AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Darja Kazimira & Zura Makharadze – Songs from An Obscure Matriarchal Tribe (2023; Unexplained Sounds Group)

Trying to put a box around this release is an exercise in futility. Darja Kazimira and Zura Makharadze recorded this double album as a soundtrack to an experimental film. There are echoes of tribal percussion, throat singing, free improv, and Diamanda Galas. The instrumentation is exceptionally broad, including voices, dissected tuba, suona, zurna, bass rebeck, chuniri, rebab, gongs, bass drum, dissected tom, daf, metal and wood percussion, double bass ģiga, bones, xylophone, and noises.

The singing is intense, almost liturgical until it descends into howls and guttural explosions. The next-most prominent type of sound comes from the percussion, which is disjointed, varied, and invokes ancient rituals. Percssion-only passages go on for extended periods of time and undergird the entire album. When combined with the other instruments, these beats, clangs, and chimes produce an overall feel that hovers between Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian.

Songs from An Obscure Matriarchal Tribe is an unusually bizarre release, even from a label with a penchant for the experimental and strange. I will admit that I was not successful in fully getting my head around all that is going on here. But as they say, the reward is in the striving rather than achieving the goal.