Daria Kulesh & Tristan Seume

2020 hasn’t brought many positives for lovers of live music, still less for the many fine musicians who are no longer able to rely on gigging for a living. From a selfish point of view, though, at least the dramatic increase in online gigs has meant that age, infirmity and geographical isolation have been less of a barrier, in principle at least, to my own listening. Like others here at folking.com I’ve long appreciated the music of Daria Kulesh – that will not come as news to you if you’ve seen our reviews of her albums Long Lost Home and Earthly Delights – but I didn’t really expect ever to see her live. This month, however, I was lucky enough to catch the first part of a concert live on Zoom, with Daria’s exquisite vocals supported by Tristan Seume’s fluent and sonorous (and always appropriate) guitar and her own Shruti box.

The set opened with the Ingush lament ‘Distant Love’, as translated by Daria, and ranged through a number of other songs you may know from those two albums. ‘Vasilisa’ is based on a Russian fairy tale, ‘Rusalka’ is based on Pushkin’s poem about a water spirit, and ‘Morozko’ is a story concerning a snow demon somewhat similar to St. Nicholas– however, this is a version of Santa whose naughty list you definitely don’t want to feature on. ‘The Moon And The Pilot’ is a sad yet ultimately hopeful story of love and enormous injustice towards the people of Ingushetia. ‘Untangle My Bones’ is based on an Inuit legend, and ‘Earthly Delights’ is a welcome reminder that “there is no deadlier sin than a heart without love.

I’ve been a little nervous about using Zoom owing to some not-too-great experiences in corporate and conference contexts, but this worked very well apart from a few momentary dropouts that may well have been due to my elderly laptop and/or not-always-reliable connection. The sound – curated, I think, by Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer – was perfect.

Daria has more Zoom gigs coming up in the near future with Tristan, with her trio and solo: see http://www.daria-kulesh.co.uk/gigs/. Keep watching, also, for news of a forthcoming EP.

David Harley

Artist’s web site: http://www.daria-kulesh.co.uk

‘The Moon And The Pilot’ – official video: