How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Misha Feigin plays a balalaika, which may be only a word from the Beatles' "Back in the USSR" to many people, but becomes here an excellent vehicle for improvisation. He also plays a classical guitar on four of these seven duos (and balalaika on four as well: he plays both on "A Meter Violation").
All seven of these duos pair Feigin's instruments with other strings: dobro (Elliot Sharp), electric guitar (Davey Williams), cello (Craig Hultgren), violin (LaDonna Smith, who also dances on a wooden box on "Balalaikofrenia"), and guitar and banjo (the one and only Eugene Chadbourne). Feigin and co. achieve a remarkable similarity of texture throughout the disc's shifts in instrumentation. This music avoids easy rhythms and common tonalities, as well as, ultimately, facile categorization. Feigin is a masterful and evocative player who displays a determined modernism and generally avoids the folk clichés that one might expect from a balalaika player: there's no Russian wedding reception music being played here.
Through it all, Feigin creates a hypnotic music built of small gestures. An excellent outing.
Misha Feigin, balalaika, classical g; Elliot Sharp, dobro; Davey Williams, el g; LaDonna Smith, vln, dancing on a wooden box; Craig Hultgren, clo; Eugene Chadbourne, banjo, g.
Track listing: Both Kinds of Music / Balalaikofrenia / Moondance / Zohar Caf