Purists will argue that Akvarium ceased to exist after Equinox and Boris's disappointing trip west to record his first solo album, Radio Silence. In many respects this is true: the key talents behind such albums as Silver Day, Radio Africa and Aroks i Shtyor were never to record another album of new material together, though several collections of non-album songs were subsequently to be released (see APXUB).
Who could have predicted, though, that Boris could have bounced back so quickly and so brilliantly with the release of Russian Album in 1992? For this album and for its live companion piece The Letters of Captain Voronin the group playing with B.G. was called "The B.G. Band" and featured a much different line-up than the pre-1989 Akvarium. By the time his next album was recorded, however, B.G. had made the controversial decision to call his ever-changing band "Akvarium," maintaining, then and now, that "Akvarium" is a sound and a style of music and not a specific group of people. He has a point, though many of his surviving ex-bandmates pointedly disagree.
In any event, BG's output over the past 10 years has included lots of wonderful music: from the serendipitous splendors of Kostroma, mon amour, to the beautiful melancholy of Navigator, up to the mellower, playful pleasures of 2000's Psi. Along the way there have been less successful outings, but even these have much to offer the devoted Pilgrim, as Boris has continued his unique quest to reflect and refract his русская душа in different musical idioms.
Beautiful. Fundamental. This is arguably the single greatest Akvarium album and it is definitely among the greatest rock albums. After his one and a half foreign solo albums, B.G. toured with "The B.G. Band," recording two albums under that name before renaming the band Akvarium. This piece of genius is the first of those recordings. My theory is that it marks Boris' recovery from a bad spate of bewilderment and disillusionment after he got out of the crumbling USSR into the wasteland of late '80s England/America under the influence of record company folks and his own longstanding ideas of what it means to be a rock star in the West. With Russian Album he takes his own advice (circa Acoustics) and grabs hold of his roots.
Favorite Songs of Ramses IV is a great example of the so-called new Akvarium. It contains almost every ingredient that is by now became a part of Grebenshikov's arsenal of choice. Able to afford children's choirs and harpsichords along with sitars and other post Sgt. Pepper fluff, he indulges in it with the appetite of a deprived child, but with a surprisingly good end result.
Ruddha buddha buddha, chock full of Russkii buddha. Say howdy to the throat singers and welcome the return of whirligig instrumentation and even the Munchkin chorus as B.G. and New Akvarium perfect their move into Trans-World Music. After this, nothing is forbidden.
Sails oceans of musical influence, from the accordion horn-pipe of "Little Blue Light" to the C&W wah-wah of "Garçon №2" and back again by way of harps, saxes, mandolins, flutes, harmonicas and blues guitars, triumphing in every port of call. Thematically and stylistically linked to Russian Album but more wide-ranging and ironic in it's approach, it's a journey of personal and political disillusionment. All misery, though, should sound so good, and after the aforementioned this is the essential Akvarium production of the '90s. Bon Voyage!
A beautiful album. It's "of a piece" in sound, but widely varied in style, provoking a "I like it, but what is it?" reaction from many first-time Akvarium listeners: Is it pseudo-Irish folk? Is it a sometimes obnoxiously hard-rockin' anthem album? Is it something else? Yes. It is a wondrous gongranjameu of spagtratnastosterical confabulations. It is so good that evaluation of Snow Lion requires a shining new vocabulary.
Misleadingly named. This is not one of Boris's bizarro solo projects; this is a bona fide bizarro "Aquarium Incognito" project. The "Russian-Abyssinian Orchestra" is just the usual Akvarium guys playing chanted, droned, flauted, rondoed, saiaiaiaii-ed, mantra-ed music in a fantabulous language all their own. (Sorry Sigur Ros, but Boris was merrily singing vaguely suggestive syllabic nonsense when you were still in Icelandic Huggies). Upside of that: you don't need to understand a word of Russian to fully appreciate this album. Fans of Oleg Sakmarov (you know who you are, you call him "Ded") need this record.
This inside fold of this album notes that it is dedicated to "The Acoustic War." We hereby re-dedicate it to the Bodhisattvas' War.
In the spirit of the Artist formally known as the unpronouncable symbol formally known as Prince (Nelson), this album is actually called Ψ. We think BG may have done this in order to give our web-page the hiccups. Ψ it is, then, on formal occasions, but "Psi" or "Pitchfork" to those of us who are на ты. Opinions differ, but an infinite number of Bodhisattvas agree that Ψ is a good album... though they differ on exactly how good.
Pentagonal Sin indeed. Devilish Decadence summoned forth from some Pagan Temple of Forbidden Delight, leading us not so much into temptation as into bewilderment. This album, the third "Aquarium Incognito" opus, reminds me of a glass of lake water I once kept all year in a corner of the basement to see what strange and wonderful things would grow there in the damp and dark and murk...
Wash this article in the synthetic cycle only or dry clean. A December's Children for the new millennium? Perhaps so, in its unabashed use of samples, synths and electronic sounds...and in its strong tendency to divide Bodhisattvas along strictly sectarian lines, chanting conflicting mantras into the starry void.
Human beings don't genuinely need many things to survive, but Salt is one of them.