Va-Ta-Ga are Alexandre Leonov (vocal, winds, strings, saw), Olga Gaidamak (vocals, violin), Alexey Derevlyov (acoustic guitar), Arkady Sokolov (percussion), Sergey Shelyapin (double bass). The band was formed in 2000 in the city of Petrozavodsk (Karelia) and until 2004 has been known under the name of Reel. Among its members the group counts four graduates from the Petrozavodsk’ State Music Conservatory while their leader Alexander Leonov, besides being a main vocalist and a multi-instrument performer, has been for years collecting folk songs as well as designing and making traditional music instruments.
The musicians themselves call the Va-Ta-Ga style an «art-folk based on the Northern folk songs». The musical journalists refer to their music as either «ethno-ambient» or «folk jazz». Having roots in the karelian and north-russian culture, Va-Ta-Ga’s members also draw inspiration from other parts of the world, including Tuva in the east and the global World Music scene. Va-Ta-Ga players use acoustic instruments as well as modern digital and analogue sound treatment. Besides a classical guitar and a double bass the band has a great variety of traditional wind, strings and percussion instruments. (From the band's site)
« […] Strannie ludi starts with one of the highlights of the cd, “Vutitsa”. A mystic song with throat-singing and airy female vocals. The song (and many others) remind me of the Farlanders, one of the few Russian folk-rock groups who made it outside the country. The way the songs are build up and the vocals have a lot in common with this group. Reel, however mixes more with other cultures than the Farlanders. On “Obriadovaja” the band creates a fusion between an Irish flute tune and steaming Russian male vocals. The same on “Zarja”, where bagpipe, violin and jazzy flute combine into a catchy piece of crossover music. The song “Pomorskaja” goes all around the world. With male vocals that sounds like the Joiking of the Sami people with a flute that reminds me more of South America, percussion that is often heard in India and all of this mixed with fine subtle electronics this song is another highlight on the cd. Strannie ludi is another strong product from the Russian Sketis label and I just cant wait until I’m allowed to review more of this experimental record company. (Eelco Schilder, folkworld.de)
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