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Yagull - 2015 - "Kai"

(52:12, Moonjune Records)


1.  North 5:29
2.  Dark 6:56
3.  Heiwa 3:14
4.  Blossom 5:03
5.  Mio 5:16
6.  Wishing Well 4:35
7.  Burn 3:51
8.  Sound of M 4:27
9.  Z-Parrow 1:47
10. Kai 4:01
11. Omniprism 5:38
12. Oyasumi 1:55


Sasha Markovic  guitars, bass; percussion
Kana Kamitsubo  piano 
Gabriel Nat  clarinet, whistle
Beledo  guitars, lute, bass
Marko Djordjevic  drums
Dewa Budjana  guitars
Wen Chang  violin
Lori Reddy  flute
Yoshiki Yamada  bass
Anthony Mullin  guitars
Jackson Kincheloe  harmonica 

Prolusion. The US project YAGULL started out as the creative vehicle of Serbian composer and musician Sasha Markovic, who released the first CD under this moniker, "Films", in 2012. As of 2015, this project has become a duo with the addition of Japanese composer and pianist Kana Kamitsubo, and with some additional musical friends from different countries. "Kai", the second album by Yagull, was issued in 2015 through the US label Moonjune Records.

Analysis. Yagull, both in its original guise and in the form it has taken three years later, is one that revolves around careful, mainly acoustic instrumental details. I think, you can't really place this music safely inside one specific style. I get a feeling that classical music would be a major source of inspiration on many of these creations, but I also get a strong feeling that these compositions blend in subtle elements from other musical traditions as well. In addition there are creations that do explore more defined styles, but at the core of most of them is that feeling of themes or lead motifs that, in part or in whole, are influenced by classical music, and then mainly due to the manner in which the piano is played and placed in the arrangements. And for me those piano motifs come across as the delicate start of this particular show. Kamitsubo appears to be a highly skilled performer, one that can produce elegant, uplifting wandering patterns with the same ease as slower, melancholic ones, as well as motifs with more of a distinct, poignant expression. Harder notes with a more dramatic sound are sued sparingly and to good effect, but more often than not the piano motifs are elegant, delicate and wandering, providing dominant motifs and subservient support textures with the same natural ease and grace. Markovic adds acoustic guitar to the proceedings, and the dual acoustic guitar and piano creations are at times exquisite, pairing off the light, cold piano sound with the darker, warmer and more vibrant guitar in a distinct, natural contrast. These are instruments that complement each other very well, especially when performed by such able musicians. The scope of this production is then expanded on set occasions by way of guest musicians, with drums or elegant electric guitars adding a more distinct jazz-oriented touch to the proceedings, violin details transforming the material to more of a classical chamber music affair, or flutes adding a pastoral folk-music touch, the latter aspect more of a singular occurrence admittedly, on the brief charming piece named Z-Parrow. All contributing musicians are o excellent instrumentalists, and when excellence meets excellence, the end result tends to be enjoyable. For my personal taste perhaps just a bit too mellow at times, lacking that subtle edge and vibrancy I crave for something to really hit home, but at the same time I applaud musicians able to create and perform gentle music in a manner that manages to maintain tension and interest, who by skills in composition and performance can create music of this kind that is interesting in its own right. Those with an interest in classic rock should also note that a couple of classic 70s tracks are covered on this album, namely Wishing Well (by Free) and Burn (Deep Purple), both of them reinvented as acoustic creations in an interesting manner. Personally I was most intrigued by the charming ragtime details added on Yagull's take on Burn.

Conclusion. "Kai" is a production that revolves around the interplay and natural contrasts between the acoustic guitar and the piano, with guest musicians adding further instrumentation to just about 50% of the material. The end result is an elegant production exploring the gentler side of music, with a classical music foundation of sorts, with occasional side steps into the realm of jazz. Those who tend to find careful, well made acoustic guitar and piano compositions to be of interest are a key audience for this production, and then in particular those amongst them who also have a taste for careful, elegant instrumental jazz.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 22, 2015
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Moonjune Records


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