გამარჯობათ! კარგად ხარ? მეც კარგად. დრო მიიღოს მცირე შევხედოთ ქართული მუსიკის სცენა!
“My, what are those strange chicken scratches? Have I suffered a stroke and can’t read, or have I entered the wrong URL?” Don’t you worry your uneducated mind, what you see above you is the very unique and beautiful language and alphabet of the საქართველოს, or the Georgian people! Georgia, the country not the state, is located in the Caucasian mountain range, between the Black Sea and the Dead Sea, and it shares borders with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, and Russia. The country has a very unique and vibrant culture which has been a melting pot of both western and eastern culture, but still they have their very own special flair. A land who is very proud of it’s own culture, be it literature, music, or dancing, it’s a shame we don’t take time and notice it. That is why I will dedicate these next reviews of mine to some of the Georgian music that has stuck with me and made me fall in love with the wonderful Georgian language!
Oh boy… I’d like to call myself a seasoned internet music sleuth, be it obscure lo-fi black metal, a lone power electronics musician, or just bizarre sounds from a disturbed mind, there was nothing I couldn’t find. But trying to find ANY information or even the existence of Georgian music groups, contemporary or not, has been my greatest challenge yet. Not merely the fact of the language barrier, but Georgia was occupied by the USSR until 1990, and they don’t seem to have adopted the internet as much as we have yet, and I do not know anyone personally from/living i Georgia whom I could have used as a informant. But non the less, I managed to find some resources and found some really interesting stuff among all the soviet-pop and jazz! And were gonna start it off with some contemporary indie-folk!
სტუმარი (Stumari) is a Georgian indie folk music group, established in 2002 and they released their first album, ბეწვის ხიდი(Tightrope Bridge) in 2004. They are heavily based on traditional Georgian folk melodies and themes, together with their own spin on them with influences like modern progressive sound and classical European instrumentation.
For being their first album, Tightrope Bridge is quite the intensive ride. The whole album has dark and mystical feel, with some truly exhilarating and fantastical moments. Sadly, I can’t really delve into the lyrical themes and composition, since I haven’t been able to learn enough Georgian by this point(but one day I’ll be at least somewhat skilled in it!), however, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it! The music itself doesn’t need a translator and the natural melody and rhythm of the language is just magnificent! If you only are going to listen to one song, make sure it is ღვთის ბრძანებით(By God’s Command), one of my favorite tracks by them! The fast paced rhythm, the distant ethereal bells, the magnificent singing and chorus is just divine!
The album starts out with the song დასალოცი(The Blessing Toast) which is calm with a repetitive chant, which many of their songs have, like ჩიორა(Birdie), and when the chant (chorus?) stops and she starts whispering and reciting on Georgian, the atmosphere changes to being very intense and intimate moment. Birdie on the other hand is a very light and happy song about birds, I assume, at least it sounds like it. Which then jumps straight into the frenetic energy of By God’s Command! Which is more intense and attention grabbing that any neo-folk band would ever hope to martial out!
ხასანბეგურა(Hasan-Beg’s Song) comes next with a moment of respite, before gaining momentum again with drumming reminiscent of God’s Command. The melodies and singing here is more straight forward than with the more mystical feeling of BGC. Hassan-Beg’s Song is a bit more punchy and more formulaic, and ends with a little Arabic flair to it! Very nice!
Then we get a taste of a traditional dance song with ხორუმი(Dance), proceeded by the very cute and pleasant song ზღარბუნები(Little Hedgehogs). And for a song named ნანა(Lullaby), it sure has a very moody and dark atmosphere! შუქურვარსკვლავი(The Guiding Star) however is one of the weaker songs to my opinion. It’s a bit too “pretty” and high wailing for my taste. The title track ბეწვის ხიდი(Tightrope Bridge) is a bit better, it has a bit more going for it and more dynamic. Closing of the album is ოდოია(Odoia), a happy and fun song with a nice and good feeling to it.
So yeah, Tightrope Bridge is a very interesting and fun journey into the Georgian music scene and a good start if you curious to hear the very unique and interesting Georgian folk music! Stumari’s other album დილა(Morning) is a bit different and also very good to check out! Both of their albums are available to listen too on the excellent YouTube channel RamShemqmnaAdamianad(one of my excellent resources of Georgian music!), and sadly I have no idea where to buy their album, so if anybody knows, don’t hesitate to share your knowledge! Next time let’s have a look at their offering to the progressive, psychedelic rock scene of 1975, with ივერია!