The Cats' Orchestra

Easter Yeast

Another strange release from a distant corner of the world, Moscow's The Cats' Orchestra (project of Nicholay Syrov), plays like a weird multi-sided trinket picked up in the airport of a foreign country for no apparent reason. A souvenir sitting idly by on my dresser looking interesting and collecting dust and puzzling the hell out of me. It's a creaky, clunky, ramschackle sound that is folk-related, weird enough to stand as an outlier to the run-of-the-mill pop spectrum, but not something I'd quite be willing to throw in with the "freak" category. Whatever you want to call it, what this is is quite cool.

What I really like about this project is the placement of that apostrophe in the name—to the latter said of the "s" so as to hint that Syrov envisions several cats performing together here rather than it just being the product of one single cat, i.e. Syrov himself. (Also, I just really like *most* cats, in general). Though a solo project, Easter Yeast still very much feels like the product of an ensemble, and instruments (tons of 'em—from plucked and strummed guitars and ukeleles, to banged and bashed percussion and toys, to plunked keys and tooted horns and likely a lot more) play "together" on this thing in concerted fashion. Largely, however, everything feels like it's performed on something of its own wavelength—these cats play by their own rules. Various parts and pieces playfully contribute at slightly different tempos or tonalities, the sum totals of which never fail to build themselves into smart, happy little boxes (be them somewhat caddywhompus or cockamamee), like birthday presents wrapped up in colorful comic strips by a toddler or something—seams all eschew, scotch tape bunched up on one side and ribbons everywhere.

There's also a healthy portion of echo, static and noise to give some of the pieces an extra bite, throwing a slightly demonic veil over an otherwise fairly joyous and upbeat set material, though the tape does have its share of sad, sultry tunes as well. Which brings us to another charming aspect here: variety. The album offers a multitude of moods for which to contemplate and ultimately enjoy—there are the more sing-songy types of numbers alongside downtrodden ballads while other works act as snippets of sound art (see the title track itself) with wavering washes of droning melodic loops. There are bluesy guitar refrains tickled and tortured by ratchets and clanking pots and pans like the instrumental "Blue Zero," and other tracks that let guitars and ghostly, reverb-soaked vocals do all the talking (er... singing) in streaks of beautiful, honest aplomb. "Cufflinks" is a highlight for its skilled acoustic guitar work that is both quite gorgeous and technically impressive—sometimes the rickety fits of the more orchestrated works on the album serve to mask what sounds like a guy with some tightly honed chops hidden beneath.

Overall this a cute, fuzzy, fun, fascinating, sophisticated, and also quite repeatable tape... which I sorely wish I had a physical copy of. Mayhaps I shall visit one of the links below to secure myself a copy of this fabulous recording. Syrov also sent over an earlier work, Coffee Killer, which is a lot of fun as well... All this is to say that I'd recommend giving anything this guy has to offer a whirl.

Crawf

~taqueOt Official Website

The Cats' Orchestra Official Website

Video for "Ablutionary Ritual" by the one-and-only Moduli TV ::

Audio stream of "Cufflinks" ::

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November 3rd, 2011