Five Mothers

by Kshettra

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released January 20, 2017

The album was recorded in april-october 2016 at Orange Studio, Moscow, Russia
Sound engineering, mixing and mastering - Nikolai Samarin

Boris Ghas - bass, poem (5), samples (4)
Viktor Tikhonov - drums, Oxoma synth (1,5,6,7), samples (3,4,7)

Ramille Mulikov - sax, trumpet, trombone
Nikolai Samarin - synth (4,5), double bass (1), mandolin (4,7), sitar (8)
Eugeniy Mikhalchenko - voice (5)

All music by Boris and Viktor except tracks 1 and 8 by Nikolai. Brass arrangement by Boris, Viktor and Ramille.
Samples in "Godzindra" from "Pallavi: South Indian Flute Music" LP, 1973
Artwork - Mila Kisileva, foto - Andrei Nikolaev
Layout design - Dmitry Papkovich
Oxoma synth made by ::vtol::

"Kshettra is a Russian ambient jazz duo putting a major emphasis on Oriental folkloric music and instruments. Fundamentally, it’s a drum and bass duo, but they also play Oxoma synth, samples, and invited guests for brass instruments, mandolin, sitar, and singing, among others. The album is entrancing and meditative, and an interesting experiment in which to let yourself sink."
Can This Even Be Called Music?

'The album consists of eight tracks exploring different abstract soundscapes. I am not certain how eight different tracks relate to the title Five Mothers. The only reference to five is the five different pieces of art by Mila Kisileva. The cover art is an abstract face and the others are stylized pictures of possible Indian deities (dragon, moth, spider, and an alligator-headed woman dancer). There are three tracks in the 10 to 13 minute range and the remainder six minutes or less. All are highly experimental and I find it difficult to picture Kshettra playing this music live in Moscow clubs. These must be clubs frequented by the avant garde and academics. Kshettra’s music requires concentration, be it for the abstract orchestral chords of the opening “Conception” or the longer experimental tracks with rhythmic pulsating synths, scraping noises, bass, occasional brass, and drums. One track, “Walk under the Moon” features Eugeny reciting a poem written by Boris titled “Drunken Buddha” followed by abstract drones, odd noises, and Ramille’s beautiful trumpet artistry that references Miles Davis. So if you are up for some adventuresome music and intriguing artwortk, Five Mothers might be just what you are looking for"
Exposé Music Newsletter

"In 2015 they recorded the Yar EP and began to work on material which they had been playing live for use on this new album, Five Mothers. Boris and Viktor met saxophonist and brass player Ramille Mulikov, a great addition to their sound who became an important contributor to the new album. Kshettra’s music could be described as a crossover of jazz fusion, avant-garde and experimental with heavy rock and punky touches. This all goes to help construct some great progressive, complex, challenging and original music.
There are three long pieces here, ranging from almost 10-minutes to over 13 where they get to stretch themselves and experiment. The longest track, Walking Under The Moon, begins with the reciting of a poem, then the music begins in a slow-burn groove which ebbs and flows with a cinematic feel, almost like the soundtrack to a creepy sci-fi film noir. The synths support this feel, all the while Ramille providing his interesting touches which hold the attention.
Mechanoya begins with sound effects before the bass and drums join in. The song bubbles and develops, the bass becoming very jazzy with twists and turns as the synths add atmosphere before the song starts to almost stutter and shudder towards the end. Interesting and clever stuff which reveals more on each listen. The third of the long tracks, Godzindra, offers us a change of pace, sounding as if it is influenced by Indian and perhaps even Arabic music. The Indian influence is borne out by the fact that they use samples from the 1973 album Pallavi: South Indian Flute to provide added textures to the song.
The remaining shorter tracks continue the experimental feel, from the atmospheric opener Conception to the closer Crossing where a sitar makes an appearance in what is a harsh one minute piece to end the album.
Throughout the album, the bass is prominent, interlocking with the drums in the fine tradition of the likes of Primus and Nomeansno, but that said Kshettra manage to maintain their own identity. Rammille’s contribution should not be taken lightly, adding his saxophone, trumpet and trombone which are all carefully placed, often with a subtlety which goes to make it all the more interesting. The interplay between the instruments appears so natural, each playing with and off each other. Boris, Viktor and Ramille have bonded together well and discovered a great formula for future success.
The whole album has a lot to give and each play reveals something new, it captivates and draws you in and is certainly worthy of investigation. I look forward to where they will go with their next album. If you like your music to challenge and be a little different, give it a listen. I’m glad I did, it’s an excellent album."

"Registrate al Orange Studio di Mosca le otto tracce di “Five Mothers” rappresentano un percorso fantastico dedicato a cinque immaginarie divinità immortalate nell'art-work di copertina. Nessun concetto filosofico quindi - o simbologia religiosa occulta - ma libero spazio all'immaginazione attraverso composizioni prettamente strumentali sporadicamente guidate da un bisbigliato recitato. Come per il precedente “I” il tessuto sonoro affonda le proprie velleità in atmosfere di ispirazione jazz-rock non disdegnando aperture verso contesti ambient. Così dopo un prologo (Conception) dalle tinte space-rock sono desertiche le arie che tratteggiano i tessuti tipicamente fusion di Garura Lila; nel bel mezzo degli accattivanti tempi dispari di Cikada emergono le rigorose linee dettate dal basso di Ghan, mentre a dominare la scena nell'ipnotico incedere tribale di Godzindra sono le ricercate evoluzioni dei fiati di Mulikov. Tredici minuti di elucubrazioni sonore contrassegnano l'ovattata passeggiata selenica di Walk Under the Moon mentre Tikhonov e le sue percussioni salgono in cattedra nelle energiche improvvisazioni jazzistiche di Umbra. Ad anticipare il succinto epilogo Crossing è Mechanova, brano di durata estesa (dodici minuti) dal suggestivo stampo sperimentale, quasi cinematografico. Si rivela una proposta convincente quella offerta dai Kshettra (moniker che in sanscrito significa terra sacra); il combo capitanato da Ghan-Tikhonov dispensa una performance tecnica di livello che raggiunge l'intento di proiettare l'ascoltatore di turno sulle ali di uno sconfinato e seducente volo musicale. Con estremo piacere possiamo dire 'buone nuove da Mosca'."

"Diese Russen passen prima in den Dunstkreis des R.A.I.G.Labels, denn für sie gilt wie für so einige Kollegen aus dem Mutterland (RE-STONED, VESPERO …): atemberaubend hohe Spielkultur, visionäre Klangkulissen und Traditionspflege mit modernem Anspruch.
KSHETTRA zeichnen sich durch stark perkussiv geprägten Post Rock mit Psych- und Prog-Anwandlungen hervor, wenn man das ungefähr so sagen kann. Bass und Schlagzeug führen an, wobei Effekte ebenso zum Einsatz kommen wie neuerdings verstärkt Blechbläser (Trompete), was ein wenig Canterbury- bzw. Jazzrock-Feeling vermittelt.
Das mathematische 'Cikada' mit seinem stotternden Rhythmus würde eingedenk härterer Gitarren auch auf die Noise-Rock-Schiene der 1990er passen, während 'Godzindra' mit Flöte einen Hauch von Orient verweht. 'Walk Under The Moon' und 'Mechanoya' sind aufgrund ihrer länge von jeweils mehr als zehn Minuten letztlch die Kernstücke des Albums und erklären wohl, dass sich KSHETTRA vor allem als künstlerische Rockband mit starken Bezügen zu Soundtracks verstehen:
Der erste der beiden Tracks, der quasi im Auge des Sturms angesiedelt ist, verschmilzt Drones, dumpfes Pochen wie unter Wasser und nordisch kühle Bläser-Tupfer zu einem sehr anschaulichen Bild im Kopf, das irgendwie nur zu Russland passen kann. Zweiterer gerät besonders hypnotisch, ohne dass sich Gas und Tikhonov auf einen Groove einpendeln würden. Deshalb schraubt sich das Stück stetig hoch und endet im rein Geräuschhaften. Nicht leicht zu fassen, aber definitiv spannend mitzuvollziehen.
Mehrere Hördurchläufe sind unerlässlich und lohnen auch. KSHETTRA machen sich als Gratwandler zwischen epischer Breite und knalliger, wenn auch um die Ecke gedachter Kompaktheit ('Garura Lila', 'Umbra') um den Titel "empfehlenswerte Band für Spürfüchse" verdient.
FAZIT: Prädikat besonders - KSHETTRAs Instrumentalmusik lässt sich nirgendwo konzis einordnen und dürfte dennoch Menschen gefallen, die Progressive Rock in all seinen Schattierungen lieben. Check it out!"

"De harde kern van Kshettra, drummer Tikhonov en bassist Ghas, speelt al sinds 2007 samen. De heren komen uit de buurt van Moskou en maken instrumentale rock die een beetje het midden houdt tussen Tortoise en Van der Graaf Generator.
Denk dus aan zware bassen en stevige drums, met daaronder knersende synthesizers en daarover heen soms een sax, trompet of trombone. Daarbij is de band nogal onder de indruk van Indiase muziek en dito cultuur; Kshettra is Sanskriet voor ‘gebied’, meestal in de zin van ‘heilig land’. Vandaar dus ook het gebruik van sitar en samples van andere Indiase instrumenten.
Drummer Tikhonov speelt de belangrijkste rol; hij is een veelzijdige drummer met een grote interesse in ritmes uit de wereldmuziek. Zijn partijen zijn gelaagd, intelligent en knap gedaan. De bijdragen van de andere muzikanten, inclusief Ghas, zijn minder interessant. Blazer Mulikov is op bijna alle stukken wel te horen, maar de partijen die hij speelt zijn op zich staande figuurtjes die lang niet altijd even goed bij de rest van de muziek passen.
Kshettra speelt drie behoorlijk lange stukken van tien minuten of meer. Eerlijk gezegd worden die stukken daar lang niet altijd beter van. De drummer slaat een ritme en de anderen spelen daar riedeltjes overheen. Niet geïmproviseerd, maar ook niet met een significante opbouw. Het wordt niet per se spannender naarmate het nummer vordert, zeg maar. Het luistert lekker weg, maar blijft niet hangen. Is een noot gespeeld, dan ben je hem ook weer kwijt.
Mooi voorbeeld is Umbra: het begint met stuwende drums en jazzy blazers, maar die worden verjaagd door een veergalm die begint te kletteren en fluiten, de drummer speelt een simpele vierkwarts en daarna een solo met nog meer gedoe terwijl de bassist zijn geluid door een zwik effecten jast. Na drie minuten komen de blazers weer terug en verandert de muziek in een soort Oekraïense boerenbruiloft, dan is er een saxofoonsolo en daarna is het zigeunerorkest nog even terug tot het einde. Geen idee waarom, elke samenhang ontbreekt. Dat is niet erg, als de verschillende stukken dan maar mooi of spannend zijn.
Kshettra moet het dus hebben van sfeer, en dat zit gelukkig wel goed. Ambiance volop, vooral in het duistere Walk Under The Moon, waarin minuten lang bijzonder smaakvol geen moer gebeurt. Daar doet de band even denken aan David Sylvian in zijn goede jaren: een digitaal wolletje, wat gekners en geklapper en daar overheen een ijle trompet. Erg mooi, maar ook weer veel te lang.
“Five Mothers” is al met al een wat onbevredigende luisterervaring. De band hinkt op twee gedachten, wil rocken maar ook chillen, en doet beide onvoldoende. De mannen zijn beter in die ambiënte muziek, maar daar kunnen ze de drums, toch hun sterkste troef, weer niet ten volle uitnutten. Nog maar een nachtje over mediteren, dus."

"Non è quindi facile descrivere quanto ricreato dal gruppo russo, che torna ad appoggiarsi al sax in particolare e ai fiati in generale come strumenti narranti. L’ospite Ramille Mukilov è infatti presente su tutti i brani, immedesimandosi in una vena meditativa ancora più ermetica rispetto al passato. Le “cinque madri” del titolo sono probabilmente le cinque figure divine e “mostriformi” presenti tra copertina, confezione e CD, create da Mila Kiselva, artista con cui i Kshettra hanno stretto sodalizio ai tempi dell’esordio discografico ufficiale. Si è sicuramente mostrata la necessità di apportare nuovi elementi, come i sintetizzatori ed i samplers, suonati per la maggior parte delle volte da Tikhonov, ma che rimangono sempre sullo sfondo (vedi l’iniziale “Conception”) per non turbare un lavoro di insieme che spesso si rivela ripetitivo come un mantra dal vago sapore blasfemo. Lo si evince già in “Garura Lila”, sorta di danza irriverente davanti a un fuoco che scalda chissà quale zona delle steppe russe, rimasta ancorata a tradizioni precedenti alla venuta dei cosacchi. “Cikada” ne è la prosecuzione, divenendo più angosciante e irriverente, affidata ad un certo punto al basso martellante di Ghas, spesso inquietato dai fiati di Mukilov. Un gruppo che potrebbe venire in mente è quello degli italiani Tom Moto del secondo “Allob allen” (2014), avvolti anch’essi in un’atmosfera oscura ed oppressiva, ripercorrendo i sentieri spogli di quello che loro avevano ribattezzato post-prog.
La peculiarità della Russia come luogo che sembra costituire l’anello di congiungimento tra culture viene confermato da “Godzindra”, ancora una volta lasciata alle lunghe divagazioni di basso e agli interventi un po’ subdoli dei fiati, in questa distesa notturna dove aleggia la tensione e che alla fine porta chiaramente in Asia. “Walk Under The Moon” è – per l’appunto – una camminata sotto la luna, assolutamente allucinata e sperimentale, che costituisce una sorta di intermezzo, comunque interessante. Su “Umbra”, invece, torna protagonista il basso, che scandisce inizialmente un andamento allucinato e lento, tra strani sintetizzatori e trombe circensi, forse anche con un particolare carico di rabbia interiore, prima di cominciare a sobbalzare non appena il drumming si mette in moto e lascia entrare il lamento rancoroso del sax. I dodici minuti di “Mechanova” potrebbero rappresentare il lato buio dei già citati Vespero, senza campionamenti in stile Ozric Tentacles ma con un andamento da crossover che ha comunque dei rimandi “cosmico-allucinogeni”, anche grazie agli interventi in secondo piano di Nikolai Samarin al sitar, in cui si viene condotti verso qualche strano deserto sperduto. “Crossing”, invece, chiude l’album tra rumori vari.
Se fare prog vuol dire “progredire” ed andare oltre gli schemi - facendo identificare comunque l’ascoltatore con un modo di sentire -, indipendentemente dalle acrobazie tecniche, allora questa è progressive music. Una forma di espressione che può venir fuori anche nel minimalismo, da ascoltare con una certa attenzione per non rimanerne fuorviati."




Kshettra Железнодорожный, Russian Federation

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