Thursday, January 30, 2014

Russian music in the key of New Jazz on Leo Records part 1

Leo Records' efforts in documenting improv scene in Russia continue and the results are as inspiring as ever. Russia's scene seems to be flourishing and I gathered below (and in the next post) my favourite examples of the trend. (You can also check previous posts about Alexey Kurglov's "Identification", his performance with Jaak Sooar trio  or "Pandora's Pitcher by Second Approach Trio).

Evgeny Masloboev and Anastasia Masloboeva
"Your Beutiful Face Makes Me Cry"

Evgeny Masloboev - cymbalo, drums, turkish and soviet cymbals, darbuk, block-flutes, trumpet, folk wooden and clay whistles, hunters manki, african transtsa, digital and acoustic piano, prepared piano, prepared guitar, kitchen utensils, metal plates, metal and plastic pipes, voice
Anastasia Masloboeva - main vocal, reverse singing

Leo Records 2012

This the fourth duo's release on Leo Records (previous titles are "Russian Folksongs in the Key of Rhythm", " the Key of Sadness" and " the key of Winter"). In the centre of the music there's Anastatasia's voice - pure and bright, slightly distant, ethereal.
The multi instrumental surrounding creates a surreal, mystical landscape filled with gongs, small percussion, ancient string instruments, flutes and more. The music, despite occasional darkness to it, is peacefull, meditative. Like a chant in an old secluded monastery. There's something cerebral, solemn, profound and mysterious to it. The multi-layered voices and variety of sound add to a majestic, if peculiar whole. A definitely interesting listening, the duo's approach to music reminds me of the Dead Can Dance but their sound is their own. 

you can check the link (embedding has been disabled for the particular video)

Kruglov / Lapin / Yudanov - Impulse
Alexey Kruglov - soprano, alto, tenor saxes
Alexey Lapin - piano
Oleg Yudanov - drums, percussion

Leo Records 2012

The instrumental line-up of this trio reminds one of the Ganellin Trio which, couple of decades ago, was introduced to capitalist half of Europe by Leo Feign and Leo Records. Kruglov's activity in recent years can be in fact perceived as a continuation of Ganellin Trio's legacy.

The "Impulse" launches the cd with fiery and explosive saxophone outbursts and thunderous piano. "Premonition" delves first deep in the silence, begins with spare whispers, then the music arises dramatic and tense - with the low piano note resonating at the core, surrounded by whirling saxophone. There's thunderous climax, with circular piano cascade, and the peaceful, whisper-like resolution. "Echoes of Russian Metaphor" is a definite change of pace, with lyrical soprano and melodic percussion, joined by percussive tones on prepared piano. The piece could be segmented in few parts, with piano solo at the center which starts bright and joyful, but evolves into monumental mass of rumbling chords, joined soon by saxophone shouts "The Ascent" is the third longer piece of the album and it irrevocably climbs upon the crescendo, with the volume upped to the Jericho level, with Alexey screaming through two saxes at once.

There's plenty of monumental intensity on this cd and somehow the musicians find always a different path to reach the top of the mountain and get back down. But there are also some more delicate, meditative playing, with pause and silence and resonating echo of single hits on the plates or the delicate piano tones ("Contemplation" and "In search of Silence" - a lyrical Kruglov / Lapin duo). The music is probing, relentless and restless. The interaction between the trio is deep and dynamic, each one constantly pushing the other two forward. Out of the comfort zone, into the wilderness of the imagination and the effort is quite spectacular.

"Impulse" is intense and fiery, bursting with energy, drama and surprise, emotional yet quite melodic as well. Most definitely recommended.

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