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Galkin, Yuriy: …For Its Beauty Alone

Having previously blasted out with a nonet under the name Symbiosis Orchestra, Russian band leader Yuriy Galkin strips things back for the dark jazz of …For Its Beauty Alone. This time round he’s inviting only three musicians to take a harrowing, challenging voyage with him into his own dark depths of jagged despair, where little light is offered, even when David Binney pierces through the gloom with his alto-sax. Hope is hinted at but with shards of electronics occasionally howling and droning in the distance, it is never quite grasped in full, although in the main the promise is just enough to keep you hooked in.

Matt Mitchell’s piano dances and prances on “Camera Obscura” but the sounds in the background evoke either birds cawing and calling in the rainforest, or the invasion by subterfuge of an alien species as they infiltrate the human race and slowly begin to dominate. It’s hardly War Of The Worlds, but whatever the storytelling that’s going on here it isn’t a joyous jape or jesting journey and in the end it can leave you a little overwhelmed by its intention. The sidemen, Binney, Mitchell and drummer Rudy Royston are supreme as they are given what seems to be the majority of the limelight in which to bathe. Galkin himself often being the unbreakable chain keeping everything moored in place as the sparks fly in the darkness. It’s a rare trait but one that serves the album well as the piano and sax spend much of their time trading places and jostling for supremacy. That neither seems all that worried about coming out on top makes the joust all the more intense but in the end it can at times feel as though the battle is more important than the spectacle served up for the listener… and then suddenly the likes of “Frame Of Reference” adds the melody and hook that’s often intentionally left by the wayside.

I can’t say that …For Its Beauty Alone has ever managed to hold me truly captive and yet there’s no denying that it does indeed beguile in an idiosyncratic manner. That promise could be enough to win the day for many, but for some it will leave them yearning for more.

Track Listing
1. Exposition en niveaux de gris
2. Revival
3. Shifting Sands - Part I
4. Equilibrium
5. Further Eruptions
6. …For Its Beauty Alone
7. Shifting Sands - Part II
8. Camera Obscura
9. Rise And Fall… And Rise Again
10. Cradle Song
11. Frame Of Reference
12. ...For Its Beauty Alone (Reprise)

Added: January 4th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Yuriy Galkin @ bandcamp
Hits: 797
Language: english

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