Arinushka: Old Faith (ARC Music)

 |   |  1 min read

Arinushka: About Nature
Arinushka: Old Faith (ARC Music)

Years ago I was given a birthday card which read, "If you didn't know your age, how old would you be?"

Let's flip that a little and ask about this fascinating album, "If you didn't know where this music came from, where might you guess?"

I didn't know. I just put it in the player with barely a glance at the cover and pottered about as it started to play.

The opener was mysteriously North African/Middle Eastern of some kind (yet not, because the vocals didn't sound quite right), the second piece was definitely/maybe and just possibly Native American, later I was in Okinawa for sure. . .

It was ancient sounding but obviously modern because there were prograrmmed keyboards.

As the music played out I became convinced at one point this was some contemporary Irish group, but then within minutes there were vocal sounds like the trickle-down of Philip Glass minimalism.

So if you didn't know this was music by a Russian folk ensemble from Lithuania, where do you think it might have come from?

Here Arinushka -- which apparently formed in '88 with the purpose of drawing attention to the music of ethnic minorities in the region -- perform the music of contemporary composer/video artist and much acclaimed everyman Linas Rimsa who has written these 14 songs around ideas of traditional religious and faith beliefs in Lithuania and southern Russia.

However this is not just reverential holy music but rather lively vocal ensemble pieces underpinned by Rimsa on keybaords and programmes, with sometimes additional help from guitar, Irish whistle, flute and so on.

Kind of pan-latitudinal music in that all those global references I heard and mistook seem to be around the same geographical parallel, albeit separated by continents.

The pieces are entitled About Sanctity, About Nature, About Love, About Fate etc.

About Stupidity is a dance song about a new wife who doesn't know how to keep her home in order, and About Death is a dramatic piece about life after death (which sounds like it mightn't be too bad, lots of dancing).

So, a very different album of vocal music which -- ironically, given it is so localised -- reaches across cultural and national boundaries in its sound.

Listen without prejudice, as the man said.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

ETRAN FINATAWA INTERVIEWED (2006): From sands to stadiums

ETRAN FINATAWA INTERVIEWED (2006): From sands to stadiums

Etran Finatawa have band members from two nomadic groups from around Niger, and play music which sounds like the raw electric blues from Chicago in the Fifties and Sixties. Their electrifying music... > Read more

Badma Khanda Ensemble: Mongolian Music from Buryatia (Arc/Elite)

Badma Khanda Ensemble: Mongolian Music from Buryatia (Arc/Elite)

The European Arc label is doing God's work in this world by bringing to light music from Eastern Europe right across to the shores of the western Pacific. Already in its ever-expanding catalogue it... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2004): Lights, camera, action

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2004): Lights, camera, action

Fortunately, Paddy Free and Mike Hodgson, who are Pitch Black, get the joke behind the question: why is it so many electronica artists like themselves live in the bush or by the ocean, and are... > Read more

C.W. Stoneking: King Hokum (Inertia)

C.W. Stoneking: King Hokum (Inertia)

Okay, this one had me stumped -- and increasingly impressed. The guy on the black'n'white cover sitting outside a clapboard shack is a round-faced thirty something white guy, but the guy singing... > Read more