ILM's 2005 collaborative mix project hoonja-doonja!

August 23, 2005

Marc Almond -- "Always and Everywhere (I Will Follow You)"

Partially suggested by Tantrum's observation of the melancholy in Prezioso's song, partially also by the (very) low-key electronics at the heart of my chosen tune, ultimately my choice here is simply due to my remembering one of the more inspired moments in Marc Almond's wide-ranging work. Almond's been huge in Russia for a number of years, and starting with a solo tour in the early nineties he has since returned many times, to the point where he maintains an apartment there, but the idea to do an album concentrating on nothing but Russian songs from throughout the twentieth century (and before) came from a fan and fellow musician, Misha Kucherenko, who felt that Almond (to use Marc's words in describing it) "would have a feel for those torch songs that express the Russian soul." Almond was surprised but eventually persuaded to participate in a wide-ranging project released as Heart On Snow, one of his best albums.

According to the liner notes, this song was one of the standards in the repetoire of Vadim Kozin, a musical superstar in WWII-era Russia who fell foul of Stalin partially due to his refusal to perform for him in 1945, partially due to his homosexuality, which though criminalized in the Soviet era he openly flaunted. Though he survived through the mid-nineties, Kozin never regained his fame, living quietly with a lover near the Arctic Circle gulag he suffered in for five years.

It's little wonder that Almond, a student not only of song but personality, would have found Kozin's story of interest, and the song as translated is notable for being a love song -- again like Prezioso's -- that specifies no gender in the object of desire. The delivery and arrangement is elegant, sad, shrouded in nighttime shadow, the melodrama in the lyric perfectly apt for Almond while suggesting the potential emotional depths of Russian poetry and music both. It is perhaps a bit formal as well -- Almond has had more gripping vocal performances over the years -- but it's an exercise that still works, an exploration into, for non-Russian musicians and listeners both, unknown waters.

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