Kruzenshtern I Parohod - Songs

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Auris Media
Catalog Number:
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:22:00

Israel. The country is known for numerous reasons, all ranging from excellent classical music performers to global conflict issues. Surely both of my two loyal readers out there know a good number of them, since they are both quite educated people and I need to suck up if I want to keep them around. But I digress. Although the aforementioned readers probably know Israel due to a good dozen reasons or so, I can bet my much abused liver on the fact that progressive rock and jazz are not on the list. The cause is also perfectly understandable, as the Middle Eastern nation certainly was nowhere near the forefront of those genres in the seventies; a decade with which most progfreaks are well acquainted. But things are changing. And the Israelis are making sure that they do in a big way.

In 2005, it seems almost redundant to tell those in the know that Israel has made some serious progress in the field of the iconoclastic RIO, but for those who haven't been following the genre closely, you have been warned. Now, Kruzenshtern I Parohod isn't quite a RIO band, but rather a jazz ensemble in the more angular fashion of well-known composers and performers like John Zorn. The borders between those two do become blurry on the sporadic moment, however, and this is one of them, so that select RIO followers will be interested in what this unit has to offer: a schizophrenic collection of tracks that draws on such diverse influences (whether intended or not) as death metal, Primus, Israeli folk music, Mike Patton, standard jazz, surf rock, The Melvins, the aforementioned Zorn, and a host of other styles. Sound spastic? It's because it is. The lengthiest tracks on the album, such as the excellent and riveting "Young Ones," have so much new stuff appearing and disappearing that it is as if though speed freaks had been practicing way too much on their instruments, listened to way too much music, and somehow had a genius way of keeping it all together.

In fact, the artwork of Songs is a clue to the content of the album if perceived in the right manner. At first look, it might seem like some colorful pseudo-hippie artwork for children, but upon closer inspection, some substance abuse could be suspected. And it is no wonder when one listens to the demented Patton-esque ramblings of Igor Krutogolov or the savage abandon with which Guy Schechter often beats his drums. Yet set against the madness is the refined but edgy clarinet playing of Ruslan Gross, who utilizes his instrument in a fashion more akin to Middle Eastern tradition than to Western one, modes and pitch-bending included. In fact, it is the exotic playing of Gross and the sheer energy of Schechter that give Kruzenshtern I Parohod's debut its greatest strength. That and the gorgeously slow accordion pieces "Erev" and "Lalla," in which Krutogolov relishes persistent drones and beautifully simple but poignant melodies.

Despite the wonderful vigor and enthusiasm behind the record, however, things do get to a point where it seems that the wisest choice would have been to cut the album earlier on. The limitations inherent to the Israeli folk melody stylings of Gross' clarinet playing become all too apparent by "Sippurim," and one ends up wishing that he'd resort to the rest of his bag of tricks more often. Furthermore, Krutogolov's over-the-top vocal madness gets to be a bit too much, and ends up seeming more a gimmick than adequate musical content. Otherwise though, this is yet another impressive addition to a growing number of Israeli bands that seem intent on bringing some more quality bite to the jazz and progressive rock worlds. Let's hope that this tendency keeps going.

Similar artists: John Zorn, Dave Kerman

Boker (1:51) / Joy (7:29) / Shtetl (2:31) / Tzohoraim (1:05) / Meholalot (3:22) / Young Ones (8:19) / Erev (1:50) / Portrait Of A Sitting Man In A Hat (5:31) / Kolbasa (5:46) / Lalla (2:17) / Sippurim (To Leonid Soybelman) (8:39) / Shmock On The Water (6:34) / Boker (5:08)

Igor Krutogolov - bass balalaika, voice, toy accordion, noise
Ruslan Gross - clarinet, bass clarinet, happiness
Guy Schechter - drums, happiness

Guest musicians:

Evgeny Danko - guitar
Toni Levitant - SMS message
Gal, Navon, Jackie Levy, Gil, Avi, Daive - happiness

The Craft Of The Primitive Klezmer
Songs (2004)
Live In Karaganda (2004)

Genre: RIO

Origin IS

Added: July 4th 2005
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 853
Language: english


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