Olga Bell’s Krai – Pitchfork & The Talkhouse Review

Photo by Noah Kalina

Photo by Noah Kalina

Congratulations to Olga Bell, whose recently released sophomore album Krai has already been earning praise from multiple press outlets. The album received an excellent review on Pitchforkwith Jayson Greene calling it a “stirring collection of strange, thrilling noises” and a “mesmerizing, eventful” album.

In addition, Nika Danilova (aka Zola Jesus), also recently reviewed the record for The Talkhouse, praising Bell’s “brave and sharp” musicality and calling the album “refreshing and evocative in emphasizing her strong narrative.

For more information and to stream/but on the album, click HERE.


Released on April 29Krai is inspired by the lesser-known corners of Bell’s homeland and written entirely in her native Russian, Krai is Bell’s second LP and first large-scale composition. Pitchfork premiered “Perm Krai,” noting that the track “crawls with tightly compressed activity, all of it separated by clear lines.” All formats of Krai are available for order directly from New Amsterdam here, including a limited-edition red vinyl 12″ LP packaged in double foil-stamped sleeves–a collaboration with London-based One Little Indian Records.

Krai (край) is the Russian word for edge, limit, frontier or hinterland. Present-day Russia is divided into a myriad of ‘federal subjects’, including nine krais. In this capacity the term is a political designation, like ‘territory’, but for the earliest Russians these places represented both the promise and terror of the vast unknown.

While much has been written about Russia’s major cities, Olga Bell’s Krai is concerned with the rest of the map: the wilderness, the towns, the inhabitants and their stories. From the Cossack melodies of Krasnodar Krai in the West to the Chukchi drumming of Kamchatka Krai in the Russian Far East, Krai is a journey across the Eurasian landmass in forty minutes.

Scored for cello, electric guitar, bass, pitched drums, mallet percussion and electronics, Krai features a vocal ensemble of six Olgas (four female, two ‘male’) singing entirely in Russian. The texts of Krai are a mix of traditional, liturgical and original poetry Olga created with her mother, a former Radio Moscow broadcaster. Cossack fables, Orthodox chant and politically charged limericks collide in a dizzying mosaic of avant-garde and vernacular soundscapes.

Krai was recorded at Machines With Magnets, a Rhode Island studio where many like-minded musicians (BattlesLightning Bolt) have created groundbreaking work. In February, the work was premiered to a sold-out Walker Art Center.

For more information and to order on the album, click HERE.