Friday, March 02, 2007

Musicola: Between Almaty and Moscow

Since exploring the nifty online jukebox of KZ music, I’ve been listening to Musicola, a smooth jazz-influenced pop duo from Almaty. Since their first single & album (Girl in a White Dress / Dyevochka v platitsye byelom) debuted in 1996, Musicola has stayed on pop charts in the CIS; I realized that one of my favorite songs on a Moscow-produced “greatest hits of the year” CDs is a Musicola track. In 2005, they released a Kazakh-language album Arman Zholdar (Road of Dreams); other albums are in Russian.

Musicola is Karina Abdullina, 32, vocalist and songwriter, and Bulat Sazdykov, 51, arranger and guitarist. Karina was born in Almaty into a family of professional musicians, and began singing at age four. Her mother, Olga Lviv is a classical pianist, her father, an operatic baritone. Karina’s grandfather and his twin brother, Rishat and Muslim Abdullin, were stars in the Soviet classical constellation of the 1940s-1970s. Karina’s family name is pronounced “ab-DOOL-in-a.”

Bulat Sazdykov is originally from Karaganda. His family wanted him to be a doctor, but at 14 he took a course in jazz guitar, and has been a musician ever since (even during his obligatory two years in the military). Before Musicola he was in successful bands in the 1980s, worked as a session musician for top artists in Moscow, and now is also a producer for young musicians in his own studio. In the “small world” category, Gulnara met Bulat in Almaty a few years ago; they have friends in common.

It's practically impossible to buy
Musicola in the US, and I've even had a hard time finding their music on Russian sites (which all got shut down in February anyway) . Most of their CDs/albums are out of print. But never fear! The band's official website has downloadable MP3s of all the albums, with lyrics (in Russian). Listen to Dyevochka, Won't Forget You (great dance tune) or Arman Zholdar, and see if the jazzy, haunting melodies don't follow you around (in a good way).

If you've been captured by the Musicola sound, right here on News from the Caravan, you can download the 2006 Best of Musicola CD (71 MB zip file) for your very own. (EDIT - link updated 2/19/2008) It's all freely available on the band's website, but I've packaged the lyrics (I can't predict whether the Cyrillic will display properly, though), artwork and all 18 songs together. Enjoy!


Leila said...

Thanks for posting this story! I really like Musicola, and both Karina and Bolat are very talented. Karina will play a role of Mustafa-Shokai's wife, it's a new film about Turkestan Legion's leader, was shot in Prague.

Nyura said...

Thanks, Leila. I hope that more English-speakers will discover Musicola now -- I really like them too.

Do you know anything more about the Mustafa Shokai film? All I could find is that it's another state-sponsored production (like Nomad), which doesn't bode well for its success outside RK.

Nyura said...

Can anyone tell me what language this blog is written in? I'm guessing it's Kazakh in Romanized script, but maybe it's another Turkic language instead?

Leila said...

I heard the same about the film, that it is sponsored by the state. I find it so interesting that Kazakhstan would make a national hero from Mustafa Shokai, it is so controversial. The film director is Narymbetov. No news about the date of release.

The blog that you mentioned is very interesting. It is like Kazakh but with a little Turkish accent :) Maybe it's a language of an ethnic Kazakh in Turkey, or a Turk who is writing in Kazakh.