Olga Bell - Край (Krai)
Inspired by the lesser-known corners of Bell's homeland and written entirely in her native Russian, Krai is russian-born and New York-based composer/producer Olga Bell's second LP and first large-scale composition.
Lead single "Perm Krai" was premiered via Pitchfork, which claimed it "crawls with tightly compressed activity, all of it separated by clear lines." The entire record also received much press recognition, including being called "brave and sharp" by The Talkhouse, "intriguing and perplexing" by The Quietus, and a "stirring collection of strange, thrilling noises" by Pitchfork.
Krai (край) is the Russian word for edge, limit, frontier or hinterland. Present-day Russia is divided into a myriad of 'federal subjects', including nine krais. In this capacity the term is a political designation, like 'territory', but for the earliest Russians these places represented both the promise and terror of the vast unknown.
While much has been written about Russia's major cities, Olga Bell's Krai is concerned with the rest of the map: the wilderness, the towns, the inhabitants and their stories. From the Cossack melodies of Krasnodar Krai in the West to the Chukchi drumming of Kamchatka Krai in the Russian Far East, Krai is a journey across the Eurasian landmass in forty minutes.
Scored for cello, electric guitar, bass, pitched drums, mallet percussion and electronics, Krai features a vocal ensemble of six Olgas (four female, two 'male') singing entirely in Russian. The texts of Krai are a mix of traditional, liturgical and original poetry Olga created with her mother, a former Radio Moscow broadcaster. Cossack fables, Orthodox chant and politically charged limericks collide in a dizzying mosaic of avant-garde and vernacular soundscapes.
Krai was recorded at Machines With Magnets, a Rhode Island studio where many like-minded musicians (Battles, Lightning Bolt) have created groundbreaking work. In February, the work was premiered to a sold-out Walker Art Center.
Born in Moscow and raised in Alaska, Olga Bell is an American composer, producer and performer based in Brooklyn. A prodigious classical pianist as a child and teenager, Bell graduated from the New England Conservatory at age 21 before moving to New York City to pursue electronic composition and songwriting. The past nine years have seen Bell's steady rise from the city's open mics to performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Bell makes original music, remixes and videos under her own name. As half of Nothankyou, Bell makes electronic music with British musician Tom Vek. In 2012 Bell joined Dirty Projectors for the band's Swing Lo Magellan cycle and remains a keyboardist and singer with the band today
Press and News:
Q2 Music: 10 Imagination-Grabbing, Trailblazing Artists of 2014 - "the sheer talent and originality that explodes out of Krai, by singer/composer Olga Bell (of Dirty Projectors), is like a hit from a defibrillator."
Pitchfork: 8.0 - a "stirring collection of strange, thrilling noises...mesmerizing, eventful”