Pesni Ribaka (Fisherman's Songs)

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Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Boris Grebenshikov is often described as the Russian Bruce Springsteen. While this sentiment may ring true as far his iconic status goes, it does little to describe his colorful, offbeat, and wildly eccentric music. A more apt comparison would be The Beatles, as Grebenshikov wields psychedelic pop like a chef's knife, dissecting everything from eastern mysticism to Russian folklore, resulting in a sound that's the very definition of the term worldbeat. On Pesni Ribaka, Grebenshikov reunites his early-'80s Russian rock collective Aquarium on ten diverse tracks that rely heavily on serpentine arrangements that while complex, never lose track of the melody. Track one (there are no English translations) works off of a reggae-inspired rhythm, incorporating violin, bagpipe, flute, and Nusra Fateh Ali Kahn-esque backing vocals to achieve a kaleidoscope of sound that's both joyous and cerebral. The fourth track utilizes some George Harrison-style slide before bursting into a truly wondrous burst of mellotron and sunshine-pop horns. Track seven is the sparsest of the bunch, finding Grebenshikov singing tenderly over chimey harps and swelling mandolins, giving the effect of a gently spinning Russian carousel. There are city street soundscapes, sinewy sitars, and wonderfully out-of-place marimbas throughout Pesni Ribaka, but what keeps the ingredients from overpowering the dish are Grebenshikov's impassioned vocals. Those versed in the Russian language know of his abilities as a linguist and poet, and it's a shame everyone else can only guess his subject matter. However, anyone with an ear for pop will be able to recognize the talent.

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