Late last month, international music duo and married couple Faith and Branko released its new album, Duhovi through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. The 14-song record is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings that is well worth hearing. Its overall content, both musical and lyrical, makes that clear. While the record’s general content forms a relatively solid foundation for the album, its liner notes detract from the engagement and entertainment that said general content establishes at least to a point. The concerns raised through the liner notes are not enough to doom the album, though. To that end, the sequencing of the record’s featured songs work with the songs themselves to ensure audiences’ engagement and entertainment even more. That is because of the general effect that the sequencing creates. This will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered they make Duhovi a mostly successful offering from the duo.
Duhovi, the new album from Faith and Branko, is a mostly positive presentation from the married couple and its fellow band of musicians. Its success comes in part through its featured songs. The songs do well from one to the next to blend the group’s European and American influences. Such is exemplified clearly through the album’s lead single, ‘Techno.’ Coming almost halfway through the album’s 67-minute (one hour, seven minute) run time, the blending of the rocking fiddle line and the simple yet infectious guitar line and drumming gives the song a little bit of a ska/rock vibe while also incorporating the group’s European influences solidly. The whole stands uniquely apart from the rest of the songs featured in this record and is so fun throughout its nearly five-and-a-half-minute run time. On another note, the somber, melancholy ‘Mey,’ which comes much later in the album’s run, is just as different from ‘Techno’ and the rest of the album’s entries as that song is from anything else on the album. The use of the accordion and strings here paint a picture of a French café while also creating something of a slight Romanian gypsy-esque sensibility. The mood is not necessarily sad here, just somber for the most part yet so immersive and engrossing. That is due to the control of the dynamics and the production that resulted in all parts being so well balanced. Mr. and Mrs. Ristic and their fellow musicians switch things up even more even later in the album in ‘Penrith,’ the album’s penultimate track. The electric violin that is paired up here with the Afro-Latin percussion and guitars gives this song its own extremely unique presentation that defies all categorization in the most positive way possible. The whole in this case is so surprisingly infectious and fun. Between this song, the others examined here and the rest of the album’s arrangements, the songs that make up this record are so unique in the best way possible. Collectively, they give audiences reason enough to take in this record.
While the overall musical content that makes up Duhovi’s body is clearly successful, the liner notes outlining the songs’ backgrounds detract from the engagement and entertainment generated by the primary content, at least to a point. That is because while given, at least some background is offered on the songs’ creation, not all of the background is fully clear. Case in point is the background on, say, the album’s title track. Faith points out about this song, “I created this piece as it was recorded. I learned to play in difficult circumstances, without two strings or a teacher. Only when I play am I truly happy. Music is my soul, my greatest love and how I experience God and the universe.” So what audiences get here is that the song was likely created in perhaps an improvisational style. Other than that, Mrs. Ristic does not necessarily offer much else in the way of background. The composition is beautiful. There is no denying that at all. The way that Branko’s bow makes its way across the strings of his violin is stunning. The layering of the string arrangement here is so impacting with its modern classical style and sound. The thing is though, was a difficult situation what led to the song’s apparent improvised creation? That is not really answered here. So in the end, what listeners get is an appreciation of the song, yes, but primarily on the surface. More explanation would have deepened that appreciation.
The information provided about ‘Ludilo,’ the album’s midpoint, is another example of the issue with the album’s liner notes. Listeners are told through the brief discussion, Branko recorded the song with his fellow violinist cousin Kristijan Petrovic. Branko points out the arrangement is meant to show “the beauty of the acoustic Serbian-Romani sound.” That is a good starting point, but still leaves the proverbial door wide open as to the song’s creation. What was the inspiration here? What was the creative process? Even something like that could have been included albeit in a condensed presentation. As with ‘Duhovi’ having at least that slight amount more would have deepened listeners’ appreciation for this impressive song and the talent of its performers.
Perhaps the clearest and most concise of the liner notes are for the late entry, 2018. Branko explains in the notes here, the song centers on the year 2018 and the death of his grandmother. The understanding that he provides gives quite the interesting context to the frenetic energy presented throughout the song. The energy, the controlled chaos of the arrangement perhaps mirrors the conflicting, racing thoughts that must have gone through his mind prior to, during and after her death. What’s more, it really becomes interesting that Branko and company did not go the typical route and just make some mournful composition about the situation. Going that unexpected route here just adds to the interest. When this group of notes is considered along with the others examined here and with the rest of the album’s liner notes, the result is not wholly negative, but does still leave at least a little something to be desired. Hopefully the clearly hugely talented couple and their fellow musicians will take that into account with their next studio release and make that one that much fuller.
Knowing that the liner notes featured in Duhovi are at least somewhat successful in their mission, one would turn one’s attention to one more full positive featured here, the songs’ sequencing. The sequencing of this record is so important because of the positive general effect that it generates. From the album’s beginning to its end, the sequencing keeps the songs’ sounds and styles changing from one to the next. In similar fashion, they keep the album’s energy moving fluidly, too. The whole starts with an interesting Middle Eastern vibe in ‘Lari Lon’. According to the liner notes, that Middle Eastern vibe is actually Indian. Branko explains that the song was inspired by the music of his favorite Bollywood movie. The mood and energy changes immediately following that song in ‘I’m Sorry,’ which apparently is a song about a breakup. It is also the only song featured in this record that includes a vocal performance. The style and mood changes yet again in the already discussed album’s title track, which is the album’s third entry. The changes in sound, style and mood remain constant from there on to the album’s end in all of the best ways possible. The result is a general effect that does just as much to make this album engaging and entertaining as the album’s primary content. Keeping that in mind, those two elements, and the album’s at least somewhat positive liner note information, the whole makes Duhovi a positive entry in this year’s field of new World Music offerings.
Duhovi, the new album from married musicians Faith and Branko Pristic (Faith and Branco for the sake of the act’s name), is an interesting presentation for any World Music fan. That is evidenced clearly through the album’s primary content, its songs. The songs vary constantly from one to the next, evoking so much emotion while blending the couple’s European roots and some American influence just as expertly. Some background is offered on the songs, which is a positive, though at least a little more would have helped the album’s presentation even more. The songs’ sequencing puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation. It ensures a positive general effect results from listening to the album. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered they make Duhovi a welcome addition to this year’s field of new World Music albums.
Duhovi is available now through Riverboat Records and World Music Network. More information on the couple’s new album is available along with all of its latest news at:
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