Sunday, October 18, 2009

CONCERT: VOLGA on tour in Europe (

Volga can give an additional concert on Friday 6.11.

"Als einzigartiges Project der moskowiter Musikszene kombiniert Volga experimentelle Elektronik und beats mit russischer folklore, heidnischer Psychedelia und Gesängen des alten Russlands vom 12. bis zum 19. Jahrhundert. Live verschmelzen dazu Videoimpressionen mit dem Gesang von Angelika Manukjan (half-armenian), den improvissierten post-industriellen noises von Alexeij Borisow und Uri Balashaov zu Klangbildern mit urbaner Ästhetik." C. Pahl, Feinkost

4.11. arrival in Berlin, maybe concert or party
(do you want to do to a party / concert and invite people? makarow7ignatz?
5.11. Bayreuth ca 450 km
6.11. no show (stay in leipzig or bayreuth) - if nothing happends)
7.11. show in Leipzig
8.11. show in berlin to be confirmed
9.11. show in praha CONFIRMED
10.11. unclear / Poland
11.11. unclear / Poland
12.11. departure to Moscow / you to Lublin

Dear Promoters, liebe Veranstalter,
we trying to set up another club tour for Moscow's Volga in central Europe for the first week of November, enquiries welcome!
wir buchen derzeit eine Club-Tour für Volga aus Moskau, die um die erste Novemberwoche stattfinden soll. Wir würden uns über Euer Interesse, ein Konzert zu veranstalten freuen.
Henning Küpper


This extremely hard-working Moscow-based group started in 1997 and have sofar released six albums, of which 2004's 'Three Fields' CD (Sketis Music) gained widespread attention and critical acclaim in many countries outside Russia. A song from it, 'Red Roze', also remains available on the 'Extreme Music from Russia' compilation CD released by William Bennett's Susan Lawly imprint likewise in 2004 and helped introduce Volga to the UK. In turn, last year, a 'Selected Works' CD was released by Germany's Lollipop Shop, plus a CD of remixes on Sketis Music by a diverse range of artists including COH, Idioritmik, Pink Twins and DJ Kolombo. Besides this, the group often tours Russia and abroad and participates in many different international festivals each year, whilst one of the core members, Alexei Borisov, remains a prolific solo force in contemporary electronic sound-art. Together, Volga successfully weave a wide range of influences. Driven by the highly impressive, strong and often haunting voice of Angela Manukjan, Volga's sound carefully picks away at electronica's more interesting contours; electroacoustic elements; mantric dance rhythms and a variety of traditional, Shamanistic or folk styles from both their native country and far, far beyond. Most of Angela's lyrics are derived from 19th Century Russian folklore/text as well, lending the native vocals an even more unique slant. The group's seventh (yet fifth studio) album, 'Pomol', appears on LTCo in mid-February 2007 and represents their most powerful, inventive and fully-realised work yet. Accessible and buoyant on one hand, dark and sonically confrontational on the other, it possesses a command only too rarely found in what can be loosely deemed pop music.

Angela Manukjan - vocals
Roman Lebedev - electronics, [guitar]
Alexei Borisov - electronics, guitar, back-vocal
Uri Balashov - zvukosuk, tibetian cup

"Volga" is a unique project on the Moscow music scene. It successfully combines experimental electronics, contemporary dance rhythms and original Russian folklore. Pagan psychedelia, shamanism, authentic melodies and lyrics from ancient Russian texts (12th-19th centuries A.D.) mixed with urban aesthetics and contemporary video art are the essential components of Volga's performances.
Volga's current line-up includes: professionally educated vocalist and folklore researcher Angela Manukian (joint projects with Richard Norvila aka Benzo and Species Of Fishes duo); internationally acknowledged electronics specialists and multi-instrumentalists Alexei Borisov (Notchnoi Prospekt, F.R.U.I.T.S., The Gosplan Trio, joint projects with KK Null (Japan), Jeffrey Surak (USA), Anton Nikkila (Finland), Adam Ebringer (Australia), The New Blockaders (UK), Tania Stene (Norway), Sergei Letov (Russia)) and Roman Lebedev (Metal Corrosion, Alien Pat Holman, Idioritmik); Uri Balashov, artist and inventor of selfmade instruments and Grammy winner (artwork for Frank Zappa “Civilization III” album, 1996). The performances of Volga are usually accompanied by video projections created in realtime by Moscow video artist Roman Anikushin and Parisian Oleg Kornev.
Volga often tours in Russia and abroad and has also participated in different international music festivals including Burg Herzberg Open Air 2000 (Germany), SKIF-4 (St.Peterburg, Russia, 2000), Vital Water 2002/04 (Altai, Russia), HUH Festival in Tallinn (Estonia, 2003), The Festival of Russian Contemporary Art in Kiasma Museum in Helsinki (Finland, 2004), “Sayan Ring 2004” (Siberia, Russia), East-West Festival in Die (France, 2004), Progress Ex-04 in Ljubljana (Slovenia 2004), Days of Russian Culture in Bangkok (Thailand 2004).
The self-titled debut CD of Volga was released in 1999 by Moscow based Exotica Records and received very positive responses not only from critics but also from audiences in Russia and Europe as well. The follow-up CD, “Bottoms up!”, released at the beginning of 2003, is a collection of Volga's most melodic and danceable songs. The third release of Volga was a CD entitled “Concert”, recorded live at DOM club in Moscow and released by Sketis Music in April 2003. The latest CD, “Three Fields,” was released by Volga in cooperation with Sketis Music in 2004.

Pomol, Lumberton 2008, by Daniel Brown, Mondomix
Centred on vocalist Angela Menukian and electronics wizard Roman Lebedev (who also plays the guitar), this Moscow-based quartet is one of Russia’s most established electronica/folklore bands. Manukian revives Russian texts that go as far back as the 1100s and Volga catapults them into the 21st century, thanks to their post-industrial electronic beats. In late 2007, they brought out their sixth album Pomol. Pomol

This is one album that will constantly challenge listeners to define it. Transported by Angela Menukian’s otherworldly vocals, it bounces from the deeply experimental mélanges of “Tausen” and “Svaha” to the haunting, at times archaic, folklore of “Sufi” and the opener “Reapers”. Menukian has gathered Russian texts she found in remote villages that range from the 12th to the 18th centuries. The symbolic nature of Volga’s work is hidden in the album title which derives from the verb “to ground down grains” and its colloquial meaning “to chatter, to talk”. For the quartet, pomol is a symbol of the hard grind of peasant life down the ages.

The unlikely mixture of techno with over a dozen ethno-linguistic traditions is startling and effective. Trekking well beyond Russia’s Volga region, Menukian has recorded sounds that include Altai throat singing and poetry from Smolensk, Tver, the Caucasus mountains and Ryazan. Her linguistic journey is mixed in with ritualistic pagan psychedelia to disturbing effect. The electronic trance programmes are violent and abrasive, enhanced by the complexity of Menukian’s vocal exercises. These come to a climax in the middle of the album with the songs “Tausen” (Autumn) and “Volga Mother”.

Interestingly, the group adds traditional instruments like the Tibetan cup, a Russian equivalent of the Jew’s harp called the vargan and the zvukosuk string instrument (all played by Uri Balashov). They invade the post-industrial electronics and wrench the listener away from any illusion that this is a pure dance album. In songs like “Kubaha”, the swirling, hypnotic use of these three instruments give these Slav tunes an emotional impact that one rarely trips over in electronic music.

The intelligent inter-weaving of all these contrasting melodies, rhythms and sounds make these 13 songs a rollercoaster ride that one reviewer compared to “Peruvian songs of Icaros, performed by folk healers at ceremonies in order to expand participants’ consciousness.” Yet the intensely ornate vocal dexterity of Menukian creates a harmonious coexistence between worlds that are centuries apart. This is what many are hailing as the cutting edge of a new Russian sound that draws from the breathtaking variety and range of this vast land. One can only hope that Volga opens up its world further by, for example, translating the lyrics that are so finely interpreted.
February 20th 2008 Daniel Brown

They sound like bees trapped in a drainpipe and their songs, allegedly ancient, seem modern. Charlie Gillett thinks their strange brew of Portishead and Philip Glass is a winner
Sunday October 17, 2004, The Observer
Volga Three Fields (Volga/Sketis Music)
There are no guitars on this record. You have a feeling that these Moscow-based musicians probably did once listen to guitars, and quite liked them. It's just that, unlike so many in Britain and America, they grew out of them.
What the musicians of Volga do play, according to the credits on the sleeve, are electronics. Electronics? Have components of amplifiers now become musical instruments in their own right? Something like that, it seems. Sure enough, the noises at the start of each track are unlike anything we've heard before. But they do sound electronic. More to the point, they sound electrifying.
From the moment I first heard the strange sound of Volga, I've been intrigued and fascinated. The circumstances in which I heard them were themselves bizarre. In July, I was one of 10 international jurors at the Sayan Ring Festival of Russian Folk Music in southern Siberia. From 6-11pm on each of three evenings, we sat at a trestle table in the middle of a football field on the edge of a holiday camp with a brief to choose the best three out of a total of 35 acts.
When the jury retired to a room in the stands to choose our winners, we were tantalized by the sound of a band that was entertaining the crowd after the competition had finished. In through an open window floated the eerie voice of a woman who sounded like a long-lost Russian cousin of Annie Lennox; beseeching, yearning, accompanied by inexplicable sounds. By the time we had made our decisions, the band had left the stage. But I did find out their name - Volga - and blagged an album from one of their number.
There's always a danger that with such a build-up, the album might turn out to be a disappointment. But it delivers all the promise of that first introduction, and three months later my fascination is undiminished. I can't decide which is more arresting - the noises made by those electronic engineers, or the voice of Anjela Manukjan. She sings high on some songs, low on others, and soars like an opera soprano on 'Psalm'. It says on the back that these are pagan songs of ancient Russia, but Anjela makes them sound as if she wrote them.
Each time I listen I hone in on a new favourite, and today it's 'Verejushka', which might have been the one that made me think of Annie Lennox, back in that football field. Behind Anjela, it sounds like one of the boys is dropping ping-pong balls onto a rubber floor, another plays what might be door chimes and a third weaves a bass line that keeps the song moving forward, feeling its way in the dark. If you could trap a bee, put it in a hollow tube and then amplify the noises it makes as it travels to the other end, you might get something like the buzzing, sawing sound that enlivens the second song, 'On the Hill'. Making a guess at Volga's possible antecedents and inspirations, I imagine they might cite 'I Feel Love' by Donna Summer, 'O Superman' by Laurie Anderson, 'Only You' by Yazoo, Dummy by Portishead and some of the hypnotic, cyclical compositions of Philip Glass and Terry Riley. But the album is less a distillation of those records than a giant leap on from all of them.
There are a couple of songs with enough of a regular beat to make them feel like potential contenders for open-minded dancers, but I've got to admit that the record has not appealed to everybody who has heard it. I happened to have it with me while visiting a friend whose Soho office was next to that of the manager of a young British singer-songwriter, being touted as the next Nick Drake. When he asked me what I liked at the moment, I played a minute or so of a couple of songs from this album. To his credit, he kept most of his discomfort hidden, but couldn't quite suppress a twitch of distaste. I hastily took the album off, not wanting to taint it with anybody's disapproval. On the other hand, radio listeners have rushed to the net in search of their own copy, and with success too - it is sold by a website ( that enables you to deposit your euros with Paypal, so your money's safe.

This has been a year for more good records than any I can remember, but several of them have been reflective, almost nostalgic albums, and I have a feeling that Volga's Three Fields is going to be one that defines 2004 as the year in which we landed with both feet in the 21st century.

Volga, Pomol
*** (Lumberton Trading Company)
John L Walters, Friday June 8, 2007, The Guardian

On their MySpace site, Volga describe their music as experimental/electronica/folk, which will do as well as the "Slavic psychodelia" promised on their website. Angela Manukian belts out a variety of ancient texts, while her three Russian bandmates produce a sympathetic backdrop of beats and twangs. The results are variously invigorating, edgy, catchy, and occasionally thumpingly tedious. Their videos give the impression of a pre-makeover Kraftwerk appearing on a 1970s keep-fit programme: Europe Endless for short attention spans. The bespectacled Manukian sits on a stool while two of her colleagues hunch over their laptops. The fourth, Uri Balashov, saws away with a bow at a curious instrument called the zvukosuk; he also plays Tibetan cup and vargan (a kind of Jew's harp). Balashov is also a visual artist (responsible for the cover to Zappa's posthumous Civilization Phaze III), while Manukian is a folklorist, which gives an authentic note to Volga's incantations.,,2097723,00.html

01. April 2007 WESTZEIT Text: Karsten Zimalla
Volga - Pomol Lumberton Trading Company/Cargo
Danke, lieber Zufall! Ich verwechselte die Band um Roman Lebedew mit dem ECR-Projekt Wonga (dabei war Volga auf "Extreme Music From Russia" vertreten und hat auch auf Lollipop veröffentlicht) und wurde von dieser reichlich sensationellen Scheibe aus Moskau angenehmst überrascht. AvantPsychFolk: Eine feine Kombination aus vertrauten, aber sehr findig zusammengebauten Elektroversatzstücken und eindringlichem, oft ans schamanische heranreichendem Gesang (ganz groß: Angela Manukjan!). Diese Stimme ist so wohltuend weit weg von europäischen Einheitlichkeiten (sei's DSDS-Vibratoterror oder skandinavisches Feenwispern!), bewegt sich so sicher zwischen Tradition und Experiment, daß Verwechslungen in Zukunft mit Sicherheit nicht mehr vorkommen.

Nick Southgate. VOLGA: THREE FIELDS, Wire, November 2004
Throughout Russia’s turbulent history the Volga has always flowed, its 2000 navigable miles an artery of commerce and culture, of peoples and their passions. The group Volga create a music with a similar sense of eternal flow and temporal omnipresence, gracefully melding timeless and ancient folk motifs with the fleeting immediacy of Ambient experiment. This effect is created by framing the vocals of Anjela Manukjan, who adopts Russian folk styles, with electroacoustic washes that stretch out behind the music like vast fertile floodplains.
Opener “Red Roze” sketches out the Volga blueprint. Treated sonic artefacts from stringed instruments scuttle an trickle into white noise tributaries while the implacable soaring vocal, endlessly doubled and redoubled, pushes on in its smooth but deep running legato course.
“Snow Balls” is faster paced, with an electropop pulse of blips and squeakes and a sample from cult Pebbles garage rockers The Calico Wall’s “Flight Reaction”, an indicative yardstick for Volga’s eclecticism. Such fare has led confirmed fan Charlie Gillett to compare Volga with the early and more imaginative Eurythmics singles, and the comparison has the merit of being both insightful and informative.
In almost all instances the instrumental backings are distinctive, quirky and interesting enough to be compelling in their own right. Very ocassionally, gentler passages flounder in insipid meanders akin to budget ‘moods’ albums of the type producers wishing to give the vocals a cliched faux dignity might favor. However, these moments are rare and it would be churlish to let them hinder one’s pleasure of following Volga as they flow home to the sea.

skug Reviews: Volga - Bottoms Up! (Exotika/N& B Research Digest)
Auf ihrer neuen Scheibe verbreitet das russische Trio Volga erneut eine feine Mixtur aus elektronischer (Nicht-)Tanzmusik mit hypnotischer Stimme. Wie schon Volga (1999) ist die neue Scheibe auf dem superben Exotika-Label erschienen. Anjela Manukjans Stimme kommt aus den Weiten der Steppe = Unterbewusstsein, befreit mit tantrischen Beschwörungsformeln die Sehnsucht nach unendlicher Weite in der beengenden Mitte des Clubs und macht den DJ endgltig zum neuzeitlichen Schamanen. Die Electronica-Sounds, die Alexei Borisov (F.R.U.I.T.S.) und Roman Lebedev verbreiten, sind tanzbar, haben House-Einschlag, sind ab und an reduziert in Instrumentierung und Tempo. Tracks wie Vdovushra/ Widow bzw. Molodushka/Bride sind Klangperlen, die sich in ihrer versponnenen Gebrochenheit auf Wave ausgehen.
Volga haben einiges ihrer Düsterheit abgelegt, sind zuglicher, aber nicht leichter. Bottoms Up ist eine Platte, die aufgrund ihrer inneren Schönheit, Ausgereiftheit und Trickyness praktisch überall verstanden wird und bei der der Name Programm ist: Bottoms Up and your mind will follow. Volga gehört gehört.
skug - online Heinrich Deisl 12-05-2003

Slavic Psychedelia encompassing New Global Folk Music
“Volga” is a fanciful blend of postindustrial electronics and archaic percussion coupled to the boundless and finely nuanced voice of Angela Manukian chanting old ritual songs of Russia in her melodic interpretation. If the former has some approximate analogies to Western experimental music, then on the whole the project does not quite fit into traditional categories of electronica/world music, Russian or Slavic folk, or pagan music. Rather all these elements are interwoven in the group’s work into a new music phenomena.
Similar to Peruvian magic songs Icaros, performed by folk healers at ceremonies to expand participants’ consciousness, “Volga’s” songs take listeners’ souls on a journey. To fly up beyond the ordinary into the world of mysteries and forest spirits, of whirl and cosmic resonance where a person opens up to new facets of his/her consciousness. As a result, the healing takes place for a Russian in a world quickly losing its self-identity, in his/her revitalizing connection with the magic of old Russia (in Russian folklore, ritual tunes and Slavic polyrhythmics) and in its harmonious coexistence, in one’s mind, with futuristic arrangements of new global folk music (electronic tribal rhythms and percussion). Either one, enhanced by hypnotic lead vocal, entrances in its own manner, elevating over a humdrum existence to give a sense of celebration and connectedness.
Ancient authentic Russian texts from the 1100’s-1800’s have been gathered by Angela from Russian villages in different regions of the vast country in their own dialects. Each dialect, with its distinctive articulation, forms a unique vocal manner and sound, studied and mastered by the singer in their finest nuances. Her vocal techniques thus range from the academic to Russian Orthodox church to over a dozen ethnic traditions, including those of the Russian Volga area, North, Northeast, Northwest, South, Mid-Russia, Smolensk, Ryazan, Tver, Altai throat singing, Caucasus mountains, Middle East, Balkans, and India. Therefore the Western listener “Volga” takes on a journey into the richness of sound texture of the old and new Russia, never introduced into the world music before. Russian’s mixture of hard consonants and soft round vowels, especially in Angela’s richly intonated delivery, has a lyrical and calming effect. While its fusion with techno, trance, breakbeat mixed with elements of noise and sound of archaic instruments create a danceable ritualistic music with a touch of pagan psychedelia, bringing it to the cutting edge of the new Russian sound.
Anya Zontova

Volga (CD, Exotica Records 1999)
Bottoms up! (CD, Exotica Records 2003)
Concert (CD, Sketis Music 2003)
Three Fields (CD, Volga/Sketis Music 2004)
Selected Works (CD, Volga/Lollipop Shop 2005)
5 - Remixed (CD, Volga / Sketis music 2005)
Pomol (CD, Lumberton Trading 2006)

Henning Kuepper
Stubbenkammerstr. 3, 10437 Berlin
+ 49 (0) 30 - 44 71 46 81
+ 49 (0) 162 - 739 11 77

Alexei Borisow
+7 91 04 56 46 21

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