The electronics will strike you first. At various times frenetic, moody and ritualistic, they do more than simply decorate these seven pieces. They are the album’s solid, sometimes gritty foundation.
As appealing as they are, don’t let them distract you from the larger purpose of this exceptional new disc. Kazakhstan’s Angelina Yershova has delivered a kind of audio treatise on nature preservation and the environment.
According to the album’s notes, the music has been written to represent “the passage of time, in which nothing can remain unchanged and everything is subjected to change.”
A video produced for the album’s opening track “Korgau,” by Saltanat Tashimova, is dedicated to Kok Zhailau’s Ile-Alatau State National Park, where deforestation and sustainability are significant concerns.
The park was established in 1996. Its roughly 200,000 hectares feature extensive woodlands, alpine meadows, glaciers and lakes. It’s also home to 300 bird species, snow leopards, the Central Asian lynx, Tian Shan brown bears, Central Asian stone martens, Siberian ibexes, bearded vultures and golden eagles.
The traditional Kazakh instruments kobyz and kyl kobyz, both performed by noted artist Gulzhan Amanzol, are a powerfully mournful addition. They are a sad album’s tears, beautiful and impossible to forget.
Amanzol’s contributions represent “a ‘human dimension’ created by emissions, and an aspiration towards ascension.” Yershova further shrouds her ecological messages in tense drones and whispered vocals.
There is an obvious question raised by all of this. Given the range of emotions presented throughout the album, are we to assume that Yershova is pessimistic about the future of the planet and its sustainability?
“It is true that the album has dark sounds, but I don’t think it means that it is sad or pessimistic,” she told me. “In general, I believe in inevitable recovery and in the growth of human awareness. Everyone must make a commitment to protect our planet. There are so many problems, but as we say hope drives action.”
The Moderns, vols. 1 and 2, by Kevin Press are available exclusively from Amazon.
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