Words: Tom Voce Images: Richard Ecclestone
There’s a lot of money in boxes these days. Many companies are joining the queue to put cajóns on the production line – pumping them out to meet the demand for this most convenient of percussion items. But there’s a growing number who are putting the craft first and creating instruments that sound and look beautiful, not just functional.
Kandū is one of these: a pair of musician friends who started crafting cajóns four years ago, working from a small workshop in Galilee, Israel. They became a trio and now have four lines of cajóns distributed worldwide. Their top line is the one you see here, the Jungle Vibe. This is the Flame model with two snares running vertically down the front side. The Jungle Vibe comes in two other flavours: Thunder, with no snare, or Tempest with two double-width short snares. All of these are based on different musical traditions: Thunder is Peruvian style, Tempest is for modern dynamic playing, and Flame is for flamenco: a full and varied range to choose from. So what’s their high-end flamenco model like?
In Detail and In Use
To start with, the playing and seating surfaces are very ergonomic. I’ve got a cajón that I love the sound of but it’s a real hand grater. These have carefully rounded edges and – critically – they’re glued, not screwed. No nasty screwheads to ruin your hands, forcing you to decorate the front of your cajón with a new, unwanted scarlet dabbing pattern while you grimace, thinking “the show must go on”. Having a gap-free edge all round your playing surface does mean you have to do without the option to loosen the panel at the top to get that ‘clack’ so useful in flamenco. But that’s a small loss when the sound of the snare on this instrument is so snappy and consistent. It’s very sensitive and ill give you a full range of snare options even at low volume. The bass is round and controlled and has a little snare if you play out, but none at low velocity: exactly what you’re looking for in a flameno box. For those who want less bass snaring, then Kandū’s Tempest seems designed for just that.Inside the box you see just how much attention to detail they give. There’s one sturdy and well-finished construction for anchoring the snares, and one for altering the bass – I suppose you could say it’s a little like an analogue EQ. This relies on a horizontal wooden slider bracing different parts of the shell. The result is quite subtle, but might be very useful when miking up for maximum bass control.
On the bottom are two fixed rubber feet at the back and two adjustable ones at the front. These rise enough to lean the cajón back and give you more access to the face, and less corner-bashing, palm-bruising, blood-on-your-hands potential.
Ergonomic, beautifully crafted and with all the sounds you’d expect for flamenco, Kandū has created something special. And as well as a Kandū attitude, it appears these guys have a pretty sound outlook, too.
Kandū Jungle Vibe Flame Cajón
+972 (0)4 6619047