The opening composition of “Czar Nicholas is Dead” is “Yurovsky’s Lament”. Theme album, perhaps? I find it hard to really see or hear themes when the artist doing the theme is largely (if not completely) instrumental-based. I understand that there is a theme based on the track titles, but there does not seem to be a theme that immediately presents itself to me. How is one supposed to tell the story of the Russian Revolution in any format in only 50 minutes? More so, how many individuals that actually are picking up this album or are seeing Kiefer perform this suite live will know the exact events that Kiefer details in these movements.
I understand that individuals can tell the story of events, but I do not see exactly how one can cover something as large as the Russian Revolution in such a short time frame. The compositions that Kiefer puts to disc on “Czar Nicholas is Dead” are nothing less than inspired. For example, a track like “Koptyaki Road, Night” shows listeners a pastoral scene. The crickets in the background, the wide-open spaces of the composition all seem to show the title locale. How this pertains to the Russian Revolution, I am not sure, but Kiefer can definitely elicit the emotions that ey wants from the audience listening in. Obviously, the compositions do not need to conform to what is usually considered “proper” for popular music, but do conform to the listeners. For example, Kiefer smartly makes each of the tracks on “Czar Nicholas is Dead” interesting.
The aforementioned “Koptyaki Road, Night” is almost seven minutes but Kiefer puts enough material in the track to keep individuals riveted to the edge of their seats. Christian Kiefer knows how to elicit emotions from eir audience; time and time again, from “The Black Dove” to “Czar Nicholas is Dead”, ey has shown listeners just that. There are hints of some human action present in the narrative that Kiefer creates on this album, but I cannot really tell that what Kiefer is doing is telling the Russian Revolution. The use of Russian instruments further show listeners where Kiefer wants them to go, but without something more obvious, I have a feeling that listeners may just miss out. The compositions are impressive, and Kiefer’s ability as a musician must never be called into question. However, there needs to be a little more narrative in these tracks to make it obvious what Kiefer wants.
Top Tracks: On Suffering Grief, Yurovsky’s Lament
Christian Kiefer – Czar Nicholas is Dead / 2006 Camera Obscura / 10 Tracks / http://www.christiankiefer.com / http://www.cameraobscura.com.au / Reviewed 07 August 2006