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Aquarium - Русский альбом [Russan Album] CD (album) cover

Русский альбом [RUSSAN ALBUM]


Prog Folk

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5 stars In an effort to expand my musical horizons, I find myself exploring progressive rock bands that not only sing in a different language but incorporate the culture of that country in the music as well. This is one of those bands.

Aquarium is a band from Russia (the name in Russian spelling is Аквариум - at least that's as close as I could get to spelling it correctly). Actually it would be better described as Boris Grebenshikov's band since he is ht one the revived the band to release what is essentially a solo album (sort of like Robert Fripp and reforming King Crimson). I am from the United States, so my outlook on albums by this band will be a bit different than the reviewers who experienced this culture and, perhaps, the effect the Soviet Union had on this band.

One of the first things I noticed about this album was the singing. Now obviously I cannot understand Russian but I can enjoy the singing. The beauty of the human voice can be missed if you know the language as you pay attention to what is sung but sometimes not how it is sung. Boris Grebenshikov's voice is a good accompanist to the music here. It conveys the emotion and feeling through the sound and the rhythm of the words spoken. It is truly an awesome thing to hear the human voice as an instrument and not as a vehicle for lyrics.

And now onto the music.

This album is a soft album with no electric instruments and rarely any drums. In fact the only up tempo song is the only track with prominent use of the drums. The acoustic guitar takes its place as the rhythm instrument. It is soft acoustic work that is inspired by Russian folk. This is the reason why it is called Russian Album. Boris Grebenshikov took his music abroad but did not get much positive feedback so he returned to his Russian roots and his beloved homeland.

The sound of this music is emotionally powerful. The acoustic work is very good at bringing out feelings. The wide range of instruments helps this, my favourite one being the accordion. This album's songs do not sound too similar and do not sound too different as to surprise the listener. My favourite songs so far are Елизавета [Elizabeth] and Бурлак [Burlack], the former for its exceptional guitar work and very cool accordion and flute work, and the latter for its upbeat sound with the drums providing a good backbeat to allow Boris to expand on his guitar playing a bit. Another interesting fact is the last song (I don't have a version with bonus tracks - yet) seems to be a reprise of the first with its predominant oboe playing (I think that's an oboe).

This is a wonderful Russian folk album that should be appealing to everyone. The music is beautiful and mesmerising. 5/5 stars

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Posted Monday, April 2, 2007 | Review Permalink

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