Taras Bulba: Venier Le Temps LP

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Another unclassifiable oddity from the always on point Strooomy, "Venier Le Temps" collects up choice cuts from impressively obscure German ethno-trance duo Taras Bulba. Cast yer mind somewhere between Vangelis, Steve Hillage, Jam & Spoon, quirky eastern euroopean Eurovision entries x Enigma for a vague idea of what's inside. Taras Bulba was the duo of Tom Redecker (aka The Perc) and Volker Kahrs (aka Mist, of popular psych-rockers Grobschnitt), but barely made a mark with their two albums: 1993's "Sketches of Babel" and its 1995 follow-up "Peyote Moon". A selection of their tracks were compiled on 2009's "The Best of Now & Zen", but this one opts to highlight a different side of their output completely, showing off Redecker and Kahrs' ability to mutate in and out of styles and forms. The most recognizable undercurrent throughout is early '90s trance and downtempo - but they curl through lounge, new age, pop and ambient in a way that shouldn't be unfamiliar to fans of the Stroom vibe. The duo take a left turn when they fold in folky vox and squelchy electronic bass, inhabiting a space between syrupy downtempo and fourth world new age sounds. They push more forcefully into trance architecture on 'The Ashman', but keep the tempo at a crawl, with a conscious nod to Daniele Baldelli's cosmic disco. 'A New Day's Coronation' meanwhile is a Michael Mann-esque VHS zoner, all rainfall shimmers and plastic synths that wouldn't sound out of place on a death's dynamic shroud LP. Things get muddy on 'Pierres Sacradees', when Kahrs and Redecker slide chunky rave organs into French electro samba, centering a Gauloises-textured vocal from Lea Saby, and on 'Wintertanz' there's an awkward electroid re-imagining of a traditional folk dance. Taras Bulba's approach doesn't always work but that's what makes it fascinating; they were operating at a time when concepts still felt permeable, where a TB-303 inserted into a Pagan folk jam didn't seem off the wall. And when it does work, it fully inspires: 'San Ma Riene' is a euphoric centerpiece that buries folk influences in Balearic guitars, digital horns and chopped vocal vortexes for a properly mad slice of trippy brilliance.

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