The earliest known Georgian recordings are of folk songs. Most of the ensembles put to vinyl in Soviet period were folk ensembles. When you look at pre-Soviet recordings, as a rule they feature wild charisma combined with improvising spirit and non-standard variations, yet retaining the high skill sufficient to pull the demanding task of a Georgian folk song off.
Soviet-time recordings are refined to the full – these perfected presentations ensured that Georgian folk could be presentable throughout the world to an instant success, but mostly, to a local citizen, to the ones who have heard all these songs in their natural settings, a certain magic was missing. After the fall of that empire, major Soviet-time folk choirs continued functioning, but it was clear that most of them were rehashing the much-trodden material with diminishing returns.
So that is why ensembles like Adilei matter very much. They can refer to both aforementioned types of recordings, but yet be directly untied to any of them. They can learn, but they don’t have to directly copy. Plus, because they mostly are and perform songs from Guria, a region that has one of the most complex types of Georgian folk song, they have had more natural access to rural originals, just like it used to be in olden times.
Even to a person who hasn’t deeply specialized in the Georgian folklore, Adilei sounds fresh, energetic and different. They perform concerts in prisons and small bars alongside big halls, they sing their hearts out, but foremost, they serve the noble task of carrying the torch of Gurian (mostly, but not exclusively) folk song.
So what you’ll find here is the trademark Gurian yodeling, relentless improvising and complex harmonies (the quality’s that made American researchers liken it to free jazz decades ago) and plenty of fun, sun and beauty. Enjoy.
♪♫ Listen: “Khasanbegura” + album stream
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