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Album Review

That Leo Fegin chose Sa Zna for the first release in his Leo Labs project is significant. It placed his cards on the table that he was interested in recording other music from Russia besides Russian avant jazz. This group is a case in point in that they don't know how to play any instrument in a traditional manner. Most of the items they use to play music on aren't musical instruments at all, with the exception of a broken piano or two and the human voice. The rest are radios, some kind of mutant horn, percussion on found objects, etc. Their "compositions" are research projects based as much on the space they record them in as on the group idea of making "music." All things play a part. Therefore, it is impossible to write — at least for this journalist — about individual compositions, because there aren't any. What can be said is that this is the purest example of music as language, an attempt to communicate emotion and ideas without speaking in a known tongue from one person to a group of others; in this case there are six individuals who play in groups of anywhere from three to the full sextet. The liner notes, written communally, explain that the group's name was taken from a religious poster on a Soviet subway that had been ripped, and the only letters remaining from the message about "getting saved" were "SA...ZNA." This document is made by a group of friends who take themselves seriously enough to try to make music, but not seriously enough to know that they are "great artists." They're having fun with their sonic experiments and attempting to communicate some of it. That's the weird part: Most of this noise is dark, spatial, atmospheric, and foreboding. There are no flurries of sounds or notes to hold onto; everything is in pure drift. It's a compelling listen, but not one I would undertake alone in the dark.

Eurasia, Sa Zna
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