Rusalnaia

Rusalnaia

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AllMusic Review by

The sheer amount of collaborative one-offs and free-floating group projects in the extensive psychedelic-and-associated worldwide scene is almost a genre in and of itself, so the fact that Rusalnaia exists isn't surprising, but neither is the fact that it's quite good. Given that both Sharron Kraus and Gillian Chadwick are productive performers on their own, as well as with others, their collaboration easily comes across as a logical path for each of them, and with the help of sympathetic production from another peripatetic figure in the form of Greg Weeks, the eight-song album is an entrancing success. If Rusalnaia isn't exactly a surprising listen -- guessing that that the two would produce a series of beautiful, unsettling songs containing both calm fragility and odd textures and deviations from the expected form made sense -- the appeal of the album lies in how exquisitely the two work together, especially with their killer vocals. A song like "Shifting Sands," where their voices match, are then staggered, then come together again, each singer's individual tones clear as well as intertwined closely, would have been striking without music; with steady, low percussion and the feeling of a strange, mystic procession over all, it's all the more remarkable. The title track explores a similar vein in a more focused and dramatic sense, volume and orchestration slowly increasing along with the pace, even while always sounding like a stately ritual that gets frayed around the edges. Other songs allow for a regular trade-off between the two line for line, as on the verses of the steady "Kindling" (with Weeks's church organ backing adding an understated grace to the whole).

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