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21 Mar 2007

Review: Cherries (Agnivolok)

The Eastern Front, 2006

The sound of Agnivolok is an often uneven, yet masterfully produced fusion of European classical and folk with dark, atmospheric experimentalism. The lyricist and songwriter, Vera Agnivolok, creates some beautiful, warm melodies through the use of guitar, piano, and accordian. Yet her jarring and haunting vocal style, is one of the strong ingredients which sets this band apart form all others. The lyrical content references universal themes of life and love, however, most often taking the listener to a desolate and lonely end. The emotional intensity of Vera’s singing may very well place Agnivolok in the realm of bands, which one either loves or despises. Alongside Vera’s traditional (yet certainly peculiar) arrangements is the contribution of band member Vadim Gusis (Chaos as Shelter) who provides samples and unusual instruments resulting in everything from ethereal and dreamy soundscapes, to klanky, erratic excursions. It is indeed how the combination is developed, which creates the very strange sound of Agnivolok.

Agnivolok’s most recent release, Cherries, is a well-balanced and complete construct, quite isolated in the realm of contemporary music. The radically binaural instrumentation achieves its true magic through the serpentine like mix of the textures involved. It presents some harmonic, traveling instrumentals skillfully wound around concrete song structures. One would need to graph together cross sections of other music projects to make even a close comparison. One approach may be, The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud, if it had a more ‘garage-sound’, backed by some of Douglas Pearce’s ‘train wreck’ style noise collages. Or possibly, imagine Tom Waits bringing his Bonemachine to a traditional Yoiking session. This, Agnivolok’s second release, demands an attentive listen for full appreciation. And a warning ought to be issued, that this music is not for the faint hearted.

~Herr Hunterfield

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