Kin Za Za: Number 1 in Shambala
Sense Records/Coueur de lion (In Canada Distributed
Out of nowhere this duo of Montreal
goldsmiths have produced a little jewel of an album that will capture
the hearts of all lovers of Celtic tones. They speak of rivers, of
secret dances, and forgotten stories that resurface through the power
of love… the production is very rich and the voice of the singer Jozy
is used to great effect. Melodically the sound is somewhere between
Sarah McLachlan and Loreena Mckennit or Rose Chronicles, and it will
send you to the same spheres, though the structure here is more open
and the captain of the ship, Dimitri, seems able to navigate any depths.
Contemplative and beautiful. (ÉT)
HITS BBC MUSIC ONLINE
For today's Global Hit, we meet
a couple of Montreal-based musicians who describe themselves as "aliens
on a journey to an unknown galaxy."
Jozi Fever and Dimitri Soukonnov first met in the late 1990's. Soon
after they formed the duo "Kin Za Za." While the two musicians
love to describe their collaboration in science fiction terms, with
lot's of talk about other planets, their music is very much rooted
in the culture of this planet. Jozi and Dimitri just want to keep
you guessing as to where on Earth they get their inspiration.
Dimitri composes most of the music for Kin Za Za. It's influenced
by his other artistic incarnations. Dimitri started his professional
life in Moscow's avant garde theatre world. He then went on to work
as a filmmaker in Berlin and London. Later, he settled in Montreal.
That's where he met his musical partner Jozi, a Canadian singer, pianist
and stage performer. Her floating vocals give Kin Za Za its distinct
Kin Za Za: number one in shambala (Sense Records - 2002)
Magical emusic moments are conjured up by Dimitri Soukonov
topped by the sweet, undeniable voice of Jozeyeland in Kin Za Za's
number one in shambala.
Shuffling rhythms and assorted
jangling, pulsing strings are teased by synthetic wraiths and Jozy's
rich singing when the river flows into the interstitial groove of
spirit that left (0:32) then into the flavorful melancholia-laced
beauty of endless freedom.
Soft somewhere could almost be an a cappella radio-ready
ballad, though beyond its hushed refrains, ghostly entities wriggle
before evolving into a subtle musicality. Multi-tracked vocals create
the entrancing self-chorus which reflects from mirror (4:39). elation
exemplifies the best of Kin Za Za's craftiness... subtle- though-compelling
beatronics pulse beneath teasingly light instrument sounds (here strings,
synths, piano and even accordion) and phantasmal whiffs of textural
vagueness as Jozeyeland's voice dances liltingly...
by David J Opdyke (USA)
Kin Za Za - Number One in Shambala Review by Ear Medicine :: Nothing
but Music Reviews
At the heart of this album is a cluster of intriguing
melodies and harmonies, played with great attention to the detail
of the slow, asymmetric patterns that characterize modern Ambient-Folk.
Innovative and engrossing, this musical mosaic recreates the journey
of a soul over "The River" that connects life and death.
Each song is a different snapshot of this journey delivered with Kin
Za Za's uniquely contemplative quality. This is a masterly work: mesmeric
in the restless shifts and slides of its theme, unstoppable in its
streaming and transparent intensity. When the band is as good as this,
there's nobody you can directly compare them with. But it's not unreasonable
to bracket Kin Za Za alongside Tory Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Delirium,
Dead Can Dance or even Peter Gabriel (Mirror) in terms of their overall
energy, mood and musical/visual impact. However, as I mentioned above,
Kin Za Za are definitely unique in their own right, and offer an impressive
"#1 in Shambala" is a musical translation
distantly derived from a "Tibetan Book of the Death". The
duo has made of it something pleasingly old-fashioned, yet viscerally
and sensually modern. The unobtrusive use of loops and samples in
the band's work highlighted their inclination to explore the balance
between the instrument's natural sonorities and electronic manipulations.
The sound is infinitely layered, dense and yet transparent; numerous
tracks of weaving, flirting melodic particles - bits of harmonium,
cello, accordion, dripping piano, synths, and heavily chorused strings
(I'm a dance) - share space with a vibrant, sparkling tide of acoustic
guitar. Flying above it all are the vocals - pure, powerful and melodic.
Dimitri's structural and harmonic depth and Jozy's vocal flexibility
produced a stark and beautiful sonic sculpture. When implemented like
this, it seems a unified emotional journey.
Another beauty of this album (DVD edition) is, the
interaction of the sound and image: what you hear is almost impossible
to separate from what you see. The link between music and videos never
slackens. It comes as no surprise that Kin Za Za are obsessive filmmakers,
a devourers of cinema history, and the generic inspiration for the
bands name is Russian absurdist, sci-fi cult comedy "Kin Dza
12 songs comprising 50 min of sonic trip and there
isn't a single second of music Kin Za Za can't be proud of. With a
coating of light melodies revealing a colossal harmonic edifice, "#1
in Shambala" is smooth, soulful music for any generation. This
is an album whose music lives in the mind, thanks to
Kin Za Za's distinctive approach and outstanding production. This
one goes straight into the list of my favorite albums of the year.
Reviewed by A.D (USA)
...The harmonies are suptuous weaves of guitar arpeggios
and soaring vocals. Nothing less then vision inducing... The mood
shifts between underground and pop, with subtle fusions of style...
Number 1 in Shambala is an original and consistent 12-song album --
smooth, spacy, emotionally esoteric, yet infectious and easily accessible.
The album opens with the medium tempo song "The River",
a track built around a sophisticated guitar groove, bold vocal performance
and hypnotic textures. The eccentric "Endless Freedom" has
a European tint with seamless exchanges of time signatures (3/4 hip-hop
beat on top of 6/8) and nicely rendered classical guitar. Throughout
the rest of the album Kin Za Za establishes dreamy, fluid coherency
and wholesome inventiveness. Each song tends to connect one with another.
'Number 1 in Shambala' is an
ethereal fly through a galaxy, populated by shifting rhythms, blends
of eastern harmony, subliminal beats and beautiful vocal lines. It
is an extremely visual and well thought out album, one of those gems
that inspire you to listen to music again, to hear what you see, and
to see what you hear. This is amazing work.
by Eric Mezia (France)
The "future", far from
being a place where everything is done for us, is rapidly evolving
into a place where we'll be given the tools to do everything ourselves.
For a band with the right mix of artistic skills -- like Kin Za Za
-- it's a harmonic convergence of ability and opportunity, a chance
to rise to the top of the heap without getting mired in the corporate
Kin Za Za's music is ornate, elegant and layered
-- a mixture of Celtic influences, folk-rock and seductive trip-hop
that wisely emphasizes vocalist Jozy Fever's impassioned performance.
Dimitri Soukonnov, the all-purpose svengali of the duo, assembles
the duo's intricate tunes, and you can tell that he slaves over every
second of every track -- everything, from piano to loops to samples,
has clearly been tweaked and polished to perfection. Such is Dimitri's
attention to detail that it comes as no surprise to learn he's also
a filmmaker, responsible for the group's exquisite videos, which look
exactly like the images that play in your mind's eye as you listen
to their music...
George Zahora (USA)
COLLECTED SOUNDS 10/10/02
...Simply put this is a remarkable CD. It's got gorgeous
vocals, moody atmospheric melodies, intricate instrumentations and
rhythms, which are both soothing and pulsating...
Jozy's gorgeous voice is mesmerizing on every track. But "When
You Arrive" has great deep resonating cello that melts my knees.
...when I hear music my mind's eye imagines certain
images, colors, textures and such. This music, at least to me, evokes
a certain type of image, which I can't really describe, but when I
popped in the VHS that was sent along with the CD and watched, I said
to myself, "exactly!" The images that they've put together
to support the music matches it to perfection. There is talk of releasing
a DVD shortly with all these videos on it. Be sure to pick that up
UMBRELLA MUSIC 10/18/02
Kin Za Za's ambient sounds are a pleasant blend of
Jozeyeland's soothing, gossamer vocals, jazz and classical guitar,
soulful strings, lyrical Celtic tones and bits of electronic noise...
It's like one long, lush lullaby, from the opening raindrop-like notes
of "The River" to the melancholy melody of "Story".
Even at its gentlest and most subdued moments, there is an undercurrent
of joy running throughout Number One in Shambala that elevates it
and makes it worth repeat listens.
Jaclyn Law (Canada)
The Ectophiles` Guide
The music they make is exquisite, well-crafted New
Age pop; imagine Enya vectored in the direction of Mandalay. Dimitri
Soukonnov crafts intricate tapestries of electronic and acoustics,
often augmented by cellos, the harmonium, accordion and violins. It's
beautiful, and shimmering, and smooth; the melodies add enough left
turns to keep it from being too predictable. Jozy Fever has a gorgeous
voice, classically-trained and pure--at times, it recalls Loreena
McKennitt or Louisa John-Krol.
Craig Gidney (USA)
LUNA KAFÉ record review 10/21/02
...Their debut album is an arresting affair. Drawing
inspiration from a number of different sources, they supply a mesmeric
blend of electronica and Celtic folk music. Jozy Fever's sweet voice
is at the centre of each song, surrounded by lush soundscapes...
...It's an album that's very easy on the ears, but it is also complex
Anna Maria Stjärnell (Sweeden)
I-MOCKERY / MUSIC REVIEWS
Reviewer: Carl Danio
Review: Somehow, Kin Za Za achieved what no other independent group
has done quite so effectively: to sustain an uncompromising visual
and sonic quality across entire album (DVD release) without any corporate
intervention. It is full of deeply imaginative videos that is a joy
to watch after the stupidity and sameness that clogs our TVs.
On close inspection "N1 In Shambala" is
a radical evolution of the Ambient New Age music.
Kin Za Za's structural freedom gives their songs a sense of dreamy
narrative. Their production techniques transform acoustic arrangements,
futuristic sampling and strong female vocals into spacious dimensions
that conjure up childhood memories, unknown cultures, cosmic dreams
and passionate sensuality. You're submerged into dense arrangements
packed with thousands of melodic dialogs. But most impressive is the
singers voice: lush, smooth, beautiful and powerful all at once. For
me its her timber and musicality that captivates again and again.
N1 in Shambala, connects with the old, deep and strange roots of classical
and folk music, yet has a cutting edge lacking in the relaxing world
of commercial new age music. In its reach, its profusion of meanings
and perspectives it has something of the texture of the cosmos. This
is a subtle and affecting album. Gorgeous!
Originality: 10, Lyrics: 7, Sound Quality: 10, Musicianship:
10, Album Art: 10, Overall: 10
a lulling electronic pop base that suspends you between earth and
sky, sweet, soaring vocals and danceable beats, this album will fit
comfortably into your wardrobe of diverse musical needs…
...It's a haunted collision of Celtic stories and sci-fi mentality,
full of electrified myths and melodies…
A quite nice conceptual album of moody, ethereal, experimental pop
with adroit, expressive vocals by chanteuse Jozeyeland and kitchen
sink production by Dimitri Soukonnov. A lot of this album reminds
me of October Project and Sarah McClachlan with trip-hop overtones.
The album packaging is great and the duo has a strong artistic vision.
This is finely wrought indie mood music.
edited by J. Esch
Desde Montreal, Canadá nos llega un concepto
que solo se define como Kin Za Za. El compositor Dimitri Soukonnov
y la enigmática cantante Jozeyeland son dos artistas que han
decicido plasmar no solamente música, sino todo un universo
de expresiones en esta producción debut titulada Number
one in Shambala.
El nombre Kin Za Za es fruto de la imaginación, aunque tiene
sus orígenes en una película rusa, satírica y
fantasiosa del director Georgi Daneliya realizada en 1986 (Kin-Dza-Dza).
Aunque también se dice que tiene cierta conexión con
un monje Tibetano de nombre Kin-Za, el cual viajó por el norte
del viejo mundo hace 3,000 años enseñando una serie
de técnicas espirituales secretas aprendidas de culturas nóridcas,
eslávicas y célticas. Esa misma forma, con un poco de
humor, imaginación, fantasía, misticismo y existencia
atemporal es lo que en conjunto define a Kin Za Za.... read
full review here
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
The press materials that accompany this tasty fusion of groove, world
rhythms and textures, acoustic guitars (by composer Dimitri) and ethereal
vocals by an enigmatic figure named Jozy are fairly grandiose. We're
told that Kin Za Za is not a fusion of styles, not a fusion of cultures,
but a fusion of feelings and different truths, even death and birth.
Does the music measure up? Certainly, the trippy atmospheres and lyrical
images ("The River," "I Am a Dance") conjure up
images that connect the heart and mind to life and the universe-and
the tracks flow effortlessly into a cool aggressive ambience... read
full review here