Kan Wakan's 2014 debut album, Moving On, deftly introduces the Los Angeles outfit's unique brand of dark orchestral pop. Centered around the sultry croon of vocalist Kristianne Bautista, Kan Wakan specialize in evocative, moody music, built largely upon the songwriting of Bulgarian-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Gueorgui I. Linev. Also adding some heaviness on various tracks are guitarist Peter Potyondy, bassist Cooper Appelt, violinist Dannon Rampton, saxophonist Jesse Aumiller, drummer Joey Waronker, and others. Kan Wakan also worked with conductor Stefan Linev (Gueorgui's uncle) and the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra to fully achieve their cinematic vision. Think Sea Change-era Beck crossed with '90s Portishead crossed with a '70s Italian horror movie soundtrack and you won't be far off from the epic noir-dub sound Kan Wakan achieve on Moving On. Cuts like the leadoff "Forever Found" and the jazzy "Sawdust" combine electric basslines and orchestral sections à la Serge Gainsbourg's "Melody Nelson" that frame Bautista's soulful, haunting vocals to great effect. Elsewhere, Kan Wakan take the jazz influence even further on the funky, spy movie-sounding "Space Owl (Cut the Rope)" and delve headlong into waves of romantic, orchestral James Bond ennui with "Why Don't You Save Me?" Ultimately, Moving On is an immensely accomplished album that touches upon the grandest pop traditions while still sounding surprisingly original.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar