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Andrew Cronshaw: The Unbroken Surface of Snow
Andrew Cronshaw: Ochre
Andrew Cronshaw: On the Shoulders of the Great Bear
Žegar Živi: Žegar Živi
Cloud Valley CV2014
SANS is the quartet of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw, the great Finnish singer Sanna Kurki-Suonio, multi-instrumental reeds player Ian Blake, and Tigran Aleksanyan, Armenian master of his country’s heart-rendingly voice-like reed pipe, the duduk.
zither, fujara, marovantele, kantele
Sanna Kurki-Suonio voice
Tigran Aleksanyan duduk
Ian Blake: bass clarinet, soprano sax
Formed by the musicians who made Cronshaw’s most recent CD, The Unbroken Surface of Snow, SANS is an instrumental and vocal combination not found in any other band in the world, in which the four members draw deeply on their different but remarkably compatible traditions including the ancient Karelian songs that became Finland’s Kalevala, the sweeping melodies of Armenia and English folk-song. They combine to make a genuinely new music of extraordinary beauty, intensity and fluidity in which each performance is a new creation. So the band’s debut CD SANS Live was recorded live, on its December 2013 Flanders tour.
See the SANS web pages web pages for more info, and the SANS Facebook page for news, performance dates, photos, videos etc.
1. Läksin minä kesäyönä käymään - I went out on a summer's night
2. Omenankukka - Apple flower
3. Peter Pan
4. Tuuli - Wind
5. Waiwanen walitan waikiast' - I weep for my sins
6. Äiti ja meri - The mother and the sea
7. Äiu, äiu
"Three years ago, the British composer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw released a haunting, atmospheric album The Unbroken Surface of Snow, which became a cult success in Europe. Now, he and the three other musicians involved in that project have become a band, SANS, which expands his experiment in fusing different folk influences in a quietly intense style that has the spontaneity of jazz. Each SANS performance is different, which is why this album was recorded live.
"Cronshaw plays a variety of zithers, along with the enormous fujara flute, and he's joined by Ian Blake on bass clarinet and saxophone and Tigran Aleksanyan, a master of the haunting Armenian reed pipe, the duduk, while vocals are provided by Finnish star Sanna Kurki-Suonio.
"The result is a subtle, at times gently unsettling album in which ancient laments from around the Baltic are fused with themes from England, Scotland and Armenia. Exquisite." - Robin Denselow, The Guardian
"Atmospheric stuff from this British/Finnish/Armenian combo, recorded live as they explore their musical boundaries and produce an entrancing and majestic weave of influences." - World Music Chart Europe
"A masterpiece of musical time/space travel; you can feel the gravitational deflection of cosmic light waves on the crevices of your mind. The instrumental combinations alone are otherworldly. Kurki-Suonio's voice floats above it all with majestic grace." - Waldemar Wallenius, Rootsworld
"As ‘hot on the heels’ as any Andrew Cronshaw project can ever hope to get – a measly three-year gap after The Unbroken Surface Of Snow – comes SANS Live, recorded on SANS’s Flanders tour in December 2013. The same musicians that convened to make that 2011 masterpiece are now trading under the name of SANS – a quartet comprising Tigran Aleksanyan, Ian Blake, Andrew Cronshaw and Sanna Kurki-Suonio. The sound palette is a mixture of winds and strings with duduk (Aleksanyan), bass clarinet and soprano saxophone (Blake) and electric zither, fujara, marovantele, kantele (Cronshaw). Sanna Kurki-Suonio is their remarkable singing asset.
Few musics are unclassifiable. Musicology’s surgeons can dissect sinew, thew and even naughty bits in the attempt to identify what made it tick. In the case of Live ethnomusicology’s finest might unpick Finnish, Karelian or Estonian song elements from Armenian melodies or English or Scottish traditional themes, but in so doing would be mistaking this music for a happy hunting ground for intellectual pursuits. Better the attuned listener going straight to locating the music’s heart. We are living in times when too much that masquerades as world music is just mishmash music. This is not.
This group’s primarily melody-driven approach drips integrity. Furthermore, pulse finesses rhythm. Take the Finnish Omenankukka (Apple Blossom)(as featured on this issue’s fRoots 49 compilation) with its melodic prelude, Southern England’s defining Searching For Lambs. Omenankukka exemplifies this ensemble’s strengths and its music’s rigour and vigour. Overall rhythm is implied – whether by the cadences of lyrics and their line lengths or, in part, notably on Peter Pan by Kurki-Suonio’s deftly employed fricative consonants.
Cloud Valley is a record company not measured by numerical output. Instead it measures itself by the year an album is released. We merely measure it by the sheer quality of its output. In several very good senses Live is a startling case of less is more. It really is music to make listeners think and challenge assumptions.
One of the champion albums thus far in 2014." – Ken Hunt, fRoots
"SANS inhabits its own, beautiful sonic space. Intelligently, lovingly, this international quartet marries ancient traditions, unusual instrumental and vocal sounds, original compositions and improvisation." - Doug Spencer, ABC Radio National, Australia
"Beautiful, spacious, haunting, visceral" - Rachel Nelken, Arts Council England
(SANS's 2014 UK touring and CD
were supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council
To buy a SANS Live CD direct from Cloud Valley click the appropriate button below.
You can also buy it, and other SANS and Andrew Cronshaw albums – physical or digital download – and listen to them too, at andrewcronshaw.bandcamp.com
(£11 including postage)
(£12 including postage)
For much more information about Andrew Cronshaw, including all of his albums and full discography as well as bio, photos, tour dates and audio, go to the Andrew Cronshaw section of this website (also accessible as AndrewCronshaw.com).