Friday, July 01, 2005

Holding off on the recommendation (reluctantly)

Have just listened to the first two cuts of my new Bering Strait album (Pages) and am having to resist the urge to tell you to just go buy it. Now. No argument...but I haven't heard it all yet...so gritting my teeth...

I'll tell you what, though, their first album showed us quite clearly that here was a great band that had dumbed itself down for Nashville radio. But the first two cuts on the new album come from a great band that has said, "Nashville can go to hell, we're gonna make great music and that's the end of that." THIS is what you knew was lurking behind that first album...

...but I'll reign in my enthusiasm just to make sure the rest of the cuts aren't a major falloff.

UPDATE: Well, they didn't manage to maintain the extraordinarily high level of the first two cuts, but as that would have been all but superhuman, it's neither a big surprise nor a big criticism. This is a very strong album indeed. One or two moderately good cuts that aren't really good enough to be on this album (though they'd be too good for most of the local Austin bands), a passle of very solid numbers indeed, a couple of instrumentals that are first rate...and then those first two haunting, Slavic-country fusions that are blow-you-away awesome.

I won't order you to buy it. But I'll tell you that if you don't, then you're almost certainly making a mistake.

At the very least, download onto your I-Pod "Safe in my Lover's Arms" and "Oy, Moroz, Moroz."

Speaking of "Oy, Moroz, Moroz," here as a public service are the words. Let me just say that this is one of those songs that (like most operas) is better if you don't know what the words mean. It's a traditional old Russian drinking song sung by a guy riding home on his horse in the dead of the vicious Russian winter...but take my word for it, the harmonies and the instrumental setting are heart-stopping, even if the guy's emotional priorities seem somewhat, um, questionable...let's just say he really likes his horse. (Of course, one presumes his horse doesn't have a problem with jealousy.)

I guess I shouldn't be needlessly flippant; it's actually a lonely homesick song from a man longing to be safe and warm at home instead of out alone in the cold, and it's quite gorgeous.

In Cyrillic:

Ой, мороз, мороз, не морозь меня.
Не морозь меня, моего коня.
Не морозь меня, моего коня...

...моего коня, белогривого.
У меня жена, ой, ревнивая.
У меня жена, ой, ревнивая.

У меня жена, ой, красавица,
Ждёт меня домой, ждёт, печалится.
Ждёт меня домой, ждёт, печалится.

Я приду домой на закате дня.
Обниму жену, напою коня.
Ой, обниму жену, напою коня.

Ой, мороз, мороз, не морозь меня.
Не морозь меня, моего коня.
Не морозь меня, моего коня.

In a phonetic transliteration (i.e., not the official letter-for-letter translation, but a translation meant to mimic what it actually sounds like):

Oy, moros, moros, nye moros minya.
Nye moros minya, mayevo kanya.
Nye moros minya, mayevo kanya...

...mayevo kanya byelogrivava.
U minya zhena, oy, rivnivaya.
U minya zhena, oy, rivnivaya.

U minya zhena, oy, krasavitsa.
Zhdyot minya damoy, zhdyot, pichalitsa.
Zhdyot minya damoy, zhdyot, pichalitsa.

Ya pridu damoy na zakatye dnya.
Obnimu zhenu, napayu kanya.
Oy, obnimu zhenu, napayu kanya.

Oy, moros, moros, ne moros minya.
Ne moros minya, mayevo kanya.
Ne moros minya, mayevo kanya.

And in English:

Oh, frost, frost, don't freeze me.
Don't freeze me, or my horse.
Don't freeze me, or my horse...

...my horse, my white-maned horse.
I have a wife...oy, is she ever jealous.
I have a wife...oy, is she ever jealous.

I have a wife...oy, is she ever a beauty.
She's waiting for me at home -- waiting and sorrowing.
She's waiting for me at home -- waiting and sorrowing.

I'll get home at the setting of the day's sun.
I'll embrace my wife, I'll stable my horse.
I'll embrace my wife, I'll stable my horse.

Oy, frost, frost, don't freeze me.
Don't freeze me, or my horse.
Don't freeze me, or my horse.

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