Following on from their critically acclaimed long running instrumental collaboration “Burnt Belief” Colin Edwin (bass) and Jon Durant (guitars) have joined forces once again, this time with pre-eminent Ukrainian vocalist Inna Kovtun on their eponymous new recording.
It’s no mistake that the album cover image features a bridge, as Edwin, Durant and Kovtun have drawn on their past influences and wealth of experience to connect and blend seemingly unrelated musical environments, namely traditional Ukrainian and Slavic folk elements with slices of modern electronica, unexpected twists of the more progressive end of rock and a full range of deep atmospherics and dreamy ambient textures. The resulting album showcases an unfamiliar but highly captivating and approachable sonic landscape that encompasses epic time honoured melodies supported by substantial rhythmic foundations and embellished by Durant’s ornate and innovative approach to the guitar.
With artfully assembled soundscapes complementing Inna Kovtun’s vivid and evocative vocals, at certain moments this material shares a similar emotional character and ethereal atmospheric territory to the likes of Dead Can Dance or even The Cocteau Twins, and to Western ears, the unfamiliar vocalisations are certainly a common thread. Colin Edwin explains, “I never needed to understand what Elizabeth Fraser or Lisa Gerrard were singing, the layers of vocals were highly engaging to me, and there was a clear communication of emotions, in a sense Inna has a very similar approach but it’s rooted in her experiences as a folk singer and having worked a lot with all those close Eastern harmonies”
Highlights of the album include the earthy and primal Harvest which develops from a heavy, percolating rhythm, to an urgent and insistent bassline punctuated by traditional Ukrainian wind instruments, and is lead to a simmering peak by Durant’s unrelenting guitars. Walking Wheel showcases an expansive melodic vista built around an exceptional and epic vocal arrangement by Inna Kovtun. The otherworldly and propulsive electronica of Hannochka is a highly distinctive and evocative take on a traditional folk refrain, and clearly illustrates the artist's fresh approach to these sometimes timeless themes.
“Ukrainian music is sadly under represented around the world,” says Durant. “It’s a strong culture that goes back over a thousand years, and much of western Europe and America have absolutely no idea about it. We’ve tried hard to bring some of these wonderful ancient melodies to a new life, using very modern production and creative ideas. All the while keeping the song forms quite accessible.”