Uri Kassyanik

Portraits 2: Sinner's Virgin Soul

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Although comprised of ten different cuts, this solo CD makes up a connected, extended piece of music, as is typically the case in the prolific recorded output of this talented Russian multi-instrumentalist. Composers are known to whine about writers not printing their own thoughts on their pieces, so here goes: Sinner's Virgin Soul is all about "... a man, or a woman, about a man, who sins, or about a woman, who sins. And these circumstances evidently present a more generalized understanding of our essence: as all of us -- men and women -- are the children of the Highest Intelligence. And a woman's sin is almost always provoked by a man -- as has been established." The composer could probably provoke something, possibly sin of some sort, with any one of his performances, in which a bank of keyboard synthesizers well past their prime are combined with the wide variety of so-called normal instruments that this player has at least a technical ability to produce sound on -- these include horns, guitars, and percussion, as well as his own voice. The keyboard set-up here seems quite typical of his early- and mid-'90's productions. A Korg synthesizer is combined with the versatile but cheesy Ensonic EPS 16 plus sampler, etc. The combination of these keyboards with each other would probably be enough to keep anyone busy, but Kassyanik continues to pile layer upon layer, using instrumental voices very simply, or at other times making extended statements. An electronically created "acoustic" piano sound is one of his favorites for extemporizing, which he does quite beautifully, while at other times he just keeps adding additional events, creating an illusion of so many arms and fingers that the listener may be inspired to laugh out loud. A good sense of tension and dramatic development keeps the suite moving along, from a bubbling and slowly building keyboard section that recalls the experimental days of Les McCann to fragmented abstractions of electric drums that sound like the chance music of John Cage. The performer gets a special award for titles, of which several here are completely classic: "View of Volcano Ra-Ri-Lau at 'X' O Clock" and "The Amber-Coloured Shade of Inspiration."

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