Album Review : Herandu – ‘Ocher Red’ : a dazzling jazz-fusion journey from the brothers Gavrilov.

The Breakdown

‘Ocher Red’ is classy, high on momentum and urgency, a swathe of instrumental cuts with a clear beat driven foundation, IDM at the jazz end of the continuum but not stuck there… Herandu music.
Hive Mind Records 8.9

If there was a section in the record store for ’Music by Brothers’ just imagine how expansive that would be. Stretching from the Everlys to the Johnsons, Louvins to the JAMC boys and beyond, the genre could probably consume all others. But there is something else about brotherly music-making, whether driven by love or hate, rivalry or harmony, it comes with a distinctive creative energy.

Now adding their own angle to this discussion are the Gavrilov brothers from Siberia, Evgeny and Mikhail, who have been composing and playing together since their formative years, most notably as co-leaders of the illusive dream pop shoegazers FPRF. When this band folded around 2015, the pair took separate musical paths, Evgeny delving into the ambient as Dyad and Mikhail as Misha Sultan. It’s this name which might sound familiar as the artist behind the exquisite organic electronica album ‘Roots’, released on the venerable Hive Mind Records a couple of years ago. Neatly Hive Mind now also play a significant part as the Gavrilov brothers’ story comes full circle.

They are back together again as a duo under the name Herandu with a debut album ‘Ocher Red’ on the shelves with support from the Brighton based label. Again, like ‘Roots’, a broad strand is electronic but infused with the brothers’ own cultural context, idiosyncratic chemistry and their own eclectic influences. So yes a fusion album, absorbing their decade plus of music making but without any forced combinations of style just because they can. ‘Ocher Red’ is classy, high on momentum and urgency, a swathe of instrumental cuts with a clear beat driven foundation, IDM at the jazz end of the continuum but not stuck there… Herandu music.

The opening track Ocher Red rightly provides the album with a title as it lays out the duo’s sonic manifesto. Don’t let the zinging marimba toned opening fool you, those echoing chords anchor a fully committed drum and bass sprint which hurtles through some 21st century city soundscape. Hip-hop vocal snips and agile bassline add another dimension while Steely Dan toned guitar hooks some warm familiarity. It’s a busy, bustling introduction that sweeps you up and into the Gavrilov brothers’ kaleidoscopic viewpoint.

Herandu extend that frenetic Metalheadz energy in other directions as ‘Ocher Red’ careers along. The epic Regrets builds from Mikhail’s minimal piano riff to a skanking ethio-jazz shuffle via cosmic flutes, chunky balaphon sounds and then onto a blistering garage burst. The tune’s slow dawning, electronica come down emerges so naturally that you almost don’t realise it’s happened. Perhaps more experimental though no less impressive is the multi-faceted Flea Market Finds. There’s a shadowy drift to the mid-tempo skitter, an orchestral Goldie-esque feel shot with clanking industrial bumps which hunkers into electro dub à la Nightmares On Wax. Running out to a funky hip hop scat, retro organ fills included, we have a crate-diggers’ mash up in a swift four minute summary.

As ‘Ocher Red’ unwinds, the clear sense of place which underpins the album becomes stronger. Recorded during a period when the Gavrilov brothers returned to their home city Novosibirsk, the music is distinctly urban, reflecting skylines, grandeur and inevitable sprawl (all captured in the release’s evocative cover by artist Mauro Reggio). However ‘Ocher Red’ also seems pinned to more personal memories and events. Bicycle Ride floats around all summery and idyllic, a vibrant melodic whizz through the streets conjured up by the hugging calm of flute, xaphoon and guest player Vladimir Luchansky’s sax. The story-telling continues with the mini-drama of An Incident in the Theater, where the tom toms bring an orchestral scale to the smooth soundtrack vibe. Then on the sombre snapshot of Downtown Street, Luchansky’s mournful sax paints a picture of crumbling elegance with similar panache.

Capturing these cinematic episodes so sharply maybe references Barry Adamson’s imaginary soundtracks or ‘Black Market’ era Weather Report? Herandu’s music certainly aims for the filmic and frequently nails a scene with an eye for detail and graphic sense of atmosphere. Join them on their Bizarre Morning where the curling eastern sax conversations flirt lightly over a purposeful jazz funk stride and Zawinul synth shading. There’s even some raunchy lead guitar work barging in, adding Herandu’s own quirky personality. Or try the epic Taxi Trip as it winds deeper into the Fourth World region with a ticking gnawa pulse, propulsive Wobble bass lines and swirling Egyptian strings. At the start of the track a voice announces mystically “A song with no name” but this music is in no way anonymous.

Such Pan-Asian influences seem key to ‘Ocher Red’. The Gavrilov brothers’ Siberian home is after all 3000 km from Moscow, bordering close to both Afghanistan and Mongolia. It’s a seam that runs through Herandu’s intriguing sound, giving their giddy jazz fusion an authentic twist. Add to this the chemistry and intuition that their sibling relationship brings and you have an album brimming with dynamism and daring. The poignantly named closing track Amongst Ourselves reflects this as the ideas tumble out for an urgent final blow out. Let’s hope that this dazzling release doesn’t mark a brief return for Mikhail and Evgeny as a duo. In the shape of Herandu they’ve clearly got plenty more to say and places to go.

Get your copy of ‘Ocher Red‘ by Herandu now from your local record store or direct from Hive Mind Records HERE

Previous Track: Ezra Collective Strike Gold Again with joyous new single, “Ajala”
This is the most recent story.

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.