Exposé Online banner

Barbez — Insignificance
(Important Records imprec063, 2005, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01

Insignificance Cover artI don’t know if it’s a trend or not, but I’m all for it. Barbez is an American independent band taking its inspiration from traditional music all around the world (special focus on Russia and the Middle East) and its energetic esthetic from art-punk. Forceful female vocals from Ksenia Vidyaykina find colorful backing from a bass/drums/guitar trio augmented by full-time mallet and theremin players, providing a wide variety of sound that always keeps you guessing and never come off as mere novelty. Two traditional Russian tunes and a few choice covers augment a slate of original compositions by guitarist Dan Kaufman, who does not himself dominate the arrangements. Drummer Shahzad Ismaily deserves a lot of credit for driving the music — his playing is very diverse, with catchy patterns on toms as common as kick-snare beats. Pamela Kurstin also merits special mention on theremin; she often performs a kind of counterpoint role that might normally be filled by a violin, and in fact her playing is so smooth and non-gimmicky that you might mistake it for a violin. A few years ago I fell in love with Charming Hostess (and I know I’m not alone in that) — Barbez provides the same kind of thrill, substituting instrumental range for the extra singers. I’m enthusiastically adding Insignificance to my Year’s Best list, and citing its title for extreme irony.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 33, 2005 releases

Related artist(s): Barbez

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Mark Ceccotti - Still at Large – Most will be familiar with Ceccotti as the guitarist and chief composer of Edhels, a band that released a number of LPs and CDs from the mid-1980s right up through 1999. Since that time he has...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues