Back to Nature: Silver Wedding, Port Mone, Vozvraschenie, and Alhambra @ Far from Moscow

Статья David MacFadyen на Far From Moscow:

«…This conviction that verity operates, in some form, prior to modern and rational experience is clear in a couple of new releases from the Sketis label. Sketis specializes in modern interpretations of a Slavic folk heritage. One such publication, reflecting the same intentions, is from Moscow: Vozvraschenie (ВозвращениE or «Return»). That stage-name immediately speaks to a nostalgic gaze, cast lovingly backwards. On a more mundane level, the band was formed in 1999 by Sergey Kanunnikov with the explicit hope of «interweaving sounds from the past and present. In that way we managed to erase any difference between rhythms of a modern city and the Siberian taiga.» Vozvraschenie have played at a wide range of festivals around Russia, especially at events where the appeal of something ancient and «elemental» is most evident.

The title of the group’s newest LP is rendered as «Spring Land», in the sense of spring water. It’s a metaphor invoking an original source, so to speak. «Spring Land is an image of both Mother Earth and Love. It’s the image of a planet that gives birth to creative people, who — in turn — offer their kindness and warmth to others… Either by will or by destiny, a heart and soul return to their origins. You’ll have the sensation of experiencing something that happened very long ago.»

Verity again resides in the past, long before any human planning or pretension. The greatest distance from modernity lies, perhaps, in the aforementioned taiga, about which Kanunnikov has said the following: «Three years ago, we found ourselves at a tiny railway station outside Yoshkar-Ola. All along a riverbank we could see rare stalks of hogweed sticking out. They had long since dried up, so we carved them a little with penknives in order to make clumsy but functioning didgeridoos. Then the three of us — like mammoths! — went wandering along the edge of the forest, trumpeting loudly and heralding the start of spring. We could have woken bears in our path!» The musicians soon headed off to play at a local festival, inspired by the surrounding primordial landscape and having expressed some equally ancient emotions.

Vozvraschenie have sometimes likened their craft to the wandering minstrels or harlequins of medieval Slavic culture, the skomorokhs. «Their performances were simple, yet both radiant and full of rural creativity. These men did not limit themselves to performing spiritual verse; they’d also ridicule the vices of society’s elite — or mock local officials who were undeserving of their power. Songs, nursery rhymes, and spells… they’ve all survived until our age thanks to the painstaking work of collectors and other guardians of Russian culture. A lot of these materials include pagan motifs, which was yet another reason to subject the skomorokhs to severe persecution.»