Lots of interesting new things this week and I still haven’t gotten around to last week’s features. I promise those will come soon, but because I have time now and the music is fresh in mind, I’d like to write a little about Julian Kytasty and Auktyon.
Julian Kytasty was born in 1958 in Detroit, Michigan to a family of Ukrainian refugees. Following his father’s and gradfather’s lead, Kytasty picked up the bandura and in 1980 he moved to New York City and founded the New York Bandura Ensemble. According to the liner notes for Black Sea Winds, the bandura is a strange hybrid of the lute and medieval lap harp. If you want to see what one looks like, check out this video of Kytasty performing. The album itself is a document of songs traditionally played by blind musicians from the Ukraine known as kobzari. These songs, called duma, were performed on an instrument called the kobza, but many artists in the 20th century, including Kytasty, began utilizing the bandura instead. Apparently Stalinist Russia was not kind to the kobzari, primarily because their music dealt with religious themes, and in the 30’s they effectively became outlaws. Kytasty writes,
“Many [kobzari] doubtless died, along with millions of the rural population, in the famine of 1933; others were individually arrested and executed. There is considerable evidence that at some point in the 1930’s the remnants [kobzari survivors] were rounded up for a Congress of Traditional Singers from which no one returned. The numbers speak for themselves. The folklorists of the 1920’s documented a living epic tradition of several hundred singers, with regional distinctions of repertoire and performance sytle; by 1939, when another congress of traditional performers was held, only four kobzari took part. The survivors had changed over to modernized banduras and performed ‘progressive’ repertoire featuring newly composed dumy about Stalin and Lenin.”
Since that time the bandura has been the instrument of choice – it is not the same instrument employed by the kobzari, but the style of music played on the bandura often pays homage to those blind singers. The song featured on the show, “Cossack Lament,” is of the oldest kobzar songs known, dating back to the 16th and 17th century. It is a lament sung as part of a Cossack funeral rite. I’ve also uploaded “The Song of Truth and Falsehood.” The lyrics to this song speak for themselves:
“There is no truth in the world,
Truth is not to be found,
For dire Falsehood has started calling itself Truth.
For now Truth stands outside the threshold,
And Falsehood sits at table with the wealthy.
For now Truth is cast into dungeons,
And Falsehood invited into the mansions.
And the need to know the difference.
But the Lord is Truth, shall crush Falsehood,
Chastise pride, raise high the temple.”
A good friend recently introduced me to a Russian rock band called Auktyon. There’s plenty of information about them on their website and all over the internet, but what follows are the basics. The band has been around in one form or another since 1978, but didn’t take on their current name until 1983. They claim their influences as everything from reggae to the ethnic music of North Africa and jazz. Writers have compared them to everything from The Residents and Captain Beefheart to Robert Wyatt, Pere Ubu, Beck, Leonard Cohen, and Black Sabbath (to name just a few). The song played during the show (“Samolet”) sounds like something out of a spy movie and “Boyoos” sounds like a demented folk tune filtered through the Boredoms. Beyond that I simply don’t know how to describe this band. I’ve uploaded both “Boyoos” and another track (“Letcheek”) for you to enjoy. Any other information you may want about the band can be found at their site. For those of you in Boston, Auktyon will be playing March the 25th at the Middle East Club (Downstairs).
Thanks to Tom for the heads up!
I hope you’ve all been enjoying the show and the website. If you have any comments, questions, or requests you can leave them at this site or email me at the address provided in the sidebar. Thank you for listening and enjoy.
01. Lamb “Gorecki” from Lamb (1997) on Fontana
02. Meat Beat Manifesto “Helter Skelter” from Helter Skelter/Radio Babylon (1990) on Play It Again Sam
03. Badawi “Voices from the Sky” from Soldier of Midian (2001) on ROIR
04. Julian Kytasty “Cossack Lament” from black sea winds (2002) on November Music
05. Dead Can Dance “Cantara” from Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (1987) on 4AD
06. Rachel’s “A French Galleasse” from Selenography (1999) on Quarterstick
07. Holger Czukay “Witches’ Multiplication Table” from On the Way to the Peak of Normal (1982) on Mute
08. Nurse With Wound “The Self Sufficient Sexual Shoe” from Rock ‘n’ Roll Station (2006) on Beta-lactam Ring — originally released 1994
09. Harmonia “Dino” from Musik von Harmonia (2006) on Lilith — originally released 1974
10. Electrelane “Between the Wolf and the Dog” from No Shouts No Calls (2008) on Too Pure
11. Swans “Miracle of Love” from White Light from the Mouth of Infinity (1991) on Young God
12. Sleep Chamber “Invocation” from Secrets ov 23 (1993) on Music Maxima Magnetica
13. Death in June “C’est Un Rêve” from Dead Sunwheels (1989) on NER
14. Bardo Pond “Nomad” from Cypher Documents I (2005) on 3 Lobed
15. Auktyon “Samolet” from Zhopa (1990) — see website for more info: http://www.auktyon.com
16. Popul Vuh “Kyrie” from Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte (1997) on Think Progressive — originally released 1976
17. NON “God & Beast” from God & Beast (1986) on Mute
18. Coil “Red Weather” from Unnatural History II (1995) on Threshold House
19/20. Chris Watson / BJ Nilsen “No Man’s Land” from Storm (2006) on Touch
20. Schlammpeitziger “Schlafatemwagen” from Augenwischwaldmoppgeflöte (2000) on A-musik
21/22. Chris Watson / BJ Nileson “SIGWX” from Storm (2006) on Touch
22. Itsnotyouitsme “Great Day” from Walled Gardens (2007) on New Amsterdam