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Theodor Bastard - 2012 - "Oikoumene"

(64:10, Danse Macabre Records)


*****

TRACK LIST:     
             
1. Takaya Mija 5:36
2. Farias 5:26
3. Gerda 5:59
4. Benga 4:44
5. Sagrabat (Diumgo) 3:34
6. Oikoumene 7:41
7. Tapachula 7:09
8. Intifadah 5:13
9. Clean Kron 3:25
10. Sol de Morte 3:44
11. Anubis 4:57
12. Benga (Fun-da-Mental version - remixed by Aki Nawaz) 6:42 

LINEUP:

Yana Veva - vocals, keyboards, mbira, morin khuur, marimba, guiro, bawu
Fedor Svolotch - vocals, guitars, bass, marimba, daf, sound objects, 
	agogo bells, shakers, ukulele, kora, doyra, noises, pads, caxixi
Kusas - djembe, steelpans, congas, Chinese cymbals, seeds, quijada, 
	cabasa, udu, bongos, baskets
	
With:
Ranadhir Ghosh - esraj
Andy Dmitriev - cymbals, drums
Taras Frolov - keyboards, kalimba
Paul Krasnickiy - drums, ashiko, seeds, cymbals, caxixi, darbuka, tambourine
Vladimir Belov - cello
Pavel Hrabrov - bass
Dmitriy Gorenko - didgeridoo
Julien Jacob - vocals
Rampur Rani - sarod
Nick Boyko - talking drum
Zmitser von Holzman - zalejka, panflute, ocarina

Prolusion. Veteran Russian band THEODOR BASTARD started out back in 1996, and in their more than 20 year long history they have almost a dozen studio albums to their name. "Oikoumene" dates back to 2012, as I understand it the album was first self-released by the band, then reissued by German label Danse Macabre Records in 2013.

Analysis. If anything, Theodor Bastard is a band that for me appears to hover around the borders of the progressive rock universe, to the point that it will be very much a subjective opinion which side of that border the band actually does exist in. Those fond of precise, complex overarching structures and compositions assembled in the same kind of methodical manner as for instance classical music will not find to much to enjoy here however. Not that these compositions aren't methodical or sophisticated, but because they focus on different areas altogether in my opinion. Landscapes where words such as flow, mood and atmosphere appears to be rather more important. A defining aspect of this album are the rhythms. In just about all of the songs, the use of drums and various percussion instruments creates what I'd generally describe as tribal rhythms. Rhythms of the kind that gives associations towards ancient times and wild, layered textures of percussion as one might imagine the tribes of old would dance and chant to. The vocals enhance that association, as regular vocals and more ancient style chants, perhaps even shamanistic in nature, alternate. The latter making much more of an impression, and while memory states that this vocal style is dominant that may well be mostly due to the impact this has on this as a total music experience. While a wide array of instruments are used to flavor these landscapes, my main impression is that gliding electronic layers are the primary dominant instrument textures. Plucked string instruments of various kinds are certainly present, a dark cello can be found brooding here and there, but the experience is that the electronic textures are dominant, perhaps even in passages and songs when they aren't really present. They are used in a clever manner, reflecting back to old folk music and ethnic traditions rather than more modern electronic landscapes, further enhancing the associations towards ancient and tribal music. At times rather exotic sounding too, in an altogether good way. One possible way to summarize this music is ancient world music blended in with dream pop, with a slight bit of psychedelic tendencies tossed in for good measure. And in a good way at that. Just about the only real negative I can refer to for this as an album experience is the cold, clinical remixed song that concludes this CD. It feels out of place, out of time and out of quality as well. The one dud on an otherwise inspirational and often hypnotic musical journey.

Conclusion. "Oikoumene" comes across as a most rewarding experience on just about all levels. This is material that in some ways are comparable to early Ozric Tentacles, and perhaps even more to fellow Russian band Ole Lukkoye. Not quite as psychedelic, cosmic or even progressive as any of them, but with a charm, mood and atmosphere that should come across as appealing and tantalizing for many if not most people with an interest in artists of this particular kind.

Progmessor: October 19th, 2017
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Theodor Bastard

Danse Macabre Records


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