Angrusori – Live At Tou: Album Review

Slovakian-Norwegian orchestra Angrusori releases its debut album. Prepare for horizons to be broadened.

Release date: 7th May 2021

Label: Hudson Records

Format: CD / DL

Angrusori – featuring Kitchen Orchestra + Czech avant-garde violinist, singer, and composer  Bittová + Norwegian composer and organist Nils Henrik Asheim – on a live album. A world first? Certainly ambitious as highly acclaimed musicians from the Slovakian Roma music community and the Norwegian contemporary music scene come together to create ingeniously improvised music drawing directly from, or inspired by traditional Roma folk tunes.  

The combination of an ancient migratory song tradition with contemporary, experimental improvisation might be new ground for many. Make that ‘most’. This album offers a collection of these songs in a remoulded and repackaged format, inviting both old and new listeners of Roma music, and appealing to diverse audiences within and outside the Slovakian vernacular.

What’s special is that these are songs come from an otherwise secluded society, songs usually shared in people’s homes and kitchens. They tell stories of a different European reality, encompassing experiences of social segregation, abject poverty and ill health, or love, jealousy and loss – and yes, we might be increasingly aware of stories of specific and universal human tragedies, yet the humanity shines through. 

Throw those curtains wide and fling open your doors to a new world of opportunity and a musical experience that’s not so much challenging or different, but genuinely enlightening. If you’re not a subscriber to Songlines and feel that world music has fallen below the radar from being a once high profile entity, here’s a chance to kick start the genre.

Built on winding drones, Sar Me Khere Dzava sets the tone for the duration. Almost Mediterranean at times, the gentle lull of massed voices and strings might have some settling into their comfort zone. Steel yourselves though as we start to flitter through arrangements which balance the stark and the lush. Nods are paid to the minimal and the expansive.

Pas O Pani Besav sees an almost solo vocal sweep and glides before a cinematic orchestral wave and rich strings swings through the opening of dramatic Chude Man Vastetar that evolve into a dance style piece. One that transforms my attention (even if no-one else is, I’m taken back in the mists of time to ‘O’ Level Russian and singing Kalinka…) to deepest Russia.

A freeform and vaguely avant-garde, jazz-style experimentation kicks in during Rodav Me Miro Drom. It’s positively tribal, pagan even and typical of the ‘never know what to expect’ experience. An exercise in the sense of release and power of personal interpretation of music. The occasional bell of recognition sounds as a few bars pass that sound like something familiar to our blinkered ears, but in the main, Angrusori delivers on something we don’t hear every day.

The coming together of two very different musical and experiential worlds is an aesthetic-emotional richness of life itself. It is music that crosses borders. Music that’s enlightening and just the resounding shift we all need when we think we subscribe to a broad musical church.

Angrusori online: Bandcamp

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