Evgeny Masloboev and Anastasia Masloboeva
Russian Folksongs in the Key of Rhythm
Leo Records CD LR 517
Mid Price (45 mins)
It is what every reviewer hopes for, but rarely gets: an absolute gem of a record that arrives on the doorstep out of nowhere. I’ll get straight to the point: not since Czech star Iva Bittova – of the world’s most hypnotic voices and performers – first cooed and squealed her way into our consciousness with the seminal Bittova & Fajt in 1987, has the simplicity of a voice and drums recording felt so powerful and accomplished. Like another father and daughter duo, Alim and Ferghana Qasimov, the Masloboevs take traditional songs and make them completely their own, but where intensity of the Qasimovs’ poetry is realised through their stratospheric vocal range, Anastasia is quite the opposite: contained and understated, floating above her father’s loosely woven percussive soundscape that comprises drums, glockenspiel, coffee pots and even the kitchen sink. The voice and percussion line-up might be deliberately primitive but the result is anything but: “Holidays” rocks out like a Siberian folk choir doing gospel at a Southern Baptist church; “Bird” is a moody, cinematic winter soundtrack with rolling drums lolloping across the steppe like the night train to Irkutsk, accompanied by owls and crickets; “Arrow” is a timeless sounding folk song with enchanting close harmonies and a beautifully repetitive, incantational quality. Unreservedly recommended.