Good Old-fashioned Avant Garde

Dreams (Dreaming People Records)
Misha Feigin

By Paul Moffett

Misha Feigin is an unrepentant idealist and believer in the power of music to transform the human spirit. He talks and writes that way. Considering that he comes from Moscow, where cynicism is simply Standard Operating Procedure for citizens, one might conclude that he is daft or, perhaps, suffering from terminal adolescence.

One would be wrong. Feigin's work is more in the spirit of the late 19th century idealists, before the carnage of the 20th century crushed belief into the thin wallpaper of political pandering. On this CD, he writes, plays and sings with a lightness of heart that belies the journeys that he, along with the rest of humanity, has taken through the end of this century, including emigration from Russia to the strange land of Kentucky some eight years back.

To help him on the CD, Feigin rounded up several excellent players from the area, including members of the Java Men, Splatch, Ut Gret, French TV and Walker and Kays. Sam Gray aided in the playing and producing, so that the effect was not one of overload but rather just the right mix of instrumentation for the material.

Feigin's lyrics are just ever-so-slightly twisted away from American English, but not because of translation from the Russia. He writes in English, he says, but it's nearer the English of James Branch Cabell and H. G. Wells than Sam Clemens or Phillip Roth. Whatever the stylistic definitions, his lyrics run strongly to poetry, as from the tune "Heavens of Gray, " credited as "after John Fowles Magus:"

"silence that's coming from inside

meets the silence outside.

it's a reprieve without a reproach,

a froth in the colorless tide."

When the lyrics are translated from Russian, their original tongue is more noticeable, as with this from "before completion":

three little smokes against the sky,

three little shadows on the water,

the wheel is turning, and again we try

with fear no more to find each other."

Most of the songs are not "in the form" that American audiences are used to, requiring instead that some attention be paid. Then again, maybe it's just that Americans don't care to pay any attention to something more complex than a McDonald's jingle. However, "In the Shelter" is a musically accessible tune and one that might find occasional radio play.

Finally, though, there is this from "lunar fish," that so circumscribes Feigin's state:

"flash of silver, little fish

there's no time to have a wish."

Dreams is available at the usual record stores around the city or from Misha Feigin, 221 N. Clifton #31, Louisville, KY 40206.