How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Featuring the virtuosi talents of Siberian schoolmates Yuri Matveyev on electric violin and Artyom Yakushenko on electric guitar, the recent Heads Up International release Out of Nowhere from Two Siberians weaves a forceful tapestry of folk traditions executed with the spontaneity of youthful experimentation and the exactitude of deep artistic commitment.
Hailing from Irkutsk, Siberia, located 150 miles north of Mongolia, Matveyev and Yakushenko were both born to highly musical families, and each became fascinated by their respective instruments at an early age. They met while attending the Irkutsk Art Academy, and formed a close musical bond evident throughout the album. Determined to travel outside their relatively isolated surroundings and gain more exposure, the two borrowed money, boarded the Trans-Siberian railway, and proceeded to play their way to Moscow and eventually New York City. Through the type of coincidences that make one wonder whether talent always manages to surface, or if perhaps it just as often goes unnoticed, Matveyev and Yakushenko met and performed with several renowned US musicians, including Michael Brecker, before being sent home due to visa complications. Once they returned, the two worked assiduously to raise the funds and make the connections necessary to record their debut album.
These two talented musicians display the inventive energy and emotive force that stems from the deep love of an art and mastery of form. Backed by an impressive supporting cast including headline guests Michael Brecker and Don Byron, as well as Richard Bona, Mino Cinelu, and Matt Garrison, the album presents original compositions from start to finish, and though all resonate with a similar folkloric feel, the dominating theme is diversity and ingenuity. Threading together numerous musical styles from every corner of the world, Matveyev and Yakushenko have created a sound uniquely their own, fusing everything from polkas to power rock, jazz ballads, and gypsy guitar.
Identifying highlights on this album is really only an exercise in taste, because all fifteen tracks are put together brilliantly. Listeners will undoubtedly find that their favorites shift from one listening to the next. That said, distinctive tracks do repeatedly come to the fore, such as the haunting "On the Tundra," the expansive "Come with Me Anyway," the frenetic "Vodka Diaries," and the multi-textured, yearning "Evidence of Things Not Seen."
Liable to appeal to listeners from many backgrounds, particularly those seeking new approaches and blends of styles, Out of Nowhere will undoubtedly launch Two Siberians onto the international stage.
Track Listing: 1. Outpost Radio 2. Allergic to Gravity 3. Cagey Bee 4. Come with Me Anyway 5. Natasha, Havana 6. Amoroso 7. New Russian 8. Lake Baikal 9. On the Tundra 10. Vodka Diaries 11. And then, Nika... 12. Indigo Breeze 13. Out of Nowhere 14. Evidence of Things Not Seen 15. Searching for Power
Personnel: Yuri Matveyev: Electric Guitar
Artyom Yakushenko: Electric Violin