Reel - Strannie Ludi
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Strannie Ludi
Sketis Music (

cd cover This CD indeed seems to be populated by the "strange people" of the title. Despite its familiarity with other musical traditions, it maintains its own unique character with a hypnotic mystique and a playful mischievousness.

With Olga Gajdamak on vocals and violin, Alexander Leonov on vocals, flutes and iouhikko, Arcady Sokolov on drums and backing vocals, Sergey Sheljapin on double bass and Alexey Derevlyov on guitars and backing vocals, Reel creates an exquisite soundscape that seems filled with far more instruments. It sounds like a whole gamut of keyboards has been used or that it has been produced by a multi-track expert, yet the record never seems choked or claustraphobic. Instead, it sounds atmospheric and ethereal, terms so clichéd in general but that, in this case, have real gravity. Reel draws you in, cutting you off from extraneous sources and creating the sense of being in a capsule floating over Eurasia, from its Eastern extremities to its Western limits. It is a project that despite its impeccable academic credentials never fails to engage you on the emotional level. The result is a mix of the East and the West, the classical and the vernacular, the visceral and the analytical that disorients you initially but then draws you in. At one point, you'll be focusing on the sound of the double bass, then an unexpected guitar will take you some place else; you'll be focusing on the drone-like vocals and a jazz improvisation will turn you around. It's a sound that is rather difficult to describe but wonderful to listen to.

This is recording of consistently high quality. It carries echoes of the Russian Far East, of Celtic traditions and of incantations from Native American, Siberian or even traditional Russian Orthodox liturgies. Its stylistic affinities include the music of Huun Huur Tu, Putnik, Xosé Manuel Budiño (or perhaps a darker Kepa Junkera), Buddhist chants, touches of a Ry Cooder soundtrack, rock and blues, ethno free jazz and New Age groups like Clannad, Shadowfax or the music of Stephan Micus. Strannie Ludi is a true surprise from Russia that is best listened to on headphones, late at night. - Nondas Kitsos

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