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Artist: HALA STRANA
Title: s/t
Format: LP
Label: Desastre
Country: Switzerland
Price: $29.00
"Desastre present the first vinyl issue of Hala Stranas debut self-titled album, originally released in 2003. Hala Strana is a summation of Steven R. Smiths interest in the traditional folk musics of central and eastern Europe. By incorporating the melodies, scales, and instrumentation of the village music from areas such as Croatia, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Poland, Steven has pushed his music into yet another new territory. This is not ethnological preservation, but a starting point. In the same manner from which the band transformed the sounds of early Americana into their own brand of timeless music, Hala Strana has abstracted these melodies and turned them into something uniquely their own. Like his previous solo work, Hala Stranas richly layered sounds are carefully placed but have a spontaneous feel. Instruments like gourd guitar, clay flowerpots, harmonium, accordion, glockenspiel, violin, and even bottles find their way into the mix. Performed on an array of atypical instruments, the songs, all instrumentals, have a magnificent sweep and grandeur but also a Baroque sense of storytelling and commanding, sometimes mournful, introspection, a tension that persistently creates a mood of captivating dislocation. Hala Strana consistently locates the source of their esoteric power, the part that suggests specific cultural heritages. The brilliance of the album lies in where those evocations lead, to what ends they are taken -- luxurious, complicated cities of the imagination, landscapes at once tangible and unknowable. This marks the first vinyl reissue of Hala Strana. All elements from the original CD artwork have been used for the vinyl edition. The cover art is a detail from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) but the Hala Strana writing have been hand-made by Mathieu Tilly (Druidhigh Visuals), who is also Frances drummer and the co-owner of the Standard In-Fi label. Tilly provided the new LP layout and insert (and the logo of Desastre label)." - Desastre.

Artist: HALA STRANA
Title: These Villages
Format: CD
Label: Soft Abuse
Country: USA
Price: $12.00
"Three albums in, Steven R. Smiths new Hala Strana project has delivered its first masterpiece. Following his first two full-lengths from last year (Hala Strana on Emperor Jones and Fielding on Jewelled Antler) comes These Villages, a further culmination of Smiths interest in Eastern European folk music. Smiths original compositions are peppered with interpretations of traditional songs, presenting the collision of his musical interests throughout his rather prolific career over the past decade. Built upon layers of sustained drone & delicately plucked and bowed strings, These Villages creates a seemless, almost raga-like environment, with quiet-loud dynamics aplenty. Its a dark record, a definite work of beauty, and a perfect soundtrack for autumns changing leaves and howling winds." - Soft Abuse.

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