One the best aspects of reviewing music is that you get to hear new and interesting sounds from around the globe. Indeed it seems that music can be universal, crossing the world, uniting people and connecting them across different countries and continents.
With this in mind let me introduce you to Kshettra, a bass/drum duo of Boris Ghas and Viktor Tikhanov, from Moscow in Russia. They formed in 2007, initially as a duo but became a trio when Saxophonist Boris Peplin joined the ranks. In 2010 they returned to gig activity with guitarist Nikita Gabdullin on board, around this time starting to record what would become their debut album, “i”, which would become a partnership between the band and artist/illustrator Mila Kiselva with each CD contained a unique piece of art hand-painted by Mila. After the release of “i” Nikita departed and in late 2013 Boris and Viktor returned to playing as a duo again.
In 2015 they recorded the Yar EP and began to work on material which they had been playing live for use on this new album, Five Mothers. Boris and Viktor met saxophonist and brass player Ramille Mulikov, a great addition to their sound who became an important contributor to the new album. Kshettra’s music could be described as a crossover of jazz fusion, avant-garde and experimental with heavy rock and punky touches. This all goes to help construct some great progressive, complex, challenging and original music.
There are three long pieces here, ranging from almost 10-minutes to over 13 where they get to stretch themselves and experiment. The longest track, Walking Under The Moon, begins with the reciting of a poem, then the music begins in a slow-burn groove which ebbs and flows with a cinematic feel, almost like the soundtrack to a creepy sci-fi film noir. The synths support this feel, all the while Ramille providing his interesting touches which hold the attention.
Mechanoya begins with sound effects before the bass and drums join in. The song bubbles and develops, the bass becoming very jazzy with twists and turns as the synths add atmosphere before the song starts to almost stutter and shudder towards the end. Interesting and clever stuff which reveals more on each listen. The third of the long tracks, Godzindra, offers us a change of pace, sounding as if it is influenced by Indian and perhaps even Arabic music. The Indian influence is borne out by the fact that they use samples from the 1973 album Pallavi: South Indian Flute to provide added textures to the song.
The remaining shorter tracks continue the experimental feel, from the atmospheric opener Conception to the closer Crossing where a sitar makes an appearance in what is a harsh one minute piece to end the album.
Throughout the album, the bass is prominent, interlocking with the drums in the fine tradition of the likes of Primus and Nomeansno, but that said Kshettra manage to maintain their own identity. Rammille’s contribution should not be taken lightly, adding his saxophone, trumpet and trombone which are all carefully placed, often with a subtlety which goes to make it all the more interesting. The interplay between the instruments appears so natural, each playing with and off each other. Boris, Viktor and Ramille have bonded together well and discovered a great formula for future success.
The whole album has a lot to give and each play reveals something new, it captivates and draws you in and is certainly worthy of investigation. I look forward to where they will go with their next album. If you like your music to challenge and be a little different, give it a listen. I’m glad I did, it’s an excellent album.
01. Conception (2:01)
02. Garura Lila (3:56)
03. Cikada (5:43)
04. Godzindra (9:54)
05. Walk Under The Moon (13:20)
06. Umbra (6:33)
07. Mechanoya (12:00)
08. Crossing (1:09)
Total Time – 54:36
Boris Ghas – Bass, Poem (track 5), Samples (track 4)
Viktor Tikhonov – Drums, Oxoma Synth (tracks 1,5,6 & 7), Samples (tracks 3,4 & 7)
~ With Guests:
Ramille Mulikov – Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone
Nikolai Samarin – Synth (tracks 4 & 5), Double Bass (track 1), Mandolin (tracks 4 & 7), Sitar (track 8)
Eugeniy Mikhalchenko – Voice (track 5)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Russia
Date of Release: 20th January 2017