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Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn) - Grafiks CD (album) cover


Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn)


Prog Folk

3.09 | 3 ratings

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3 stars I wouldn't call Rada & Ternovnik a progressive folk band based solely on their debut album, which mostly consists of a distinctly Russian form of goth-rock with some mild folk leanings and pretty simple musical arrangements (the guitarist for example appears to only have about three chords down pat). Fortunately the band would quickly develop on subsequent records into a very intriguing group that has produced more than a dozen albums filled with a wide range of musical styles and emotions.

This one (titled "Graphics" or "Grafiks" or something to that effect) is a fairly low-key affair that doesn't even get mentioned much on the few websites with any information on the band. The pattern for many of the tracks is similar: a haphazard rhythm, hushed bluesy guitar, a bass player that seems to be distracted, and Rada Anchevskaya's goth-like, dark vocals and her incredible range.

There are exceptions. "Candle" is a bit more animated in sort of a PG-13 version of Diamanda Galas, while "Tango" offers up a rhythmic Russian counter-culture interpretation of what I assume is the Finnish variation of the traditional Argentinean dance. This and "Scottish Dance" offer a glimpse into a dance-music side of the band that would reveal itself in a couple of their later albums.

And "Ethnicity", at nine minutes one of the longest tracks the band would ever record, blends copious amounts of heavy guitar and turgid percussion with layers of reverb and echo in a prelude to the darker material that would quickly follow on their next couple recordings.

As a Westerner I find it very challenging to write about Russian music, not only because it tends to have complex cultural contexts, but also because there is very little English- language literature available to help interpret what is being presented. Despite this I find Rada & Ternovnik to be a very intriguing band and have invested a fair effort in hunting down their music at least, hoping the underlying meaning (or at least the moods) will reveal themselves with time.

This is the first record but not the best place to start in discovering the band if you are looking for their most representative sound. Still, I find it to be very approachable and have spun it many times since first discovering the band, so a modest three stars seems appropriate, but just barely. Temper your expectations and you shouldn't be disappointed.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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