Aural Innovations: Petroglyphs

Ole Lukkoye – Petroglyphs
(Trail Records 2010, Trail-008)

These Russians (with a Norwegian band name) have been at it for over twenty years now, but this is my first hearing of them. My first thought was that they reminded me of Korai Orom, and while both bands are Eastern European, I won't jump to the conclusion that this style is typical to the region. Saying that they remind me of that band means that they have a very clean, well-played and well-produced sound which seeks to integrate various ethnic musical traditions into their own style, especially those of the Middle East. I much prefer Korai Orom as they have heavier and prettier edges, while these guys get close to being new-agey at times. They've put a lot of atmosphere into these tunes, though, and keyboards are a large part of the sound, not to mention the djembe, snake flute, cow horn, darabuka and so on... not that I could match any of these names to their respective sounds. There are also the occasional dub elements, again drawing the Korai/Ozrics references.

I like the mood of the opener “Zapara”; it's a classic middle-eastern type riff. I don't dig the heavily slavic inflection of the vocals. Most of the lyrics also appear to be in the group's native tongue. And I have to say that some of these songs really drag for me. I think this album will appeal more to people who prefer prog as opposed to psych, the latter isn't as prominent an element. There's some serious bassoon going on in “Ankara Karachi”. “Melting” is one of the better tracks on hand, starts out with a nice spaced out vibe, and is one of a few tracks that interpolates “trance” into the overall sound, by way of groovy kinda down-beat drum programming. My top fave, “Zagoralos”, is also the longest track at twelve minutes; it's a solid groove and all the varying percussives, hand and programmed, syncopate nicely, and later they work in a cool horn riff and other effects... and it's (fortunately) instrumental. Closer “Free Warriors” is a dubbed-out version of a traditional Jewish party song which is all too familiar... this might be a Channukah song!

Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg
Aural Innovations, #42 (May 2011)