World & Latin

Nowhere Men

22 MAR 10 JOHN C. BRUENING

Out Of Nowhere, the 2005 release from the duo known as Two Siberians, could not be more aptly titled. Violinist Artyom Yakushenko and guitarist Yuri Matveyev hail from an obscure little town called Irkutsk, a couple hours north of Mongolia.

After a chance meeting with an American record producer at a photography exhibit in Moscow in the late-'90s, followed by a series of unannounced, blind-faith trips to the States several years later to secure a record deal with said producer (who barely remembered them when they called from the airport), the wheels started turning, albeit slowly. A demo was recorded, some East Coast club and festival gigs generated a favorable buzz, meteorites were bought and sold (don't ask), and the duo landed a deal with Heads Up.

A few of the 15 tracks feature just Yakushenko and Matveyev, but more often than not, the Siberians are backed by various combinations of a highly talented crew that includes bassist Richard Bona, saxophonist Michael Brecker, percussionist Mino Cinelu and others. All add layers of depth and texture to a duo that already covers a lot of territory with just a guitar and a violin.

The music is best described as Eastern European jazz laced with elements of classical, pop and folk. The pace is usually lively and upbeat, as in "Allergic To Gravity," "New Russian" or "Indigo Breeze." But even the mid-tempo and slower numbers like "Amoroso" -- a ballad featuring Bona on vocals as well as bass -- and the introspective "On the Tundra" exhibit a smoldering energy of their own.

To date, this is the sole release from Two Siberians. Nevertheless, they've proven in a single recording that interesting music can emerge from the most unlikely places -- sometimes out of nowhere.