This is Alina's second album. In the absence of any promotional blurb from Lithuania, we learn instead via Moscow that Orlova committed these songs to tape with nothing more than a couple of additional musicians. As a result, the "aestheticized cabaret" style of earlier recordings, full of accordions and other mobile tools, has become markedly simpler. This week's CD in its stripped-down format "was very carefully constructed. Each and every note has been hung in the air; each note is in its correct place." Looking for phrases to encapsulate that same, delicate magic, our Moscow-based author suggests that the songs even have a "visionary, divinely gothic" structure. Or, on other occasions, they become a kind of "cafe/chamber pop." Most of these fragile offerings are performed in Orlova's native Lithuanian, with an occasional detour into Russian or English.
Who doesn’t love a quirky girl with a piano? The past 30 years of rock music have given us Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Regina Spektor, each garnering comparisons to one another to be fiercely denied and disputed by their devoted followers. Alina Orlova, the latest quirky girl with a piano awaiting her devotees, distinguishes herself primarily with Eastern European influences in what are otherwise slightly left of mainstream pop songs. Her full length debut, Laukinis Suo Dingo, (which literally translates from Lithuanian as ‘Dog Gone Wild’), is peppered with accordion jaunts, sampled drums, and glockenspiels, but it is, essentially, the insistent piano that drives it forward.
An outstanding veteran pianist from Spain, Tete Montoliu was born blind. He learned to read music in Braille when he was seven and developed impressive technique on piano. He recorded with Lionel Hampton in 1956, had his first session as a leader in 1958, and played with the touring Roland Kirk in 1963. Through the years, he also worked with such visiting Americans as Kenny Dorham, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Lucky Thompson, and even Anthony Braxton. Tete Montoliu's visits to the U.S. were very infrequent, but his SteepleChase albums (starting in 1971) are generally available; he also cut one date for Contemporary (1979) and recorded for Enja and Soul Note.