Kruzenshtern & Parohod / Songs

a beautiful watercolor

Kruzenshtern & Parohod

Auris Media aum004, 2004

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Take no prisoners. Play music and sound as if your life mattered, and it depended on how or what you play. If you are really good, and have the right sense of sound and rhythm, you will be as moving as this Tel Aviv combo.

This is not music bounded by melody, although at times, as on "Joy," the band weaves shards of melody together, almost monotonically, until the voice begins to sing, wordless complex scat accompanied by pieces of repeating rhythm and song. The melodic fragments aren't there to convey a whole song, but rather as fragments of perception, meshed together, calling attention to themselves as objects - as though the intent isn't to create something hummable, but to create an assemblage of hummable melodic objects with their own meta melody. Humor is frequent. The use of shlockish song fragments on "Shtetl," never fails to make me laugh. Often the band feels as though it is playing at a headlong, forceful rush. Then, suddenly, things will feel more controlled, back and forth, as on the delightfully complex goldberger appartus "Portrait of a sitting Man in a hat". When instruments don't take them far enough, Krutogolov's voice takes over with nonsense syllables and sounds, eventually ending in growls of voice and clarinet and percussion.There are also periodic, more melodic breaks, "morning," "noon", "evening", "night" and then, complete with a repeat of the alarm clocks and an ending clash as one wakes once again, "morning" revisited.

band photo

What makes this work is, in part, the compositional genius of the band, but also the absolute mastery of the instruments and the intense passion with which they are played. Rather than sounding like random, unrehearsed chaos, pieces sound like gems of minimalism meets klezmer meets jazz meets experimental music. I am someone who finds listening to Stockhausen's "Aus den sieben tage" relaxing, and gets very tense when listening to too much packaged meditation music. This is the sort of well-done experimental music: the shards of melody, the punch of rhythm, occasional scales, that makes its own sense. The seconds of frantic thrash guitar in "Sippurim" before the tuneful Hebrew voice followed by gentle meandering clarinet. The straining saxophone against the repetitive bass beats and thump thump thump of the drums in "Mehalalot", gradually transforming itself into more complex song fragments which intertwine tightly together. Contrast this with the Middle Eastern-sounding entwining of the original, or the Cracow Klezmer Band interpretation on "Voices in the Wilderness". The Kruzenshtern & Parohod version is played on the edge, as though lives depend on it. The difference, at times, between Tel Aviv and New York.

It is hard to describe carefully scripted chaos. I am still stuck for close analogy with the Dutch band Trio Clusone or the work of Hans Bennink. I want, also, to point to the work of Sixties Prog Rock and jazz bands like National Health or the Soft Machine, but this is far more immediate, far less pretentious. At times I am reminded of Naftule's Dream, although this is a far smaller band - primarily a trio.

This is the cheeriest, most pleasant, and most mind-bending piece of experimental music I have heard all year. It is an intense pick-me-up for those of us allergic to the overly simple or overy lush. It's punk jazz for those who expect music to be fun and deep at the same time. It's just made all the rest of my favorite albums of the year second favorites. Like their first album, this CD is most highly recommended.

Personnel this recording:
Igor Krutogolov: bass balalaika, voice, toy accordion, noise
Ruslan Gross: clarinet, bass clarinet, happiness (on "Joy")
Guy Schechter: drums, happiness (on "Joy")

Evgeny Danko: guitar (on "Sippurim")
Toni Tevitant: SMS message (on "Shmock on the water")
Gal, Navon, Jackie, Levy, Gil, Avi, Daive: happiness (on "Joy")


  1. Boker 1:51
  2. Joy 7:29
  3. Shtetl 2:31
  4. Tzohoraim 1:05
  5. Mehalalot 3:22
  6. Young ones 8:19
  7. Erev 1:50
  8. Portrait of a sitting Man in a Hat 5:31
  9. Kolbasa 5:46
  10. Laila 2:17
  11. Sippurim (to Leonid Soybelman) 8:39
  12. Shmock on the water 6:34
  13. Boker 5:08

All music by Igor Krutogolov except "Meholalot" by John Zorn. Arranged by Igor Krutogolov. All arrangements by I. Krutogolov & Kruzenshtern i Parohod.

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