Crohinga Well: Zapara

(Antrop Records / 090-00511/512)

Since the end of the ridiculously called “cold war” more and more quality music from Russia has been raching us. Although the excitement about Yat-Kha (reviewed in CW8) haven't yet died down at CW-HQ, we are already confronted with a release of the same extraordinary magnitude, albeit very different, musically speaking. Olye Liukoye (this name is but an approximation of the way we thought English-speaking people would try and pronounce the original Cyrillic characters, L.) is a band or musical project (not quite sure which) from the Saint Petersburg area with quite a large number of participants: Boris Bardash (keyboards, percussion, guitar, vocals), Andrey Lavrinenko (bass, guitar, flute, vocals), Alexander Frolov (bassoon), Giorgy Starikov (acoustic guitar), Pjotr Akimov (violin), Jekaterina Sidorova and Pavel Litvinov (percussion). You'll understand that with an instrumentation like this you shouldn't expect the group to sound like an ordinary rock band. And Olye Liukoye doesn't. I've never heard anything that even comes near to their music, which draws its influences from ethnic folk, classical music and modern rock. “Zapara” is a collection of nine compositions, each one a fantastic meltdown of ancient shamanistic rhythms and melody, of melancholic orchestration (with the occasional Far-Eastern overtone) and modern arrangements on keyboards and guitar. On top of all this you get these warm, lyrical, Slavic voices in perfect harmony with their spell-binding instrumentation, giving you vision after vision of megalithic rites on endless steppes. I can't give you any correct song titles (can't read the Russian alphabet, I confess) but be ensured that this LP is a psychedelic album that's far superior to 99% of all Western products I've ever heard this year, because these are “real earth psychedelics” (and not some rock group banging away in a sixties, seventies, or whatever fashion).

This is one of the ultimate mind-lifting albums of 1994! Alright my Russian comrades, you are supposed to have “lost” (?) the cold war to the U.S.A., but with releases like this you'll easily outgun them on the musical front.

Crohinga Well (Belgium), #9, 1995