Los Angeles-based and Bulgarian-born artist and phenom Kan Wakan has finally unveiled his latest project with the release of Phantasmagoria Vol. II a sprawling twelve-track immersion into the ever budding and imaginative worlds conjured by his music. The new album comes as the inevitable “sequel” to the previously released Phantasmagoria Vol. I, which launched Wakan (aka Gueorgui Linev) into the limelight as a talented wrangler of lightning in a bottle when it comes to his dually analog and orchestral soundscapes. Phantasmagoria Vol. II begins as a continuation of the story embarked upon on that first LP, this time turning outward instead of just looking inward in his exploration of emotion.
“I see it now as a continuation of the story,” Linev said of the album. “The previous album was more of an exploration of complex inward emotions, where as this one is a response to it and is more extroverted.”
A prolific collaborator, Phantasmagoria Vol. I featured his own hometown heroes The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra on string arrangements, and since then he’s been utilized by creative minds like Thundercat, Moses Sumney, and Baby Keem. Phantasmagoria Vol. II sees Wakan carrying on that spirit, as the album includes the presence of artists like SAÍGO, Jessica Childress, and Alexander Vincent. Their vocals provide an essential human accompaniment to Wakan’s cinema-sized creations — guiding you through his textured variations of trip-hop, as SAÍGO’s glowing and pained cries on the somber melodics of album opener “,
Defined as a “sequence of real or imaginary images, like those seen in a dream,” the “phantasmagoria” within Phantasmagoria Vol. II centers not just around Wakan but his collaborators as well. Likening it to that ancient form of theatre that used “magic lanterns to project stories of the bizarre and the supernatural,” Wakan and the cast of artists that help flesh out his musical theatricalities, will into existence an enchanting display of active collaboration on Phantasmagoria Vol. II.
From the stunning string tones and sprightly percussion on “Oh Mother,” which bounce around in the background of Childress’ soul-piercing and ecstatic trilling; to the deep-bass-grooves of “On Your Shoulders,” a jazz-lilting piece that dazzles between SAÍGO’s velvet croons and a particularly lovely flute-backing; there’s not a minute on Phantasmagoria Vol. II that doesn’t stimulate that part of your soul that is earnest for connection, for losing yourself in the music of other people’s minds and voices.
The spacey electronica of “Gestalt” revolves itself ominously around SAÍGO’s eerie transmissions, divining lucidly amidst the ever-growing clamor of beats that sprint around their cries and the endlessly-droned line: “You are the ultimate arbiter of truth in your world.” SAÍGO appears on a bulk of the songs on the album, offering up with varying degrees of intensity everything from suave coolness as on the dreamy “No Sweat Off My Back,” to joyous praise that weaves itself through the sonorous tapestry of electronica that swells radiantly on “I Love You Dawn.”
But the roll call of talent on Phantasmagoria Vol. II is ever-growing as you make your way through its densely lush soundscapes. What starts out as a solitary drum rhythm and the entrancing murmurs of Rachel Fannan on “Shining Bright Truth” eventually grows into a euphoric and grandiose crescendo of sublime strings and ethereal vocalizations. Then there are the expansive movements that take place on “Phantasmagoria Pt. 2” alongside the stratospheric cries of Keenan O’Meara, a rapturous moment of sound and emotion that fits as the album’s title track. “Never Call,” with its buzzing bass-electronic discord overlayed with Alexander Vincent’s dulcet thrumming, is club rager if we ever heard one; and Childress makes one last stellar appearance on the equally pummeling “Twilight.”
Phantasmagoria Vol. II ends with a familiar cast of characters in a one-two punch finale of Wakan and SAÍGO, but thematically the growths are immense. The bass-gallop on “Room to Grow” contrasts deeply with the pained introduction that began the album on “Worst Of Me,” with SAÍGO’s tender words revealing a deeper acceptance of themself that’s also now begun to flower outwards. And as that gushing eddy of tones and emotion that are the song’s outro surge then fade Phantasmagoria Vol. II seems to reemerge with us from the dream on “Immediacy,” a soothing ballad of warm beats and SAÍGO’s lulls.
Phantasmagoria Volume II is out November 10 via Murmur Music. Visit Kan Wakan’s website, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated on new releases and announcements like the soon-to-come Phantasmagoria Volume III.
Listen to Kan Wakan’s new album Phantasmagoria Volume II below!