Thursday, January 1, 2004

Review - Old Street

Artist: Cascade Folk Trio

Posted on Thu, Jan 1, 2004 at 4:00 AM

Armenian folk music is both unique and deeply familiar. Trapped, as it were, between the crushing influences of Islam, Russian Orthodoxy, gypsy culture and various bouts of ethnic cleansing, the Armenians manage to maintain their cultural identity while absorbing the good parts of whichever culture happens to be making life miserable for the country. With a sheen of optimism undercut by a sense of familiar melancholy, the musicians of Cascade Folk Trio infuse their songs with just enough modernity to make them relevant, while holding steadfast to the basic melodic and structural elements of Armenian folk music. And while you can bet that a cheesy synth line like the one on "You Are a Doe" is just a nod to the now, the pure simplicity of the song's romantic message is pretty timeless. Unfortunately, it's little touches like that very synth line that detract some from the joy of "Old Street." Although the group makes ample use of their prodigious vocal talents (harmonies fall all over each other for an incredibly luscious sound) and their obvious skill on traditional instruments, the lure of digital drums and preprogrammed synthesizers was just too much. Though they don't pop up on every song, they show up often enough to break the reverie of a drawn-out violin or even an accordion. Again, nobody says music should stay trapped in amber, but consistency is a quality almost as admirable as progression.


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