KAVKASIA is not just an album, it’s a portfolio. Chock full of photographs, colors and sounds, the release is a multi-media experience that brings Georgia and the Caucasus Mountains to life, while serving as a tour of Minco Eggersman‘s talents. The album gathers talent from across the disciplines, ranging from director Yaron Cohen to the Macedonian Symphony Orchestra. Dozens of people worked on this project, and it shows.
So let’s start with the videos. “Hidden in Clouds” was our first taste of the project, way back in winter. We first thought the track was a teaser, but as it turns out, this is the complete piece: the overture of the set. One gains the impression of something grand: buildings dwarfed by mountains, mountains draped by snow.
Then there’s “The Other Side of Dawn”, a more elaborate, intimate piece that carries the viewer into spring: snows melting, buds blooming, rain falling to replace the snow. One begins to consider this album as Eggersman’s own movement from winter to spring: an evolution from his early works as a singer-songwriter and drummer to his current incarnation as soundtracker. Or perhaps one should separate the words ~ sound tracker ~ as the artist traveled into the highest reaches of his region to record the winds and birds heard in “Holy Ground” and throughout the album.
Now let’s take a look at the physical packaging. The regular edition is lovely in its own right, but there’s also a special edition embedded in an old book, pulled tight by a ribbon ~ silk if one orders the limited edition ~ along with eight photos. Convinced yet?
And now the music, which can be broken into multiple genres. The artist presents two lyric tracks, which we’ll leave aside as our primary focus is the instrumental. But there are also two lyric-free vocal tracks, back-to-back, whose melodies draw comparison to those of happy Sherpas. “Melisma & Gurian” and “Deda Ena” produce an intense feeling of peace, especially when the echoes arrive at the end, speckled in birdsong. One can picture the monks the artist encountered, “who will go a day’s walk just to buy bread”. This subtlety leads into one of the album’s two jazz pieces, “Tbilisi Calls”, an eleven-minute piano and sax-based composition that launches with church bells (which return multiple times) and slowly winds its way up and down the mountain. Every time the piece flourishes, it implies deep-set confidence, before retreating into contemplation again and again.
The organ forms an integral part of “Holy Ground” and “Stepantsminda”, the latter casting a bridge between jazz and modern composition, an idea implied in the title of “The Crossing Place”. Finally, the brass tracks (“The Black Sea” and “The Home of the Brave”) connote a deep, reverent patriotism, based on one country but not restricted to it. As the artist looks out over the land, contemplating nature and nation, one can feel his sense of pride. If this is what Georgia sounds and feels like, it must be an incredible place to live. (Richard Allen)