CIOLKOWSKA - Avtomat Proshlogo

Ciolkowska - Avtomat Proshlogo

9 songs
57:22 minutes
***** ***


Psychedelic and space rock seem to be two popular musical genres in Russia. For many years now, bands from the biggest country on the planet have been testing the limits of that style which leaves a lot of room for improvisation. This time I am in the presence of Ciolkowska, a quartet from Saint Petersburg which is quite hard to tag down to a single musical movement, and itís their mixing of elements from different places that makes their new album Avtomat Proshlogo such a delight to listen to.

There are actually two further things that differentiate Ciolkowska from other psychedelic space rock bands. First of all, their music, although often instrumental, comes with vocals, which helps giving the songs more structure. And then there is the fact that they have a ukulele player in their line-up. Frankly I have to admit that apart from gimmick rock bands, I have never come across a rock band with such an instrument used as a main ingredient, and I was pleasantly surprised that they donít use it in a comic way, but rather to give the music some kind of ethereal string presence, a bit like a scaled down harp actually.

Ciolkowska have been founded in 2012, and since then they have already released a couple of records. According to their Bandcamp page, Avtomat Proshlogo is already their seventh output. It starts with the trippy intro Karta, a short nineteen second piece that sets the ground for what is to come. The following eight tracks are all between five and nine minutes long, and they add to their psychedelic space rock foundation elements from shoegaze, dub, post rock and maybe even a little alternative rock. The vocals are in Russian and sound rather laid back, a little hoarse, but manage well to add texture to the music. This album has been recorded live in a studio in their hometown, and the band was enhanced by a trumpetist who adds some gloomy Eastern jazz parts. There are even two cover versions, but from bands I have never heard of: Liompa and udUbrenje. Actually these covers donít sound that different from the bandís own material, so that it all sounds rather homogenous. On 108, a song titled after the sacred Hindu number, the band invokes the names of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, thus creating a thoroughbred Hare Krishna chant that takes us back to the late Sixties. On My Iz Dzhaza, the musicians turn into a pure jazz direction.

As you can infer from these lines, Ciolkowska are the kind of band that does what it wants to, and why not? Despite being a live recorded album, Avtomat Proshlogo sounds very transparent, and offers a one hour rollercoaster ride full of musical surprises. Psychedelic and space rock fans that are not averse to other genres should be delighted at the sheer number of ideas that have been put to use here.

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