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RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN)

Prog Folk • Russia


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Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn) biography
RADA & TERNOVNIK are a Russian band with an eclectic history of varied musical sounds dating back to the early nineties. The band's frontwoman is a formally trained opera singer, a talent she leverages to give range to the dark, often psychedelic-influenced new folk sounds the band has come to be known for over the years.

The group has a varied discography that includes acoustic and electric folk, psychedelic and conventional rock albums, as well as one of the first Russian trip-hop records with their 1998 release 'My love, my sorrow'. The band has released well over a dozen albums and continues to perform today, primarily as a three-piece live act.

>> Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth) <<

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RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Grafiks
1994
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sorrow Sounds
1995
2.00 | 1 ratings
My Love, My Sorrow
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cold Seasons
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Book of the Cruelty of Women
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
Salamandra
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Oracle
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
All Beloved is Simple
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Conspiracies
2005

RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Russian Epos
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Heavenly City
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Insomnia
2005

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RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The History of Three Worlds
2001

RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Rada & Ternovnik
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
Grafiks Demo 1992-1993
2002

RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Russian Epos by RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) album cover Live, 1999
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Russian Epos
Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn) Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
3 stars In 1999 Rada & Ternovnik seemed to still be working out what sort of group they wanted to be when they grew up, even as they were recorded their fourth full-length studio album and after nearly seven years together as a band. Following the darkwave album 'My Love, My Sorrow' the group put together this collection of what are basically pretty straightforward rockers, dark but conventional other than for Rada's seductively somber and often intense vocals.

Musically I can't hear much to distinguish these songs from a lot of contemporary radio tunes pushed out in the latter eighties and early nineties. It's not Wham! or Prince to be sure, but the pedestrian rhythm section of drums and bass, along with more subdued guitar work than the band had displayed on their first two releases combine for an altogether common record that is truly dominated only by the vocals.

Some of these appear to be studio tracks, although for the most part this is a live album, seemingly performed to a rather small and quietly polite audience. Strange that most of the songs seem to be original, new material, yet none of them appeared on any earlier studio albums so perhaps the group is simply using a live setting in lieu of paying for studio time. Not really sure.

"Simple Quiet Songs" would go on to appear on several future live and compilation recordings, and "Cold Time" and "None in Paradise" would appear on the group's 2000 studio release as would the vocally chilling avant-garde composition "You Will Dance" and the operatic "Potholes", a nearly ten minute dirge of ranting guitar, gut-checking bass and impossible vocal range. Of all the songs here "Potholes" is by far the most memorable, though "You Will Dance" offers the first solid evidence that behind all the posing, angst and vocal gymnastics this is a genuine Russian folk-rock band at heart. In fact that song is the one that convinced me.

I wish I knew more about the relationship of this album to the studio release 'Cold Seasons' that would follow it. That one is similar but for the most part avoids the overindulgent foray into common rock that this one veers right into at the opening bell. I wonder if they were touring and recording this one while preparing to enter the studio for 'Cold Seasons'. If so the time on the road definitely helped them work the bugs out of the material that ended up on the studio release.

This is a challenging album due to the large number of unambitious tracks that tend to lull the listener into assigning an impression of mediocrity to the record. But patience is always a virtue, no more so than for those who hang around for the last thirteen minutes or so of this offering and are rewarded with the best the band has had to offer up to this point. A solid three stars on the weight of the last third of the album. Would have been four had the rest of the songs lived up to those two.

peace

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 My Love, My Sorrow by RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.00 | 1 ratings

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My Love, My Sorrow
Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn) Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
2 stars I'm not sure why a progressive goth-folk band like Rada & Ternovnik felt the need to crank out a darkwave album, and in the late nineties after the novelty had worn off that genre to boot. But for some reason they did, and 'My Love, My Sorrow' is that album.

Someone named Marina Kikin supposedly sings supporting vocals as well. Given Rada Anchevskaya's tendency to overdub her own voice on other albums it gets a bit tricky to try and figure out which vocals are actually hers, although the very high-end soprano wailing is surely Ms. Anchevskaya herself.

The arrangements here are all basically repetitive bass lines, beat tracks and what sounds like a bit of real drumming as well, along with what I assume to be synthesizers and guitar providing a bit of contrast. There's also very little variation from song to song, even less on their last album. Nothing here sounds even remotely folk, and very little is progressive by even the loosest definition of the term.

I've played this all the way through several times trying to get into it, or at least to identify a few highlights. Hard to do either given this is basically a goth-like variation on trip-hop with lots of layered female vocal tracks, and not at all what most fans probably thought they were signing up for given the sort of music on the two records that preceded it. And the opening "You Shall Dance" and "Rose Geranium Reseda" at least feature plenty of awe-inspiring vocal range, so the album is not completely without merit.

Still, this is an odd deviation for the group and at best should be seen as an experiment that might have been well-intentioned, but didn't really work out. Two stars just because hardcore fans of the band (and I suspect they have quite a few) probably have their reasons for liking this one. For me I can live without it.

peace

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 Sorrow Sounds by RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Sorrow Sounds
Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn) Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
3 stars The most noticeable difference with Rada & Ternovnik's second studio album is a greater continuity to the music. While the band's first album fluctuated between lazy, minimal folk and dark interpretations of various dance themes, this one is pretty consistently just dark and poetic.

Lead singer and band leader Rada Anchevskaya is said to have a 3-1/2 octave vocal range, which was not really in evidence on their first release. It is here, and early on with a chilling chorus on 'Close Your Ears', a song whose vocals are so piercing that closing one's ears is basically not possible. I've also read Rada sings in an older dialect of Russian, one that predates the Soviet era. I'm sure that must endear her to more traditional Russians, and while anyone not versed in Russian likely won't notice the difference it is apparent she takes great care in her lyrical work and vocal phrasings.

The guitar work is also considerably more pronounced and ambitious on this album, with guitarist Vladimir Anchevsky ranging much further into somber, sometimes psychedelic- tinged forays of sound on songs like 'Dream', 'Blues' and 'Memories', most of which find Rada less bombastic but still in great command of her considerable vocal talent ('Blues' being the exception in which Rada belts out some chilling soprano atop a ripping guitar riff).

This is a much shorter record than their prior one, with nine tracks and an overall more homogeneous sound. No one tune stands out in particular, though the title track features a persistent bass line and seductive guitar riff that holds the listener despite the rather lengthy and rambling arrangement.

Rada & Ternovnik seemed to be still trying to find their groove with 'Sorrow Sounds', but there are noticeable improvements in the musical arrangements, in Vladimir Anchevsky's guitar work, in the strength of the rhythms, and most importantly in the employment of Rada Anchevskaya's monumental vocal talents. Like their first album this is a three-start effort, but the stage is being set for more ambitious music and a long run of interesting and varied studio and live releases. Check this one out and consider it the band's introduction to a decade of memorable music.

peace

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 Grafiks by RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Grafiks
Rada & Ternovnik (the Blackthorn) Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
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.

peace

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