Auktyon (Auction)


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Part of a long-running history of once-underground Eastern European art rock bands (Czechoslovakia's Plastic People of the Universe are probably the best known to Western audiences), Russia's Auktyon blend abrasive free jazz and prog rock (think of Henry Cow and the rest of the European "rock in opposition" scene) influences with loose, danceable rhythms that will be instantly familiar to anyone who's ever seen a jam band. The combination enhances both sides of the equation, giving the more experimental aspects an approachable context and making it harder to dismiss Pioneer as an album for recovering Deadheads to do the Awkward White Boy Wiggle to. This results in tracks like the bizarrely tuned "Son," which sounds like a mash-up of one of Robert Wyatt's acoustic tunes from the Soft Machine's Volume Two and a particularly noisy and lurching Residents track, alongside more familiarly Eastern European-sounding tunes like "It's Not Late," which slowly envelops a gypsy-style acoustic melody in waves of cacophony. Auktyon is not for the faint-hearted worldbeat listener -- at the very least, some familiarity with Captain Beefheart will be a tremendous help, especially with co-lead singer Oleg Garkusha's bearish growl of a voice -- but most of a musically adventurous bent will likely find it quite fascinating.

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