Important RecordsBarbez (US,2004)***°
Barbez consists of dancer, lead singer Ksenia Vidyaykina (from St.Petersburg, Russia), bandleader and leader singer, guitarist Dan Kaufman (from Wisconsin ; with interest in flamenco guitar ; -he’s also guitarist for Rebecca Moore-), vibraphonist Danny Tunick, (who also played with Guv'ner, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Rebecca Moore,..), theremin player Pamela Kurstin (she played before with Air, The Sea and Cake, David Byrne, Cibo Matto,..), bass player, electronica man Dan Coates (from Minnesota ; he’s also the inventor of ‘Pocket Pool’, a sonically inclined palm pilot), drummer & melodica player Shahzad Ismaily(he played before with Marc Ribot, Brian Eno, The Boredoms, Eyvand Kang, Secret Chiefs 3, etc...). On this release there were also guest musicians : violinist Eszter Balint, vocalist Nils Frykdahl (from Idiot Flesh, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Faun Fables), drummer Anthony Nozero (playing Drums and Tuba), and toy instrument player Rebecca Moore.
Barbez is a post-cabaret chamber ensemble. They are a bit like “provoking”, with a punk-like attitude, their interest in Argentine tango & Kurt Weil songs into a chamber music style. Brecht/Weil’s music is supposed to be for all the people, in this way it’s back from the people. Ksenia brings also Slavic folksongs to the repertoire.
In general the style of the group is this kind of vibrant chambermusicrock, which works almost like theatre in its progression partly thanks to Ksenia’s cabaret-story like vocal expressions. The theremin takes care of some weird effects, while the accordion and vibraphone gives the music a tango/jazzrock like swing, or something playful elsewhere. The violin smoothly pulls the musical forms together, reminding us: that this is a chamber orchestra, no?...
The Weil song interpretations have something odd, which is away from its original content, and into a sub-theatre play, with more emphasis on the theatreplay itself than usual. I've experienced before how Weil/Brecht’s music enfolded itself under Lotte Lenya’s lead back in the thirties in Berlin, then became a different stimulation to idealisms in New York before the war. Barbez interpretations compared to this, are more surreal. The rhythmal section takes us from tango to chambermusicrock which is stimulated by accordion and electric guitars. The combination in moments works like theatrical tangorock if you wish.