Thursday 14 May 2020

'Siberia Extreme' by Chyskyyrai with Tim Hodgkinson & Ken Hyder

Under the guise of Chyskyyrai, Valentina Romanova unveils her debut recording 'Siberia Extreme' striving to take shamanic-inspired jazz in thrilling new directions.

As the first project under the newly-formed Indigenous Lifeforms record label, the label itself seeks to act as a hub for a "cross-cultural collaboration" between Siberian artists and artists from across the world and 'Siberia Extreme' is exemplary of the label's intentions as the otherworldly talents of Romanova are paired with the UK's experimental and revered wizardry of Tim Hodgkinson and Ken Hyder.

There are so many incredible aspects of this project to that contribute to its intrigue - from the collaborators involved to the shamanic concepts explored within the music.  Focusing on Romanova, firstly... her Chyskyyrai moniker is the result of a life that has been very much immersed within performance.  From writing poetry and performing plays for her friends and family from a young age in Myndagay, Churapchinsky District of Siberia, she later studied performance in the Platonov Folkloric Workshop and work with the Sakha National Theatre soon followed.  While 'Chyskyyrai' is, as stated, the result of a passion for art and performance, the moniker is just as much a celebration of Romanova's culture and heritage - a way to bridge the gap between the Sakha mythology and folk tales that have provided a strong sense of inspiration throughout her life as well as being demonstrative of who Romanova is now.

And helping to bring Romanova's 'Siberia Extreme' to life is the work of project collaborators Tim Hodgkinson and Ken Hyder.  With the album having been recorded in Hyder's basement early 2005, his work with Hodginson has spanned decades resulting in an extensive catalogue of music recorded together and separately.  Hyder, regarded as a Scottish jazz fusion drummer and percussionist, is well-known for his compositions that celebrate folk, Celtic music and jazz.  Spirituality became synonymous within his music eventually seeking inspiration from eastern influences as well as Siberian shamans.  And the work of multi-instrumentalist Hodgkinson has taken a similar evolution - from work with the avant-rock group Henry Cow, his varied styles and inspiration saw him adapt improvisational styles before, again, leaning towards the study of shamanic culture.

The allure of shamanistic or spiritual elements within jazz has long been prominent - music as a vehicle to interact within a spirit or cosmic world was adopted by luminaries like Alice Coltrane who employed themes of Indian classical music in her quest for a universal form of music while Sun-Ra delved into Egyptology for their investigations.  Through 'Siberia Extreme', Chyskyyrai along with Hodgkinson and Hyder seek their own conclusions and hopefully, through the Indigenous Lifeforms label, it's a question others will continue to seek as well.

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