Obiymy Doschu (Обійми Дощу), translates to ‘Rain’s Embrace’, so I was led to believe, although literal translations can sometimes be misleading or even incorrect. So Google translate would suggest a permutation, Embrace The Rain. It matters little and I mention it only in that there seems to be some confusion as to the title of this, the second album from Ukraine’s Obiymy Doschu. So Coh appears to be titled Son, but bracketed Dream. I wrongly assumed the latter of the two to be the more accurate, however Vladimir Agafonkin kindly took the time to let me know – but more on this later.
Straight to the point, I like this album and furthermore, it has grown on me immensely over the past few weeks. Now music, and how or why it appeals will hopefully remain one of life’s mysteries, so for whatever reasons, there’s music that appeals and conversely music that does not. Mistakingly swayed by the blurb surrounding the band’s debut album, Elehia (2009), and to a certain extent this latest release, I preconceived that the music of Obiymy Doschu would not be for me. How wrong I was!
As it turned out Elehia, the “disappearing album” (nothing lost in translation here, I just kept misplacing it 😉 ), contained several delightful tracks. Mainman, acoustic guitarist and vocalist Vladimir Agafonkin possess an engaging and warm voice and his melodies and hook-lines are strong and memorable. The heaviness in the music is well balanced by the more delicate passages. The drawbacks I found with Elehia were that a couple of the tracks were a tad too long and one-paced, and the production was somewhat lacklustre. However I concluded my review of Elehia by saying – “I will certainly be keeping an ear open for this band…”
So rounding off this rather lengthy intro, earlier this month and during a massive culling of the burgeoning CD racks, I stumbled across the “disappearing album” and I reacquainted myself with the music. My interest piqued, I looked to see if the band had released any other material, they had, in 2017, with the release of their second album Son (Coh).
What’s immediately evident, even from the opening string ensemble, is that the production values have stepped up a few echelons. A shrewd and essential move really, as Obiymy Doschu’s music was pretty much ‘full on’ on Elehia, and here on Son (Coh), they have ramped up the ante somewhat. Reading through the online notes this becomes more transparent as the band have enlisted The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord (mixing) and Steve Kitch (mastering).
Album opener, Ostannya Myt’ reaffirms the Obiymy Doschu sound, and then quickly shifts up several gears. As the haunting strings subside I am reminded of Vladimir Agafonkin’s keen ear for a good melody line, which he delivers warmly and in his native tongue. Ballsy metallic riffing, embedded in rich layers of strings moves the track along, adding both bite and warmth. Notable across this opening statement is saxophonist Boris Khodorkovskiy who turns in some scintillating passages.
Aware that this is already a long review, and I’ve only touched on one track, I’ll look to some highlights from across the release and not dwell too much on each individual track. So onto track two 😉 …
Another infectious song with some lovely touches, especially Olena Nesterovska’s viola, however icing on the cake has to be the all too brief, but charming flute, acoustic guitar and string instrumental halfway through. The expression “worth the admission fee” applies.
The album’s ballad comes in the form of Razom, sweet, perhaps a little too sweet for me, but it certainly sticks in the cerebral regions long after it’s finished. It does however act as a neat pre-cursor to one of the albums standout tracks, Temna Rika, slightly more lightweight than some on the album, although it does beef up towards the end. It also has another of those hook-laden choruses that you simply cannot get out of your head, even if I have no idea what it’s about. So this might be as good a time as any then to touch on the vocals. Vladimir Agafonkin chooses to sing in his native tongue, which I wholeheartedly applaud, but a turn off for some perhaps? Well, a glance at the translated lyrics would suggest that the flow of the songs might be somewhat stilted if sung in English, and in turn, lose much of its charm.
*Subsequent to this review being published I discovered: “Vladimir speaks English fluently and sings comfortably without accent. But he chooses not to. We love Ukrainian language and strongly believe it’s a perfect fit for our music.”. Me too…
For fear of repeating myself I’ll just say that the title track is a hook-filled rocker, with a driving rhythm that gets the feet tapping, and yes you guessed it, a catchy melody. Worth mentioning then that without full insight to the lyrical content we may well be forgiven to presuppose a lack of depth. The write-up however tells us: “Songs from the album tell a story about the struggle and difficulties a person faces in a modern urbanistic, globalized world, a journey from the lowest point of fall to a free flight, from death to rebirth. So if we can trust the translation, these lines from Son (Coh) seem to resonate:
“I saw kids
Tormented by hunger
While someone wealthy nearby
Casually played golf.”
Trump that if you can…
Elsewhere the bluesy rocker Kimnata has a wonderful jazzy flute middle section, courtesy again of Boris Khodorkovskiy, and one I believe Mr van Leer would be proud of. Of the three short instrumentals, the floating timbres of Novyi Pochatok works best and allows guitarist Aleksey Katruk to play some tasteful parts. Talking of tasteful, guest guitarist Sergey Gryzlov rips up some blistering fret on the album closer, which also features a guest vocalist, the delightful Olga Skripova.
I could go on, (oh please don’t Bob!), but if I haven’t whet your appetite by now, then a few hundred more words ain’t going to do it either. I’ll conclude then by saying on the strength of this release I genuinely believe if Obiymy Doschu were based in Western Europe, and if Vladimir Agafonkin had forsaken his desire to sing in his native tongue, we would have heard a lot more about this band. Regardless, I think they should be heard…
I’ll leave you with this live footage of the band performing Kryla, yep, the one above and the one with the “worth the admission fee” instrumental section.
01. Ostannya Myt’ (The Last Moment) (8:36)
02. Kryla (Wings) (10:10)
03. Razom (Together) (7:33)
04. Temna Rika (The Dark River) (11:09)
05. Nazustrich Tyshi (Facing The Silence) (4:10)
06. Kimnata (The Room) (5:13)
07. Interludiya (Interlude) (1:13)
08. Сoh (Son) (7:12)
09. Zemle Moya Myla (My Dear Land) (5:07)
10. Novyi Pochatok (A New Beginning) (4:34)
11. Yanhol (Angel) (7:25)
Total Time – 72:22
Vladimir Agafonkin — Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Mykola Kryvonos — Bass Guitar, Choir Vocals (9), Percussion (10)
Aleksey Katruk — Electric Guitars
Olena Nesterovska — Viola
Yaroslav Gladilin — Drums, Percussion
Yevhen Dubovyk — Keyboards, Piano
Kyrylo Bondar — Violin
Anastasiya Shypak — Violin
Andrey Aleksandrov — Cello (tracks 1,2,4,5,9 & 10)
Artem Zamkov — Cello (tracks 1,3,4 & 11)
Boris Khodorkovskiy — Sax (tracks 1 & 10), Flutes (tracks 2,4,6 & 11)
Olga Skripova — Vocals (track 11), Backing Vocals
Sergey Gryzlov — Solo Guitar (track 11)
Oleksandra Kryvonos — Choir Vocals (track 9)
Maksym Homyakevych — Choir Vocals (track 9)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Ukraine
Date of Release: 17th November 2017