Sunday, January 16, 2011
Review: Pikapika Teart - Moonberry (2010, Atr0ck)
Do you know many bands from Siberia?
Whatever the case, here’s a group from Krasnoyarsk deserving your attention.
Pikapika Teart begain its life in 2004 with common love for the music of Aranis, King Crimson, Henry Cow, Fred Frith as well as Stravinsky, Schostakovich and Schnittke. The fact that there album is out on the Italian label Altr0ck is the result of Marcello Marinone (the band behind the label) discovering the band’s music on their Myspace in 2006. Thus began an online communication (using translators) about releasing their music on the label, followed by the hardship of finding a proper studio for them to record in. Eventually the obstacles were conquered and we have the opportunity to hear this band’s music.
While many instruments are present, the sound is not dense as to not make out details. In fact their sound is quite “breezy” contributing to the atmosphere of the music, made up of a balance between seriousness and light-heartedness. This is in contrast, for instance, to Yugen’s first album, Labirinto D’acqua, where the vast array of instrumentation was such that it threatened to collapse on the listener’s ears (in a good way) and the sound was this very dense and rich. Here, simplicity in texture volume seems to take precedence and guide the vibe-creation procedure.
Moreover, I appreciate then using an expanded lineup (much like Yugen and Rational Diet), being predominantly classically trained and oriented, allowing for a plethora of sounds to front the tunes, be it the sorrow-filled violin or the cheeky clarinet. Despite their classical training and background, I hear various elements in their music, such as folk, rock and chamber music, all combined to create their own sound, which is an accessible and melodic form of expression.
While the album is mostly instrumental, there are various female vocals fronted shorter tracks sung in Russian (obviously). These provide a quick respite from the album’s thematic atmospheres but also provide their own eerie and unique contribution. In fact the vocal style reminds of the Finnish group Värttinä.
Their music is mostly on the calmer side of matters, mostly moderately paced with occasional bursts of a more aggressive approach appearing. Indeed, there is a strong sense of melancholy permeating from their music, perhaps a cultural influence. It is, however, contrasted with either a lighter or an aggressive section or piece, balancing out the overall tone of the album. On this note, this is something I’d like to hear more from them. I’d love to see them dare and release the leashes somewhat more; give in to the tempers and emotions dominating their music and letting them run a little wild. I also want to mention that what they do on the closing track, Slavyanskaya Prazdnichnaya, is another path I’d love to hear them go on more. In here one hears a little clearer the guitar providing a repeptitive rhythmic backing up riff while the rest of the group, including the second guitar, launch themselves into a charming short tune. This piece shows to me their unique take on the so-called “chamber-rock” theme and I’d love to hear more of the band taking on this direction. Too bad this piece is so short, I’m sure the band could have developed it some more.
All in all, this is a lovely album, coming from a remote place, revealing the talents lurking there, deserving of attention.
I’d recommend this to people who like the merging of folk, classical-lineup and chamber rock into one mesh. I’d also recommend it to folks digging what bands like Yugen, Rational Diet, Aranis, Roz Vitalis, Ensemble Nimbus, Volapuk and even Ciccada (Greek band from Altr0ck’s sister label) are doing.
Available for purchase here