Thursday, April 30, 2015

Silent Woo Goore - "Toleźe" [2012]

Artist: Silent Woo Goore
Title: Toleźe
Genre: Folk-Rock, Progressive Rock
Country: Russia (Udmurtia)
Year: 2014

Track List:
  1. Kyrdźasa leźom ali
  2. Toleźe
  3. Gureź örjos
  4. Emeźe
  5. Kyźy meda lyktidy
  6. Töl
  7. Sirotа kyrdźan (Сиротская)
  8. A-i
  9. Alama ujvöt
  10. Chagyr dydyke
  11. Silent Woo Goore
To my knowledge, Silent Woo Goore, formed in mid-2008 in Izhevsk, are the only folk-rock band singing in Udmurt language. While the first word in their name is obviously English, "Woo Goore" is in Udmurt and (according to the band) means "song of water". So, "Silent Woo Goore" = "Silent Song of Water".

When I stumbled upon this album for the first time, it was tagged as "indie", so I initially assumed it to be some hipster garbage. It, however, turned out to be quite interesting and well played folk-rock with female vocals. "Toleźe", meaning "My Moon" is their first and only album up to date. It was recorded in August 2011 in Finland (except for the track "Töl", recorded one month earlier in Izhevsk). The digital version of "Toleźe" (including mp3s, album covers and song lyrics) is completely free to download.

After "Toleźe", SWG haven't released anything new so far, although their vocalist Svetlana Ruchkina has a solo project called Ladi Sveti. However, SWG actively perform live in their home region - just search for "Silent Woo Goore" on Youtube. Here's, for example, a video of them performing with a symphonic orchestra of Udmurtia:

They also have participated in the Liet International 2011 festival. As I already said in my entry about Marina Sadova, Liet Int. is an annual festival for the artists singining in minority languages. By the way, there was another Udmurt band (called IB&4CP) at Liet Int. 2012.

Monday, April 27, 2015

VÖR - "Kudym Osh" [2014]

Artist: VÖR
Title: Kudym Osh
Genre: Atmospheric Black/Pagan Metal
Country: Russia (Komi-Permyak Region)
Year: 2014

Track List:
  1. Kudym Osh I
  2. Kudym Osh II
  3. Kudym Osh III
  4. Kudym Osh IV
  5. Kudym Osh V
  6. Kudym Osh VI
  7. Kudym Osh VII
  8. Kudym Osh VIII
VÖR is an one-man project started by Egor "Nordhagen" with an intention of being the first black/pagan metal project with lyrics based on the Komi mythology. The music is based on atmospheric black metal, with addition of some folk elements.

The production isn't crystal clear for sure, but it's suprisingly good for a self-produced underground black metal album. The lyrics are in Russian, and Egor's vocals are pretty decipherable for the most part. I'm not sure if it's a good thing, though, especially taking in consideration that Egor apparently can speak Komi fluently. There already are enough Russophone black and pagan metal bands, why not have one singing in Komi for a change?..

The music isn't bad at all, especially for the debut release of an obscure one-man project, and the atmosphere of "epicness" is certainly present on this album, but apart from the lyrical matter (Komi mythology), it doesn't particularly stand out from numerous other releases of this kind. If you want something similar, but more folk metal-based and with lyrics in a Finno-Ugric language, check out Zergeyth.

Pairem - demo singles

Artist: Pairem
Title: demo tracks
Genre: Folk Metal, Symphonic Metal
Country: Russia (Mari El)

Track List:
  1. Сола вуйыштет
  2. Олык воктен
  3. Какшан воктен
  4. Мари калыкем
  5. Эн лишыл айдеме
Finally, after listening to a lot of Mari pop-folk, I found something that can be called Mari folk metal. Pairem seem to be an extremely obscure band, yet I managed to find some info about them (but not much).

Pairem was formed in 2008 by the members of a non-metal band "Brodyagi" and the vocalist Elvira Kuray with an intention to play folk rock/metal with lyrics in Mari language. They took part in a folk music festival IFUSCO in Helsinki (Finland) in May 2008, and recorded at least 5 demo tracks in late 2000s. By now, the band don't seem to be active.

The tracks which I could find mostly sound as generic female fronted symphonic metal with some folk elements. Sounds nice but nothing special, although I should give them a credit for being the first metal band to sing in Mari.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Risha - "Птаха" [2011]

Artist: Risha
Title: Птаха
Genre: Industrial Folk Metal
Country: Russia
Year: 2011

Track List:
  1. Голубка
  2. Масленица
  3. Птаха
Risha is an industrial folk project of Irina "RishaFox" Lvova, who played bass and cello in several bands that are well-known locally, including Deform, Tracktor Bowling and Arkona. With all honesty, most of her other bands are playing not very interesting nu-metal, and I'm not a big fan of bands like Arkona either (even though I've seen them live a few years ago, and it wasn't bad at all). Risha, however, is a quite interesting project, being a rare combination of industrial/modern metal and traditional folk. They also were one of the first to combine folk with drum'n'bass (along with Нейромонах Феофан). Irina's voice is a bit too low-pitched for my taste, but she isn't a bad singer at all.

Here's, in my opinion, the best their song, featuring Lousine "Lou" Gevorkyan (Tracktor Bowling, Louna) as a second vocalist:

It's from their full-length album which also came out in 2011. While their full-length is copyrighted and better be bought, this single is released under the terms of CC BY-NC-ND license, and therefore completely free:

Marina Sadova - Mari El folk/pop

Speaking of folk music in Finno-Ugric languages, I'd like to present you Marina Sadova from Mari El. Her native Mari language is definitely more "exotic" than Finnish or Hungarian, but I live not so far from Mari El and have more personal connection to that place than to the other regions populated by Finno-Ugric people. You may learn more about that place with help of this wikipedia page (which is quite biased, though).

From my impression, Mari language sounds equally distant from both Finnish and Hungarian (for my ears, it's more resembling Hungarian than Finnish, but in linguistics, Mari is grouped together with the latter). I discovered Marina Sadova because of this video, which was spammed by someone on's /wm/ board like there's no tomorrow, and has spread from there to many English-speaking imageboards as well:

However, I like this one better, even if it sounds rather "pop" than "folk":

This is the case with most of her songs, but it's definitely not the worst kind of pop music (at least she actually can sing, unlike a lot of other pop singers):

Here's her performance at the Mari El Radio concert in 2013, with two her friends as stage dancers. While it also doesn't have much to do with the folk stuff like in the first video, you still can enjoy beautiful and talented Mari girls doing their best on stage :) As far as my tastes go, it's especially nice to see Marina wearing a short dress and high heels (and her two long-legged friends look very good too):

If I'm not mistaken, the video below was filmed in Yurino. I've been to there around 15 years ago, when I was ~12 years old, and it's the only place in Mari El I've visited so far (although I plan to visit Yoshkar-Ola or Kozmodemyansk this summer):

The biggest Marina's success so far is her performance on Liet International Festival 2014 - a festival for the bands and artists singing in minority languages which took place in Oldenburg (Germany). Here's her profile on the official site of the festival (albeit it isn't very informative).

I couldn't find much more information about her, except for her date of birth (3 May 1997). Here are all her songs I could find, including the Russian versions of two of her songs, and one song she performed as a part of  the "Yandar" duo:

Looks like Mari El has a thriving pop-folk scene (other Finno-Ugric regions near me, like Mordovia or Udmurtia, doesn't seem to have anything like this), with mostly female singers, but I haven't explored it thoroughly yet. Here's another good song of this kind, although the singer's voice isn't quite as strong as Marina's:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Loituma - "Kuutamolla" [1998]

Artist: Loituma
Title: Kuutamolla
Genre: Folk
Country: Finland
Year: 1998

Track List:
  1. Hiekkarantakuhertelua
  2. Tähden lentäessä
  3. Kultaansa kuuleva
  4. Laulu laiskana pitävi
  5. Nuustielle
  6. Utu
  7. Inttäjäispolska
  8. Menuetti
  9. Mikaelin kirkonkellot
  10. Kuutamolla kahden
  11. Salaisia kyyneleitä
In my previous entry, I mentioned Loituma in the context of being an "one-hit wonder", due to their well-known song "Ievan Polkka" (often misspelled as "Levan Polkka" or "Leva's Polka") that became an internet meme in the 2000s. A lot of people got an unfortunate perception of Loituma being a joke band because of that song, which is completely untrue. Actually, Loituma were one of the best 90's nordic folk collectives, and they have released two full-length albums before the "Ievan Polkka" single.

Here's one of these albums, released in 1998. If you expect to hear danceable a-capella songs like "Ievan Polkka" on there, you're going to be disappointed - but it's strongly recommended if you like melancholic acoustic folk (without the prefix "neo-") with female vocals, and especially if you enjoy the sound of kantele. The best track on "Kuutamolla" in my opinion is "Nuustielle", but the rest of the album is nice too, especially two last tracks. Visit the comment section of this excellent blog for the music.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Нейромонах Феофан - "Лапти разбить об пол" [2012-2014]

Artist: Нейромонах Феофан
Title: Лапти разбить об пол
Genre: Drum and Bass, Neurofunk, Electro-Folk
Country: Russia
Year: 2012-2014

Track List:
  1. Асмодеев на кол!
  2. Драм для Ивана
  3. Камыш
  4. Козаки (full ver)(Bonus)
  5. Козаки
  6. Лапти разбить об пол
  7. Любите Русь, Любите Драм (Новогодняя)
  8. Мужицкая силушка
  9. Нейромонах Феофан
  10. Пляски с медведем
  11. Посевная
  12. Сильная Воля и Крепкий Дух
  13. Холодно в лесу
  14. Я буду с тобою
  15. Драм и Светлая Русь
  16. Кое-что
  17. Лесные зобавы(ver. 1)
  18. Лесные зобавы(ver. 2)
  19. Мне под Драм легко 
Today, on April Fools' Day, it's the best time to post something which started as a 100% joke project but eventually evolved into something bigger. There isn't much known about Нейромонах Феофан except it's an one-man project which started to produce music circa 2012, combining D'n'B/neurofunk sound with folk metal vocals and imagery. The result turned out to be surprisingly interesting - at least I can't name any other project which sounds like this, especially on our post-USSR scene which rarely produces something really original.

Even though the project wasn't serious by any means and never strived for more or less wide popularity, it suddenly went viral in 2014. I'd compare it to the well-known phenomenon of "Ievan Polkka" by Loituma, when a simplistic folk tune makes an "OMG why I just can't stop listening to this shit"-effect. In the wake of his unexpected popularity, Нейромонах Феофан released a professionally produced 17-track LP a couple of months ago. It consists of his early demo tracks plus one new song which is great too:

Moreover, he gave two live shows (in Moscow and St.Petersburg) just a couple of weeks ago. While he continues to keep his identity strictly anonymous, rumours say he's from St.Petersburg - which I find believable, since that city has enough people with an appropriate sense of humour to produce such kind of music.

If someone wonders how his moniker should sound in English - I believe it should be "Theophanus the Neuromonk" or something like that. Yes, he does maintain a scenic image of a hermit monk whose only entertainment is producing D'n'B/neurofunk. Sounds hilarious, right? His lyrics are based on even more hilarious stereotypes, but I'm afraid I lack appropriate skills to translate it properly. As for the music, it's a bit repetitive but not bad for a self-produced joke project. I'm not a big fan of either traditional folk music or drum'n'bass, but this particular combination of these two genres is awesome. I'd call it "turbofolk", if this term wasn't already in use...

The tracks included in the link below are demo tracks from 2012-2014. If you prefer the professional quality of production, consider buying an album which came out in 2015.