Left-sided world music

  • 2004-08-05
  • By Tim Ochser
RIGA - I have a trusty source of information when it comes to discovering good new music in the Baltics. He's the man when it comes to the music scene in this part of the world. He knows everything about everyone in the business. But the problem is he can never recommend me anything good because, to put it bluntly, there isn't a great deal of good new music coming out.

But when I asked him to throw a good new CD my way a couple of weeks ago, he tossed me (literally) a copy of "Krasivosleva" by the Russian group Markscheider Kunst. Being a laconic sort of guy who doesn't mince his words, he merely said, when I asked him to describe it for me, "Four out of five." Hmm, I thought. Can't be bad.
And it's really not. "Krasivosleva" is a 12-song carnival of amazing energy and musical mayhem. Markscheider Kunst may be Russian (although the name apparently comes from a German phrase meaning "the art of discerning frontiers"), but its music is a rampage through upbeat musical genres the world over, albeit with a slight Slavonic sensibility.
"Krasivosleva" is an irresistible blend of ska, reggae, West African and Latin rhythms, seamlessly fused together by the group's Russian vocals. There's nothing particularly original here musically speaking, but the group does what it does extremely well, which is to make deliriously vibrant music.
In fact, it's almost worth buying this album just for one song alone, the delightful "Tanec" (A Dance). If you don't feel compelled to dance when you hear this song then the chances are you've already died, but you haven't got around to realizing it yet and are merely going about your daily business just through sheer force of habit.
Markscheider Kunst was founded in St. Petersburg in 1992 by a group of geology students, who were clearly not fulfilled by discussing rock formations during their lunch break.
"Krasivosleva" is not the most subtle piece of music you'll hear, but you'll still have a hell of a time listening to it. It's the sort of music that makes you wonder what it must be like to be a big, big girl in a big, big world.