Theodor Bastard – Oikoumene

Recently I discovered this interesting Russian band that blends eastern ethnic music with a variety of other genres, such as trip-hop, into an enchanting and mystical whole. This band is called Theodore Bastard and the album I chose to initially traverse their sonic world was Oikoumene, which was released in 2012. Oikoumene is an exquisite hour-long piece of work that takes the listener on a spiritual journey crawling with eastern sounds with occasional interludes of subtle electronics and contemporary instrumentation. The opening track, Takaya Mija, embodies the essence of Oikoumene. It begins with the drone of sitar, tabla drums, and the mystifying female vocals of Yana Veva. A plethora of ethnic instrumentation accompanies the almost hip-hop beat that hypnotizes the listener. The only drawback to this track is the repetitive nature of both the music and especially the lyrics. However, the rest of the album redeems this otherwise minute flaw. Farias has more of a trip-hop feel, particularly with the vocals sounding much like Tricky of Massive Attack. Again expect droning sitar, mystical female vocals, and a building ominous atmosphere with occasional keyboards. The eastern instrumentation and Yana Veva’s vocals provide the foundation of Oikoumene’s sound, while tracks, such as Gerda, with its use of electric guitar in the second half, blend with contemporary sounds. Intifadah also has a strong trip-hop beat that is accompanied by slow eastern guitars and other instrumentation. There is even some subtle use of a didgeridoo-like instrument in the stellar title track, as again prominently consists of eastern instrumentation. Tapachula begins slowly and ever so mystically with its strong atmosphere and later subtle use of electronics. The penultimate track, or what I would actually consider the true closer, Anubis, is an epic and majestic piece that has more strong vocals from Yana Veva accompanied by the clanging of gongs. The last song on the album is an odd alternative version of Benga. Oikoumene is a stellar introduction to the sound of Theodore Bastard—a band I will surely examine further in the future. Theodore Bastard, with Oikoumene, does a great job at crafting an eclectic blend of world music without making it feel superficial or shallow. The music and vocals evoke plenty of emotions and does an excellent job of taking the listener to another world sonically. This is an album recommended for those seeking some ethnic flavor in their music.

Genre: World, Trip Hop, Experimental
Country: Russia
Label: Theo Records
Release: February 22, 2012

1. Takaya Mija
2. Farias
3. Gerda
4. Benga
5. Sagrabat (Diumgo) feat. Julien Jacob
6. Oikoumene
7. Tapachula
8. Intifadah
9. Clean Kron
10. Sol De Morte
11 Anubis
12. Benga (Fun-Da-Mental version)

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