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(65 min, Musea Parallele & Poseidon)
TRACK LIST: 1. Balkan Dawn 6:38 2. Shamrock Storm 5:35 3. Lost in the Night 4:22 4. Areia 5:40 5. Jiji 7:19 6. Fire in the Kitchen 4:48 7. Armadillo 5:01 8. Spring 5:11 9. My Friend 4:54 10. Black Maria 5:55 11. Bulgarian Dance 4:00 12. Bonjour 5:13 All tracks: by Molka. Produced by Molka. LINEUP: Jun - stringed instruments Shiho - fiddle Hikari Soma - flute Mura Igo - ethnic percussions Satoshi Ikeda - bass; piano, melodion
Prolusion. To all appearances, "Super Ethnic Flavor" is the debut CD by MOLCA. The ensemble doesn't have a website thus far.
Analysis. As far as I can remember, this is already the third of the newest Japanese outfits appealing to various kinds of folk music of planet Earth save their native one. Unlike the others, however, Molca followed the line of least resistance when they worked on their "Super Ethnic Flavor". They certainly didn't set their mind on blending the folk tunes they've chosen with features of any Progressive Rock genre(s) and have delivered them probably the most traditional way. No, I am not about to say that this stuff isn't progressive, but it would have certainly been much more progressive had the band been more inventive in their approach. Although all of the tracks are credited as Molca's original works, some of them sound too much traditional and recognizable to take that statement seriously. For instance, the joyful Fire in the Kitchen is at best the light variation on 7-40, a very popular Jewish song, which can be heard probably in every restaurant in Russia/CIS and, I believe, in many of those in Poland and the other East European countries. Black Maria and Bonjour are also traditional restaurant tunes, the stylizations on an old-fashioned pop jazz of the '30s. A thoughtless, typically dance music, with no intellectual burden. The other pieces are much more interesting, though the contents of some of them don't correspond to their titles. Just as Jiji, the rather complicated and highly impressive Balkan Down features elements of Oriental music (typical for the Balkan region), but the primary storyline is a blend of English and Spanish folk music, with specific violin solos and those on the Spanish guitar. Bulgarian Dance isn't danceable, but it's almost entirely about English/West European folk music. Shamrock Storm is much in the same vein. Although I understand that Lost in the Night isn't Tango (it has a different meter and some other atypical features), it resembles Argentinean Tango anyway. "The East meets the West" would be an appropriate subtitle for Areia, on which the ensemble presented a really unique and cohesive mixture of North-Indian, Pakistani, Turkic, Russian and West European folk styles. This would be my favorite composition from the album. The remaining three pieces: Armadillo, Spring and My Friend, following one another in the beginning of the album's second half, are light, but nice improvisations-variations on some uncertain ethnic tunes.
Conclusion. The album has an almost a purely acoustic, at times nearly chamber, sound and is filled with inflammatory melodies. Nevertheless, it is mainly destined only to fans of traditional folk music. By the way, if you look through my recent review of the Poseidon / InterMusic production, you'll see it is getting worse and worse for some reason, which is an anxious sign. Hopefully, this tendency will not last for long.
VM: July 14, 2005
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