Various Artists

Rough Guide To the Music of Russian Gypsies

Rough Guides RG1214CD


Full Price (64mins + 43 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

With the exception of the excellent ‘Russian Gypsy Soul’ double CD on Network a few years back, Russian Gypsy music has received next to no exposure compared to artists from Central Europe, despite the respected music of the Ruska Roma within Russia itself, long co-opted into popular mainstream styles like the shanson. Three elements make up the core of this selection by journalist Dan Rosenberg: virtuosic guitar playing, conservatory-honed violin skills, and full-throated vocal arrangements, with most of the recordings coming from a handful of family bands. There are liberal helpings of both the rootsy – Loyko’s ‘Sare Patrya,’ will appeal to fans of Czech Diva Vera Bila with its uptempo, sweet harmonies – and the kitsch, courtesy of Nikolai Erdenko and Igor Krykunov with their acoustic Soviet ‘restaurant music’. Amid the brazen heartstring twanging, the raw vocal duo L.P. Mikhay & T. Mikhailova’s ‘Opa, Dad’ and M. Buzilev’s smoke-ridden ‘Vanka’ leap out as welcome chunks of raw authenticity. The bonus double CD of the Kolpakov Duo – two outstanding seven string guitarists – is more consistent. Far too much reverb makes for a musical treacle effect that sticks to the ears, but underneath is plenty of agile playing and yearning, romantic singing.

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