Release Date: Apr 29, 2014
Record label: One Little Indian
Genre(s): Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, International, Russian Traditions
???? (Krai) is Olga Bell's fond tribute to backwaters, to half-forgotten towns. In Russian, the album title means "edge" or "limit", referring to the areas away from cities and cultural centers where you can walk into a kitchen and find your grandparents' culture still very much alive. Bell's album, written entirely in Russian, evokes crowded rooms where the air is thick with unfamiliar food smells, where heated conversations you can't quite follow take place in a language you no longer quite remember.
Russian-born, Brooklyn-based songwriter/producer Olga Bell moved to New York in her early twenties to pursue her electronic pop compositions. Over the course of several years, Bell grew deeply immersed in New York's rich indie scene, eventually working with bigger name acts like Chairlift and Dirty Projectors in addition to cultivating her own stunningly composed solo work. While earlier EPs and tracks from Bell found her dallying in fields of lighthearted and bubbly laptop rhythms and a heavy Björk influence on her winding and whimsical vocals, full-length album Krai takes an entirely different approach.
Olga Bell is a classically trained Russian-Alaskan-Brooklynite multi-hyphenate who has worked with Dirty Projectors and Tom Vek, and Krai is her exploration of the hinterlands. The word "krai" not only echoes the frontiers of her Russian homeland, but evokes the creative wilderness she finds herself in in 2014. In this sense, it may remind listeners of Kate Bush's audacious The Dreaming, and in a year when Kate-mania has returned, the association can only help Bell's cause.
Perhaps best known for her pursuits with Dirty Projectors, Russian-American composer and producer Olga Bell returns with her new album Krai, a somewhat left-field, multi-faceted homage to the lesser-known corners of her home country. A little context is needed when faced with an album such as Krai, where there is a level of concept involved. In Olga Bell’s mother tongue “Krai” means “edge”, “limit” or “hinterland”; today it is used in a political sense to mark territories, but for earlier Russians it marked “both the promise and terror of the vast unknown”.