Side A - Part 1 (Tusk Festival)
Side B - Part 2 (Cafe Oto)
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October 2017 / London / Gateshead
Staraya Derevnya / Hans Grussell’s Krankenkabinet
Few people attending these two gigs had heard of either band let alone seen them perform live. Anticipation was steadily building and the word was out that these performances were going to be something quite special. Although such judgements, based on hearsay and mild crowd hysteria can be misjudged and misplaced, leaving the expectant audience flat and feeling short changed.
Audience members began to gather in the performance space a little earlier than other pre-gig gatherings, no-one wanted to miss what was by now being talked about as possibly a once in a lifetime event, after all these bands weren’t renowned for touring, or even gigging.
To a mild murmuring emanating from the throng, the convergence of the nine band members took place amid all manner of traditional instrumentation and noise making detritus; toys, synths, samplers, melodica, trumpet, theramin, squeaky duck, shakers, silent cello and sundry other objects.
Alone on stage Hans Grussell’s Krankenkabinet have a reputation for theatre, home-made lavish costume and eye watering performances. Heavy Vibes magazine described them thus; “Imagine yourself in a pre-WW1 German village where wooden children with mechanical insides have taken over as they conspire to contact the most demented Moog-driven kling klang you have ever heard”
Staraya Derevnya are a multi-headed, multi-instrumental, multi-media outfit that works methodically and with infinite precision, with even their sections of improv’ feeling like complex notation pieces.
Could this improvised collaboration work or would it be a cacophonous and un-coordinated racket?
Part One / Side One / Tusk Festival
A gradual build of disconnected sounds of indeterminable sources with each player coercing their ‘instrument’ of choice and vying for position to a point of beautiful convergence - a mass improvised rhythm with a kazoo theme-bass. This Russian Israeli Californian Collective go all-out African drumming and boy, it has the hairs on the back of the neck standing to attention out or respect, and in awe.
The calm, a new dawn, realised by a multitude of self-respecting and mutually supportive musicians and artists, a vista of ever changing colours, hues and tones, at times radiant in the extreme. Each player executing their part with aplomb, sympathetic to all others. Improvisation is rarely this good. The live production and clarity of sound is pure perfection as this multi-national collective take us to places never before seen, and serve us a complexity of sounds seldom heard.
Rarely will you hear a more beautiful and considered live improvisation.
“When the Tusk line-up was announced I researched other bands and I thought it would be nice to play with Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinet so I approached them. It was a bit scary I guess because the band leader signed his emails Hans Grusel, so I was communicating with the creepy character, not the actual person. They are the nicest people actually.”
Gosha Shtasel of Staraya Derevnya in an interview in TQ5
Part Two / Side Two / Café Oto
Synthesiser and plucked instrument. The gradual entry of other instruments through portals that remain open for the briefest of time. There’s fun to be had while the music retains that edge of seriousness which confounds the listener. The build is awesome and gradual, vocal chords are used to dramatic and slightly unsettling effect. It’s a dark place we are lured into, shafts of refracted light through the pea-souper.
A musical interlude – mechanical shoots burst through the concrete garden, steel flowers blossom in the icy early morning pearlescent dew.
The lengthy coda is a dramatic crescendo with instruments plucked, blown, cajoled, stroked and beaten. There’s a recurrent theme/ riff which keeps the players grounded and a trumpet bellows like some baby elephant lost, looking for its family in the heat of a jungle clearing, only to rest and sleep…forever.
Such is the power of this music. Get ready to focus. Get ready to concentrate. Get ready!
Andy Wood – Founder & Editor of TQ zine
"a wizardry of deconstructing, reassembling and mixing electronics, ambient and more classical sounds into highly enjoyable surrealist settings and electronic landscapes."
"Rubbed and rolled collisions overtake contracting on an evocative bassline riff, a mirror-trapped conversation leaking into yawning frets in a bluesy blush that putrescently paws your imagination like a summery ampersand descending a taper-torn horizon."
"Part 1 (Tusk) starts out lively and demented...traverses into a downcast and melancholic mode; still, even as it meanders in a self-made twilight zone, the eye of their muse is not fully closed, and there are plenty of choice sonic nuggets to hew with one’s pickaxe. On Part 2 (Oto), the aim appears to be to engender a slowly-creeping form of menace in the shape of a Golem or ogre growing in stature, unsure about what his mission in life will be, but you can bet it won’t end well for most of humankind. "
Ed Pinsent for The Sound Projector
released September 4, 2020
Part 1 recorded live on 15th October 2017 at Tusk Festival, Sage Gateshead
Part 2 recorded live on 13th October 2017 in Café Oto, London.
Mixed with few overdubs in 2020.
Amos Ungar: dulcimer, sampler
Danil Gertman: live digital drawing, cover art
Gosha Hniu: percussion, toys, kazoo, cries and whispers, mixing, mastering, design, production
Gretel Grusel: electronics
Grundik Kasyansky: feedback synthesizer, objects
Hans Grusel: electronics
Maya Pik: synthesizer, rocking chair, melodica, design
Liz Allbee: trumpet, electronics
Ran Nahmias: silent cello, theremin