Vedan Kolod: Wild Games

August 25, 2020

In the Balance

Listening Post 267. Siberia is renowned for vast panoramas and extreme temperatures but it is also rich in sound. Over the past 15 years the folk trio Vedan Kolod has been introducing world audiences to the region’s acoustic qualities, from whistling forest winds to echoes of time to their own spellbinding blend of voices and traditional instruments. A family band from Krasnoyarsk, roughly the halfway point on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Vedan Kolod has a repertoire—old songs and new compositions—that reaches deep into their region’s Russian and Indigenous cultures and shamanistic heritage based on the relationship between humanity and environment. Wild Games, the group’s eighth album, is a journey framed by a series of children’s counting rhymes that serve as bridges between enchanting tales of myth and reality, tempest and dance, isolation and love. The collection’s defining story is Fox (Лиса), in which an unlikely visitor from the forest makes a social call and becomes a symbol of freedom (video 1). Snowstorm (Метель) offers a nuanced view of nature’s breath as a force not only for destroying but also recreating the landscape (video 2). Joy reigns in Serbiyanochka (Сербияночка) a traditional circle dance with an accelerating pace (video 3), while Thoughts (Мысли) is a brooding meditation on separation (video 4). The album’s unexpected irony is that while it celebrates adaptation to challenges of the past it was created in a forbidding present: It was recorded in the summer of 2019 as unprecedented wildfires, likely exacerbated by climate change, scorched an area the size of Greece just north and east of Krasnoyarsk, affecting air quality in the city, disrupting air traffic over a wide expanse and spewing clouds of smoke that reached North America. One added lesson of Wild Games may be that the connection between humanity and nature works better as a balance than as one of dominance. (CPL Music)

Vedan Kolod: Wild Games / Вeданъ Колодъ: Дикие игры
Tatiana Naryshkina: Vocals, mandolin, drums, flute
Valery Naryshkin: Vocals, war horn, bouzouki, vargan, dudka, kabagaida (Russian bagpipe), double zhaleika, svirel, double flute, drums, ocarina, gudok, sharkunets
Daryana Antipova: Vocals, drums

In Old Russian, Vedan Kolod means “Prophetic Tree”


Fox / Лиса
Lyrics & music: Valery Naryshkin

(From the Russian lyrics)
Red tail, sly glance, wet nose, light step/
You, fox, ran like a shadow on a clear day
Sneaked over the fence, scratched at my door/And interrupted my lunch

You came in and looked at me without a breath/Your eyes like turquoise blurred with tears
As if a knife had pierced my heart/I saw that under the red fur
It was not simply a wild creature before me

I understood that you had not always been like this/You left once on a clear night and became a fox forever
But you came back for me/Calling me to join you in freedom in the forest
And become a fox, too


Snowstorm / Метель
Lyrics & music: Valery and Tatiana Naryshkina

I am the wind, blowing and building
I will destroy and create anew
You snowflakes twirl — obedient children
You will do my bidding


Serbiyanochka / Сербияночка
Lyrics & music: Traditional

You need to know how to dance the Serbiyanochka
First there are taps, taps, taps and then the whirling
My mother taught me how to dance the Serbiyanochka
I broke my new shoes at three o’clock in the afternoon
They are dancing the Serbiyanochka and singing the Serbiyanochka
That poor Serbiyanochka never gets any rest


Thoughts / Мысли
Lyrics: Traditional/Music: Valery and Tatiana Naryshkina

Ah, my thoughts, my sad thoughts!
Tell me, my thoughts, about my sorrow:
How can I, a young boy, live with such misfortune?
My sad heart forever pines
It yearns, it grieves for its former freedom
If I had wings — with golden feather —
I would fly high, would fly far away, to my beloved
I would sit in the window and coo, and please my lady




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