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Daria Kulesh - Long Lost Home (Self Release)
Fascinating and enjoyable in equal measure, the title of the Russo-Anglo chanteuse's album cannot be separated from the stories that make up the songs in an collection that is exotic in voice, instrumentation and subject matter. To mix geography and metaphor, the writer could rightfully be described as the Scheherazade of the Steppes.
Within the album the political and the personal are intertwined, along with social and historical commentary, no more so than The Moon and the Pilot, combining personal history, the futility of war, Stalinism and its effect on Ingushetia – the country of Daria's origins, an ancient and proud land between Europe and Asia that became a Soviet state, from which it appears the people have not yet recovered. For all that, it is a song of beauty, tragedy, love and depth, featuring haunting, occasionally soaring vocals and has rightfully received much airwaves love over the months preceding the release of the album.
It is the mixture of the subject matter, the writer’s intriguing voice that has hints of her Russian roots, adding a quality of enigma to a delivery that is as crystal clear as the mountain streams of her ancestors. All these positives make the album step outside anything that could be described as the mainstream and so in my wilder musings and the more fertile corners of my imagination this album is a rediscovered '70s classic, the product of a captivating yet mysterious singer-songwriter, an artefact in its gatefold sleeve so resplendent that its place between Vashti Bunyan and the Incredible String Band only served to highlight its attraction and the number of layers within the package.
The presence of background and explanatory notes in the booklet is both welcome and adds to the enjoyment, in which the exotic nature of the album is underlined by the inclusion of Distant Love a traditional song translated from the original Ingush but presented as a bilingual experience. Dance like a God combines both allusion and description, serving to highlight the literary element of the album with metaphor and allegorical elements there for the unravelling and no more so than in the final song. A CD for everyone, except perhaps unreconstructed Stalinists, listen digest, enjoy, then buy your own Shruti box and see were that will take you.
As a small aside, for those unfamiliar with Daria, she is also a member of the band KARA who recently welcomed Pete Morton to their ranks and are also more than worthy of your interest.