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Pikapika TeArt


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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Do you know many bands from Siberia? Whatever the case, here's a group from Krasnoyarsk deserving your attention. The band begain its life in 2004 with common love for the music of Aranis, King Crimson, Hnery Cow, Fred Frith as well as Stravinsky, Schostakovich and Schnittke. The fact that there album is out on the Italian label Altr0ck is the result of Marcello Marinone (the band behind the label) discovering the band's music on their Myspace in 2006. Thus began an online communication (using translators) about releasing their music on the label, followed by the hardship of finding a proper studio for them to record in. Eventually the obstacles were conquered and we have the opportunity to hear this band's music.

While many instruments are present, the sound is not dense as to not make out details. In fact their sound is quite "breezy" contributing to the atmosphere of the music, made up of a balance between seriousness and light-heartedness. This is in contrast, for instance, to Yugen's first album, Labirinto D'acqua, where the vast array of instrumentation was such that it threatened to collapse on the listener's ears (in a good way) and the sound was this very dense and rich. Here, simplicity in texture volume seems to take precedence and guide the vibe-creation procedure.

Moreover, I appreciate then using an expanded lineup (much like Yugen and Rational Diet), being predominantly classically trained and oriented, allowing for a plethora of sounds to front the tunes, be it the sorrow-filled violin or the cheeky clarinet. Despite their classical training and background, I hear various elements in their music, such as folk, rock and chamber music, all combined to create their own sound, which is an accessible and melodic form of expression.

While the album is mostly instrumental, there are various female vocals fronted shorter tracks sung in Russian (obviously). These provide a quick respite from the album's thematic atmospheres but also provide their own eerie and unique contribution. In fact the vocal style reminds of the Finnish group Värttinä.

Their music is mostly on the calmer side of matters, mostly moderately paced with occasional bursts of a more aggressive approach appearing. Indeed, there is a strong sense of melancholy permeating from their music, perhaps a cultural influence. It is, however, contrasted with either a lighter or an aggressive section or piece, balancing out the overall tone of the album. On this note, this is something I'd like to hear more from them. I'd love to see them dare and release the leashes somewhat more; give in to the tempers and emotions dominating their music and letting them run a little wild. I also want to mention that what they do on the closing track, Slavyanskaya Prazdnichnaya, is another path I'd love to hear them go on more. In here one hears a little clearer the guitar providing a repeptitive rhythmic backing up riff while the rest of the group, including the second guitar, launch themselves into a charming short tune. This piece shows to me their unique take on the so- called "chamber-rock" theme and I'd love to hear more of the band taking on this direction. Too bad this piece is so short, I'm sure the band could have developed it some more.

All in all, this is a lovely album, coming from a remote place, revealing the talents lurking there, deserving of attention. I'd recommend this to people who like the merging of folk, classical-lineup and chamber rock into one mesh. I'd also recommend it to folks digging what bands like Yugen, Rational Diet, Aranis, Roz Vitalis, Ensemble Nimbus, Volapuk and even Ciccada (Greek band from Altr0ck's sister label) are doing.

Report this review (#380989)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Moonberry" is possibly the most promising album I heard from 2010's debuts. Chamber rock band from Siberia releasing their debut album on Italian respectable avant-prog label AltrOck - it's not an everyday's event!And even more - far not very often you can find so matured debut work!

It's well-known fact that Russia isn't progressive music Mecca: with long traditions of ban on rock music in 60s and 70s and underground rock as form of social protest in two last decades of Soviet Union existence , modern Russia is a dictatorship of power structures and wild oil and gas export based money,what both aren't the best conditions for non- commercial arts development.

With my quite deep knowledge of Russian prog-rock and jazz market, I was extremely surprised with "Moonberry" 's release.And the only reason I believe such album could be released it came from Siberia - fantastic nature's land not too far from Chine, but 4000 miles far from Moscow with its silicon body forms cult and simple people poverty.

About music: the album contains very fresh and original mix of European chamber rock (Henry Cow,etc),some classic (mostly Russian classical music), few contemporary music elements and huge doze of Siberian folklore. Please note - I didn't say Russian, but Siberian - which is similar, but without "matrioshkas" for Western tourists and boring to death cliches. From very first sounds (Troyka bells sound) this music brings you into the world of cold snowy winters, strong people and ... modernity. Band's chamber rock compositions with strings,soulful melodies so characteristic for Russian classical tradition scent of nostalgia and without cold Western mannerism, so usual for nowadays' Western chamber rock are just another world - not far and exotic world of different cultures and civilizations,but the world,which always is near us,just we are too busy to notice it.

I mentioned above band's "chamber rock compositions" - the reason is not all songs on the album are chamber rock. There are few short Siberian folk songs,sung a-Capella,added between chamber rock compositions. It's pure modern (but quite authentic) versions of traditional folklore, but they work as delicious spices in all album's brew.

Possibly, the most interesting album coming from Russia for years (if not decades),you must listen it and you will be really pleasantly surprised!

My rating is 4+!

Report this review (#402078)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars An album like this makes me wonder where to draw the line between classical music, folk music and avant-garde rock.

With this album, their debut album, this Siberian chamber orchestra has carved out their very own patch somewhere in the crossroad between these music styles. This album is neither folk rock, classical music or avant garde rock. It is one third of each. Which makes this album a bewildering experience before the listener can decode the going ons on Moonberry. In particular for a non-expert and allrounder like myself.

It is obvious that a band like Univers Zero has been an influence on this band. Or maybe that is pure accident, but you get enough UZ associations here to firmly place this album in the RIO genre. Rock in opposition, Moonberry most certainly is. Other slightly more faint references are Aranis, Rational Diet and Afenginn. Yes, I have now exhausted my chamber rock knowledge base. Other influences are the 1900th century Russian classical composers. And then we have the local folk music scene, which I have not enough knowledge about to make any comparissions with. Draw in some jazz too and you get this album.

To say that this album is an original album is an understatement. Pikapika Teart has created their own little universe. It is therefore a bit difficult to judge the quality. But it get full marks for originality. I also really like this album and it's acoustic sound with woodwinds and string instruments. I really like this 1/3 mix of everything and I really like their chamber orchestra setup. The music feels great and it is great. I am in no doubts Altrock has unearthed a true gem here in this band and I really hope we will hear a lot more from this Siberian chamber orchestra. Their music has given me something special, I feel.

4 stars

Report this review (#403566)
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Avestin asked how many bands do you know from Siberia? Well for someone of my age it's a place where the Communist leaders would send people who actually thought they had rights. No you don't want to be a Christian in a lot of countries around the World including Russia. But this is about the music and we get an Avant band playing Classical, Academic music, Chamber music and Russian Folk. I'm glad I didn't see these descriptions or I would never have picked this up(haha). This is better than I thought though, in fact those "Slavyanskaya" tracks make me glad to have actually spent some time with this. A seven piece and I'm surprised at how prominent the violin and viola are because they are the two guests on here. So if your into string led Chamber music step right up folks you won't be disappointed. Bumped this up to 4 stars after all, maybe not my thing overall but how can you not be impressed with this band.
Report this review (#2545038)
Posted Sunday, May 23, 2021 | Review Permalink

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