Barbez - Insignificance - CD
Insignificance is the result of two years of intensive work and the culmination of seven years of exploration and growth by this unusual and powerful Brooklyn-based band. After the critical success of Barbez's self titled full length debut on Important Records, they've returned with a groundbreaking sophomore album and a new theremin player who Bob Moog has called the single "greatest living" theremin player on Earth. While Insignificance maintains Barbez's trademark ethno-punk-cabaret, the compositions have become more tight, more spacious, more frenetic and more explosive. Insignificance has more of a compositional complexity and careful instrumentation than Barbez's debut, promising to be a classic in this burgeoning sub-genre known as Punk-Cabaret.
2004 was a big year for the Punk-Cabaret with groups like The Dresden Dolls, Barbez and Gogol Bordello garnering an increasing amount of deserved mainstream attention. While bands like The Dresden Dolls draw more from a well of theatrical punk, Barbez travels deep into the heart of Europe. Drawing their unusual instrumentation into a haunting, original sound. Barbez evokes everything from The Swans and PJ Harvey, to Lotte Lenya and Eastern European folk music. While Barbez is not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, covering Erik Satie and Alfred Schnittke on Insignificance, they maintain their own brilliant sound, moving effortlessly between frenetic and explosive rock to haunting Slavic tinged melancholy.
Insignificance was recorded, mixed and co-produced by legendary New York engineer/producer Martin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth, Dresden Dolls, John Zorn) at BC studios near the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn.
Barbez began almost seven years ago, with members whose backgrounds were in dance, rock, jazz, electronic and avant-garde classical. When Barbez isn't touring, scoring plays and films, individual members of the group are in-demand instrumentalists. The artists involved in Barbez are some of the finest and most unique music makers in New York and they include:
Pamelia Kurstin, a master theremin player whose credits include David Byrne, Cibo Matto, Air and many others. Bob Moog, the electronics pioneer and long-time theremin maker has called her "one of the world's greatest living thereminists."
Ksenia Vidyaykina, a St. Petersburg, Russia native fireball, whose training includes extensive work and performing in Russian theater and experimental dance.
Dan Kaufman, is the group's primary composer and guitar player. He also plays with Rebecca Moore.
Danny Tunick an exceptional percussionist who's as familiar and comfortable playing complicated twentieth century works by Pierre Boulez as he is playing rock, and who's credits include Bang on a Can and Guv'ner.
Dan Coates, a bass player, who's also developed electronics equipment for Electro-Harmonix and Eventide here plays a custom built, specially modified palm pilot upon which he can play a vast array of electronic sounds.
Shahzad Ismaily, an impossibly gifted multi-instrumentalist who's played with Brian Eno, Marc Ribot, Secret Chiefs 3, among countless others.
John Bollinger one of NYC's most versatile and sought after drummers loaded with both power and finesse.
Frequent collaborations with other musicians, both live and in the studio, have included Eszter Balint, Nils Frykdahl (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), Anthony Nozero (Drums And Tuba), and The Lonesome Organist. Barbez recently wrote and performed music for Chang In a Void Moon, by legendary avant-garde director and MacArthur genius grant winner, John Jesurun. They will be touring constantly to support this release. Barbez is also a constant, vibrant part of the New York music scene, and has shared the stage with such performers as Cat Power, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Angels Of Light, and Devendra Banhart.
Barbez was profiled on NPR's nationally syndicated "The Next Big Thing." The story aired twice. Barbez are a mainstay in the ethno-punk-cabaret scene collaborating and touring with bands like Gogol Bordello, The Dresden Dolls and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The record features the virtuosic theremin player, Pamelia Kurstin, who's done sessions and played with many great artists including David Byrne, Air, John Zorn, Cibo Matto, among many others. This record features a guest appearance on a Brecht/Eisler cover by Thrill Jockey recording artist, The Lonesome Organist. Past collaborations have included chanteuse Eszter Balint, Tony Nozero (Drums and Tuba) and Nils Frykdahl (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum). Both Pamelia Kurstin and Dan Kaufman are working on solo records for John Zorn's Tzadik label.
1. As For the Little Gray Rabbit
3. Fear of Commitment
4. Song of the Moldau
5. A Melancholy Picnic
7. The Sea Spread Wide
9. The Portrait
10. Like Snowflakes, Some Sort of Red
11. Gnossienne #3
"Barbez is one of my favorite bands. For me, their musicianship, creativity, and intelligent presentation just make me feel good to listen to them, both live and on CD." ~ Bob Moog
“Barbez includes a brilliant theremin player who smokes cigarettes and a full-throated Russian singer who comes across like Joan of Arc with a sense of humor. They cover everything from Bertolt Brecht to Black Sabbath, but the real attractions is their melodically haunting originals. With a folk-music sound located somewhere between turn-of-century Eastern Europe and modern America, it’s arty rock that moves between brooding and winking.”~ The New Yorker
"The old world meets art rock in this Brooklyn band, which melds instruments from Marimba and vibes to theremin and Palm Pilot for it's post-cabaret stew." ~ Time Out New York
"A tight post-punk outfit with vague ethnic insinuations to their riffage and a suitable frontwoman named Ksenia." ~ The Village Voice
"A Brooklyn based collective that considers cafe decadence from a European point of view. Barbez takes the violin and accordion of tango and the sultry vocals of cabaret to skewed extremes; it's repertory includes the music of Kurt Veill and The Residents." ~ The New Yorker
"Compelling as she can be, Vidyaykina rarely overshadows the rest of the sextet. Despite their Balkan-Folk leanings, these players aren't authenticity junkies. They use rock-band dynamics to give their music heft while fleshing it out with all manner of instrumental antics." ~ Time Out New York
"Tango and Palm Pilots. Theremin and Kurt Weill. Marimba and Russian Folk music. If anyone know's the meaning of cultural detritus it's Barbez: New York's chamber punk sextet." ~ The Portland Mercury
"Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the composers Erik Satie and Kurt Weill were still alive, and decided to form a rock band?" ~ Indianapolis Nuvo
"Uses traditional Eastern European and klezmer influences as easily as it does more traditional rock band instrumentation." ~ The Onion
"Seeing Barbez live is a little like seeing the Elephant Man - something disfigured but beautiful." ~ The Brooklyn Rail
"The worlds greatest living theremin player." ~ Bob Moog, in regards to Barbez's young theremin virtuoso
"A deviant strain of Europhile romanticism seems to have taken root in the artistic underbrush of the US where a few musicians yearn for a lost epoch of Dada Cabaret, sleazy Parisian touts, accordion dirges wafting from the Gypsy camp at the edge of the city, drop dead gorgeous Polish exiles with a weakness for opium and a taste for danger. Brooklyn's Barbez ventures down this musical back alley." ~ Willamette Week
"Anybody can piddle around with themes of romance and sex, but these New Yorkers are past all that - in fact there aren't any other humans at all on their beautiful and desolate planet. Each melancholy melody or obsessive ostinato seems to belong to its own dimension, and the group's third album, Insignificance (Important), sounds like it just happened to capture the whole lineup -which includes Pamelia Kurstin on theremin, Dan Coates on modified Palm Pilot, and Danny Tunick on vibes and marimba - at the one point in all of space and time where they intersected perfectly. Tunick tucks his whimsical, hallucinatory lines into Ksenia Vidyaykina's velvety Slavic voice and Kurstin's lost-at-sea theremin, and pointy-toothed guitar nibbles at everyone's legs. Occasionally they'll all burst into an inappropriately ecstatic pop melody, which feels really uncomfortable, like when daddy took you out for ice cream after you saw him hit mommy. It's a sound track for getting lost in a cold mossy forest after dark, daring yourself to open the flap of the bearded lady's tent, or quietly bleeding to death in the bathtub." ~ Chicago Reader