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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ilia Belorukov - Dots & Lines (Ermatell Records, 2007) ***½

Avant-garde from Russia, with Ilia Belorukov on sax, Roman Stolyar on piano and melodica, Andrey Popovskiy on acoustic guitar, and Alexander Funtikov on trumpet, ocarina and percussion. The music is dark and sensitive, full of restraint. The title indicates that it is abstract, but in reality that's not the case all the time. Some pieces, like "Scherzo", certainly are, and consists of musical dots placed next to each other, tiny fragments of sound coming from the various instruments, filling a canvas. Other tracks are more fluent, with the sax or flute playing hesitating melodies, with a piano which could be playing the soundtrack for a scary movie. Despite the title, the music is not about form, as you might think, but about emotions. The record starts in full anger, with a baritone sax blaring out sounds, but that doesn't last, the music shifts into a territory of uncertainty, of anguish and distress. Belorukov seems to the one constant on all tracks, with the rhythmic instruments changing on every track. The ones in combination with the piano are by far the best one. Yet the guitar-flute duet is also not bad. But "Adagio Cantabile", played by the whole band is surely the highlight : dark, brooding, and full of agony, like Beethoven himself, bringing a kind of avant-garde romanticism. Young musicians but with a style and musical vision all their own.

© stef