25/09/2007

Ivan Kupala - Kostroma (1999)

«Despite what some first-time (English-speaking) listeners may think, Ivan Kupala is in fact a group not a single composer. Hailing from St Petersburg in Russia: Denis Fyodorov, Alexei Rumyantsev and Alexei Ivanov were all working at the same radio-station when they teamed up and decided to make modernised versions of Russian folk-songs. A variety of live shows and tours across Russia resulted in the group Ivan Kupala and their debut 11-track album Kostroma released in 1999. The group is named after the feast of John the Baptist (who is known as Ivan Kupala in Russia) which is a Belarusian version of the midsummer-festival on 7 July. Lead voices on the album are all female, and each track for the most part features solo voice and group-chants interchangeably. The title-song was also released as a single and serves as a great primer to the album – Russian traditional-singing combined with upbeat arrangements and lots of synthesiser work including Dao Dezi-like bagpipe solos. “Brovi” follows this with a similar approach, but adds more complexity and thus is even better: a thumping club beat introduces us to the track with perky synth-instrumental and verse/chorus chants that are exceptionally performed and highly infectious. “Vinograd” slows things down slightly with a rock-pop beat and accordion instrumentals to create a more folk-like piece. “Molodost” is a laid-back, more romantic piece with beautiful flute interludes. Slower tracks are in the minority though, the album is primarily a collection of fast-tempo uplifting songs: like the accordion flourishes and staccato male backing yodels of “Kanarejka” and the bouncy-synths of “Kolyada” which culminates in a fantastic clapping-yelping section that urges everyone to come dance. However “Galia” stands as a true highlight; its slow steady beat, lush synth chords, faint mandolin playing combine with a haunting vocal performance continually multi-tracked, light electronic basslines and even a sitar bridge-section. “Polosa” ends the album off nicely by continually growing more excited, with the listener unable to resist being swept along. The album is near-perfect and only let down slightly by the unfortunate use of reggae influences and brass-instruments in the song “Svatochki”. If you are a fan of Eastern European singing you will surely love Kostroma. Similarities with Deep Forest's second album Boheme are inevitable due to the Eastern European influences, but Ivan Kupala is much more than a clone. After the release of the first album all the songs were then handed over to various producers to create the compilation album Remixed Kostroma (released in 2000) which saw the original tracks re-invented into commercial styles that are very popular in Russia today […] – trance, hip-hop/breakbeat, club, drum'n'bass, jungle and even salsa! Ivan Kupala is definitely a project that deserves wider distribution and worldwide attention. […]» (Earth Rhythms)

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9 comments:

Radu said...

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satyr69.wordpress.com said...

Thank you.

whiteray said...

Thanks for this -- looks very interesting!

Anonymous said...

yeah!

Anonymous said...

Looking for their 2002 Radio Nagra which is mindblowing, curious about this one.
Thank U

Burak said...

It's a very nice album, thanks.

Though I hate the word "modernized", whatever that means.

Sam said...
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Daniel M. Thomaz said...

Thank you very much, Radu! You've done a great work spreading these wonderful pieces.

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