest in this sort of things. In that regard, there are also many fascinating challenges: stepping out of my comfort zone and get the opportunity to review albums that perhaps I wouldn’t have found otherwise.
A perfect example of my last point is VAHN’s debut album, 2020’s Kapitel 1, and a very interesting musical effort that you should consider given an opportunity to.
Being an acronym for Violent Aggressive Heartless Noise, VAHN is a group that hails from Dublin, Ireland, and it’s the musical brainchild of Derek Adams, who has been a long term musician and producer with experience in groups of many different genres, including the likes of Rock, Punk and Heavy Metal. Being now a seasoned musician with a better understanding of what he could do and achieve, Adams decided to create this project called VAHN to try something different and that he did with this group’s debut album, Kapitel 1.
If you want to have a certain grasp of what this project is all about (and I would like to think you want to or else why would you be here?), VAHN takes a lot of influences from 80s Synth music and also a lot of attitude from the likes of Deepeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. Adams is a huge fan of artists that were always on the cutting edge such as David Bowie or Kraftwerk and that is something that you can hear in this album, especially when you take into account that this entire musical effort was written, produced and recorded all by himself–the very definition of a solo album, if there ever was one.
In fact, there is one fascinating detail that I personally found quite interesting when doing research about this album: Adams recorded this entire album with just his analog, which goes to show the type of musical talent that we have here and the kind of intimacy that we’re going to find in Kapitel 1–an album that also happens to be a concept album about exploring the many issues of control and conflict.
I’m not going to spoil you the whole album with a track-by-track analysis but I will rather focus on my perceptions about Kapitel 1. And the main one is quite clear, actually: a haunting album.
Listening to this album is like starring at the rain in a lonely room. It’s haunting, solemn and done with a degree of intimacy that you don’t see these days. It’s very simple because it was recorded with just an analog, but it’s done in a very transparent manner–you can tell that Adams is showing himself as he is from a musical perspective and it works like a charm, at least from my perspective.
The use of synths in this album is simple, but does well to set up a certain atmosphere. If you enjoy 80s Synth Pop with some dark and almost goth-like undertones, this might be a great album for you because Adams keeps it simple and to the point, which is something that a lot of musicians tend to struggle with. Keeping it simple is almost an art itself.
Jaw Breaker might be my favorite track of the whole album. Elegant, somewhat upbeat and showcasing Adams’ vocal talents at his best, I think this song is very representative of the entire album’s ethos and it makes for a compelling experience.
Overall, Kapitel 1 is a very fascinating album because of its simplicity and it’s done with the honesty and transparency of a musician that is doing music for the sheer enjoyment of it. It was a very interesting discovery for me and a very different experience to what I have listened to in recent months, so I think you should definitely give it a chance.
You can follow VAHN on Instagram.