Pikapika TeArt – Moonberry (1/17/2011)

Oh hey, this thing is still up.

(Avant Folk Prog from Siberia–name in Japanese)

Hello denizens!

For those who actually read anything on here, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated with more music reviews, but we’re cool now.  I’ve got more obscure bullshit for you to casually ignore!

Pikapika TeArt are from Siberia of all places, and play what I’d call a hybrid of Henry Cow style RIO (Rock in Opposition) and traditional Russian folk music and melodies–it’s definitely got a chamber rock feel to it, ala along the lines of Univers Zero (per instruments), but much more lively, largely straying from any electric instrumentation and having violin and clarinet lead the way most of the time.   Two guitars, a bass, a violin, a clarinet, a keyboardist and a drummer all come together to make some very complex, yet still incredibly melodic and memorable music.

The music itself is essentially instrumental, only having interlude tracks featuring a solo female singer in Russian. The music despite having  a great deal of obvious influence from folk musics, is very Henry Cow-ish in feel.  Angular melodies, unusual instruments, formless song structure and a general aversion to convention give a very right impression that these players know how to play–but there is also an incredibly breezy, almost infectious ideal to a lot of the music.  Contrasting darker guitars and bass, as well as bursts of occasional intense drumming, there are earthy and warm violin lines and airy, melodic clarinet notes flying around.  The music does stay about a mid pace, and doesn’t delve into dirge or race, but there’s a great deal of variety within the music feel, sometimes airy and inviting, others frenetic and nervous, sometimes even melancholy.

I’m saying they can both play music and write it well.

Any aversion to things like Avant, Prog or whatever else weak-eared or boring music listeners have should generally be quelled by how unusually memorable and even hummable the music can be, due in no small part to the large infusion of Folk musics.  It’s not something you can really dance to, but there are very striking and overt melodies, wonderful instrument tones and a dynamic atmosphere within the sound, despite the lack of lyrics.  Emotions and intentions are pretty easily expelled with the music, and done so with both gusto and class.  There’s no Zorn-esque noise compositions, no music concrete exploration.  That’s not to say that fans of Henry Cow or those things I mentioned earlier should avoid–hardly.  This some very interesting music come flyin’ outta the commie’s country, see here.  Instruments dance around eachother, in line and then in flurries of multiple melodies, all deftly played.  There’s a great deal to be had both compositionally and aesthetically, and there’s not really a lot to scare anyone away despite how adventurous it tends to get with complexity and influences.

There’s a large number of players present here, almost always all at once, and it never really becomes “crowded.”   The mix places violin and clarinet at the forefront, but everything is well placed and plays a role within the sound–guitars twinkle and crunch, keyboards swirl (both as keys and as pseudo-piano work) around the instruments, the bass is actually audible and alive, and the drums tie everything down.  The stars of the show, again, however, are the clarinet and violin, and you can see why–despite not flying into instrument histrionics and bullshit, there are very competent players behind them, and it shows in the construction of each line.  Clarinet is full bodied and lively, such a wonderful addition to traditional instruments–giving a wonderful contrast to the mainly string based entourage  of instruments in this band as well as most.  Violin is probably the most “lead” instrument, and flies around the music both in crazy fervor and subtle wavering, and the music is only better for it.  The general absence of lead guitars and less of a focus on them not only allows for more interesting usage of the guitars themselves, but gives the feel of the album as well as music theories behind it more of an incentive to be creative.

Alright, name drop time;

I can definitely get a Henry cow vibe from the album, but I can hear hints of other things, intentional or not–I hear splices of Dun’s Eros, possibly some interesting splashes of Alamaailman Vasarat here and there, as well as a lot of unknown folk melodies thrown in.  I’m sure there are more comparisons, but it’s got a nice late 70s Avant feel, but still feels nice and modern with production and even influence.

Probably one of the more accessible of the “out there” albums I’ve recommended, so I’ll give this one to everyone–there’s not a lot of room to dislike it on grounds of it being inaccessible.  Very vibrant and dynamic, as well as complex and instrumentally engaging, it has a lot for just about anyone.  It’s also from Siberia.

Hella indie cred.

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6 Responses to Pikapika TeArt – Moonberry (1/17/2011)

  1. Pikapika TeArt says:

    Thank you very much for your kind words! super!

  2. Joe Higham says:

    Big thanks for the suggestions. In fact (for anyone interested) the easiest place to buy it from is the record companies site. If I remember correctly – 12€ + 4€ P&P.

    The record company is Altrock – http://bit.ly/h6IjoA

    • fuckyournames says:

      Fantastic!

      I tried to navigate their site when I first heard about it, but I couldn’t do it, haha.

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