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

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Roach - Live at Grace Cathedral – This two disc set documents one of Roach’s rare live performances, this one at San Francisco's historic Grace Cathedral on June 29, 2007. The natural reverb of the performance space meshes well with...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues