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Kin Za Za: Number 1 in Shambala
Sense Records/Coueur de lion (In Canada Distributed by Select)

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)


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 sound.

Ambientrance Review
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)

ear medicine review
Earmedicine 9/12/02
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 musical vision.

"#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 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)

Métropolitain 8/3/2002

...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...

EM-Reviews 9/5/2002
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)

Spledid Review

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 rock structure.

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 review

...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 as well.

Amy (USA)

Umbrella Music review

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)

Ectophiles Review

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 Cafe review
LUNA KAFÉ record review

...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 and beautiful.

Anna Maria Stjärnell (Sweeden)


Genre: World/Folk
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

CD BABY REVIEW…With 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…

NAV REVIEW ...It's a haunted collision of Celtic stories and sci-fi mentality, full of electrified myths and melodies…

Turk's head review 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

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


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