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Stansilav Yudin And Asnata Rancāne
Op. 2

CPL Music
Review by Chris Nickson

A double bassist and a singer - both of them doubling on other instruments - explore the very fluid boundary between folk music and improvisation, and create something that lingers long in the mind. The words come from traditional songs, some from the musicians' native Latvia, but also Lithuania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine - notably, all countries once repressed under the Soviet yoke. They give a grounding to the songs, an anchor, although at times they seem to hover, circling around and over a track, like the refrain from "Ja Na Torče," more ghostlike than solid. The words are the clothes, however; it's the music that's the body.

Yudin (who utilizes plenty of loops and effects on his instrument) and Rancāne (who's also a member of the sextet Tautumeitas) work beautifully together, leading and following in turn, as the double bass explores texture and space, with long, bowed notes creating a pillow under everything. The sparseness gives the music a chance to float. When it becomes too crowded, as on "Ganu Dziesma," where soprano sax, pipes, and percussion intrude, it ends up feeling all too earthbound.

Yet on the other track with a fuller sound, they get it so, so right, with the doomy, portentous keyboard chords behind "Inspiration" adding to the atmosphere. There's magic in much of this mix, where less becomes so much more, and the darkness curls in from the edges. The pair are in such creative sync, they listen to each other so well, that it's impossible to know exactly where the leap off into space and the improvisation begins. Plenty of absolute magnificence. Chris Nickson

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Further listening:
Martyred Saints & Sister Bells: Stave Church Songs

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