Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Album Review: ВеданЪ КолодЪ - Танец леших
Artist: ВеданЪ КолодЪ (Vedan Kolod) [Russia]
Album Title: Танец леших (The Dance of the Wood Spirits)
Record Label: Sketis Music (Russia)
Russian folk band Vedan Kolod's second CD, The Dance of the Wood Spirits, is an improvement over their very good debut, Tribes. Their overall sound has not changed much, except for the addition of bagpipes and other instruments. The album progresses largely the same as Tribes, with a variety of styles among the songs to keep the listener from becoming too accustomed to one particular style. But everything just feels more mature on this album: the songwriting is tighter, the players more confident, the production is more consistent, etc. This is everything that was so good about the first Vedan Kolod album, only better.
I had ordered the first and second CD's at the same time, and this one actually arrived a day earlier than the other, so this album was my first real exposure to Vedan Kolod other than a few Myspace samples and Youtube videos. To be honest, I didn't really know what to make of it at first. This is a band that is unlike any other that I have heard, and I had to grow accustomed to their style of music and grow to appreciate it over the next few days of listening at work and at home. Like the other CD, there are songs that I immediately liked, while there were some that took time to appreciate. Since then, however, I have grown to really like this album from beginning to end, and I am excited to hear their third CD, which seems to be even more difficult to find than this one.
The album begins with Веснянка, an original song by the band which features the drum, zhaleika (I believe), and solo female vocal. This is a fast-paced, energetic song, and a wise song with which to begin the album. The second track, Да на море утушка купалася, which translates to "Duck is swimming in the sea," is a traditional Russian wedding song, and it actually sounds rather solemn for a wedding song, or a song about a duck, for that matter. It contains some very interesting female vocal harmonies. Quite lovely and amazing. The instrumentation on this track is drum and I think a Scythian horn, also an odd choice for a wedding song, I think. However, I would be happy to have this song played at my wedding, if I were to have a second one.
The third track features vocals by Valerii Naryshkin, the one male in the band, as well as gusli, flute, and gudok (the three-stringed, violin-like instrument I mentioned in the last review). The fourth track is mostly instrumental, but with some spoken text in the foreground. I won't go track-by-track through the whole album, but maybe you'll get an idea of the kind of variety Vedan Kolod employs. There are 13 tracks, just like the first album, but this album is 10 minutes shorter, at about 38 and a half minutes. That may sound like a detriment, but actually I think the shorter songs help move the album along at a nice pace.
I don't know what else to say about The Dance of the Wood Spirits, except that it's a great second album for Vedan Kolod and should definitely please fans of their first album. The addition of bagpipes and zhaleika are certainly welcome as well, as they add even more color and richness to the music. There's a lot of detail just waiting to be discovered among these songs, and I enjoy the fact that I keep finding things that I missed in previous listens.
This is a highly-recommended CD for those who are looking for authentic Russian folk with a reverence for Russia's history and a desire to revive and preserve its ancient musical traditions. I encourage Tatyana, Daryana, Polina, and Valerii to continue their musical journey wherever it may lead them. It has been an exciting one so far.