Two Russian electronic recordings speak of the search for "a new language" in the gaps between various genres. They're equated with a civic absence or lack. In Estonia, two kindred recordings take a more optimistic view.
The dark, dense forests of Karelia lead the Petrozavodsk duo Love Cult to conjure an entire universe of alternative dimensions. This tendency to prejudice dreams over urban actuality is found elsewhere.
Two bands from Minsk and two from St. Petersburg give collective thought to issues of self-determination. In all four cases, there's an awareness that freedom and fate are tightly bound.
The Estonian label Ounaviks continues to produce a wide and wonderful range of folk reinterpretations for a new generation. From within that antique heritage comes a reconsidered worldview.
On October 27, the Big Samhain festival will take place in Saint Petersburg. It gathers a wide range of folk traditions from Russia, Scotland, Ireland, and France - to name but four windswept lands.
The "Put' k Sebe" folk festival is held in Russia's Kaluga region each autumn. Some of the performers from this year's lineup suggest how ancient practice might correct various failings within modernity.
The Sketis organization continues to champion а crisscrossing of folk traditions. Not only is canonical practice forced to incorporate novelty; peripheral locations are also paid major attention.
Themes of transience come to the fore, either in terms of impermanent human achievements or the passing of the seasons. Once that universal flow is recognized, a sense of calm transpires.
Using everything from pre-revolutionary photography to Miami synth-pop and dusty video games, these musicians all cast a glance backwards. The past promises more than an "anxious" future.
Some new recordings and live performances raise a couple of related issues. To whom does "Russian folk" belong and - once that dilemma is clarified - how we talk of similar couplings, such as "Russian soul"?