Rooted in fertile ground and drawing on influences from across the land, a dad-and-lad ensemble bring their joy to the world.
Father-and-son units were part of creative landscape for centuries as a certain way to pass musicianship from generation to generation, a surefire method to preserve and augment tradition – and traditional values mean a lot to the 20-year-old Ariel Vei Atanasovski and his highly acclaimed sire Vasko. A pair of Slovenian performers who not only explore the scope of folklore but intrepidly venture beyond it, their inaugural joint effort offers a perfect mélange of Balkan dances and jazz of, again, trad variety. Here’s the blend which, even in theory, should result in a strange mixture of straightforward rhythm and unorthodox grooves and, in reality, will amount to much more, especially when wrapped in tunes that are both down-to-earth in a familiar, and familial, manner and yet adventurously unpredictable.
Whereas it’s tempting to attribute such a marriage of genres to the son’s progressive outlook, what’s actually happening on this album to live up to the platter’s very title can equally be traced back to the senior Atanasovski’s grasp of focus-shifting essentials. They anchor the flight of the young composer’s fantasy without restricting Ariel’s cello to chamber format on the elegiac, if arresting, likes of opener “Drevored” – that eases the listener into the record’s charms on the ripple of Marko Churnchetz’s piano – while seeing Vasko’s own flute and sax take off. The veteran’s instruments first soar in unison and then split for a separate set of sonic pirouettes, as demonstrated by a bossa nova-emanating passages of “Orehi” – delicately laced with his scion’s guitar and the gentle riff coming from the ivories. There’s an exquisite interplay in the jovial “Barve Sena” – supported with sympathy and gusto by Jošt Drašler’s contrabass and Marjan Stanić’s drums – as the band go off on a tangent and increase the pieces’ emotional range within the breathing space the artists carry on pushing too.
This is why, after “Balada Za Soncen Dan” has packed a heartwarming elegance into its tenderly timbered, vibrant lines, strings take their twangy weave to the fore and up the scale before reeds smooth the spikes of anxiety that seem to protrude from the strum, but the exuberance behind “Vrane Na Prepihu” keeps on gaining momentum to propel its melody to climactic finale. And though the percussive jive and lower registers of “U2” may suggest the ultimate freedom the duo display in locating fresh air in the prairies of country-and-western, the album’s titular number proposes a rambunctious grace to highlight the band’s ability to speed the drift and get away with anything they’re willing to conjure up. Here’s the genuine liberty.