Yagull "Yuna" (zozemusic/MoonJune Records)
liner notes by Raymond Benson, New York Times Bestselling author (www.raymondbenson.com)
Yuna, the band’s newest endeavor, was created and recorded over a period of two years. Apart from one track, Sasha and Kana are the only musicians on the album—a departure from previous efforts. It is a truly intimate recording for the couple, and this is immediately evident as the aural gorgeousness flows over the senses.
As a storyteller myself, I can attest that music is one of the great conduits for stories. Yagull has shared some personal tales within these compositions.
“Muse” is especially meaningful for Yagull. The song grew out of Kana having to deal with the turbulent emotions associated with the experiences of two miscarriages over the period during which the album was recorded. Throughout this difficult time, Kana felt a presence of a spirit—a muse—inside of her. The plaintive, simple melodies on the track exhibit the sadness of what had happened, but they also morph into an optimistic strain of respect and honor for that muse.
The album’s title song is closely related. “Yuna” would have been the name of the first—and then second—baby that the couple lost; hence, the muse’s name is Yuna. This track is more joyful in its tribute to the muse, and the addition of a backing vocal elevates the music to a higher plane. To enhance the piece, Sasha and Kana decided to work with Ayumi Ueda, a member of Women of the World, after they heard her divine voice at a Carnegie Hall performance.
“101” is a bit of a departure for Yagull. While most of Kana’s compositions are gentle and often jazzy, this one is more explosive. Kana admits that the song became a catharsis for her, as it evoked an image of herself as a young woman at a time when she underwent a traumatic event. If anything by Yagull on piano and acoustic guitar could be classified as “hard rock,” this might be it. It begins with surging piano arpeggios and then develops into aggressive rhythms when Sasha joins in. Dynamic stuff! The title came from Sasha, who often mischievously dubs Yagull’s tunes with non sequiturs.
Finally, the band considers the song “Searching for the Moon” to be a gift, as the entire piece was composed within five minutes. They had been asked to “play something” during a photo shoot, and the tune was an improvisation. Bookending the album, the track offers a playful, yet mysterious melody that is simple in structure. It is perhaps the theme song for a dream.
Yuna is full of other sagas, both enigmatic and wonderful. Along with the inherent lyricism of Yagull’s music, there is also the occasional bit of humor. If the band’s rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” doesn’t make you smile, nothing will.
So, sit back, open your ears and your mind, and allow the sinuous, endless beauty of Yagull to move you. It will be a profound journey, and you will come out on the other side… changed.
by Mark Redlefsen ( writer, contributor to All About Jazz )
Yagull’s second CD, their debut for MoonJune Records, “Kai,” represents big musical and personal changes for group founder, composer, producer, and guitarist, Sasha Markovic. Yagull has officially became a duo with the addition of Sasha’s most challenging collaborator up until this time, pianist extraordinaire Kana Kamitsubo. Sasha and Kana’s partnership went further as they became husband and wife. Album “Kai” and the title track are named after their son born in 2014.
Picking up where the last Yagull CD, “Films” left off in 2012, “Kai” expands the post rock chamber soundtrack concept exploring new structures written around acoustic guitar, bass, percussion and acoustic piano. Yagull as a duo has an increased crossover potential for attracting listeners that may not be dialed into any of the specific genres baked into this release.
Yagull delivers eight brand new compositions, two tunes from "Films" revisited ( Dark, Sound Of M ) plus two covers for this sophomore release. The tracks range from "North" which exploits Kana's mastery of creating evocative mood and space for Sasha to play, folksy "Z-Parrow" while "Omniprism" drifts into progressive rock ambiance. Methenyesque tune “Blossom”, leaves space for special guest Dewa Budjana to shine with another beautiful, lyrical solo. The title track for their son emotes a melody that can easily go alongside "Waltz for Debby" by Bill Evans in any play list.Sasha once again wears his affection for classic rock as a badge reworking the Free song, "Wishing Well," which was also passionately performed by the late Gary Moore, as well as Deep Purple’s “Burn”. Beledo’s majestic lute introduction pays a homage to Deep Purple’s live version from the "Made In Europe" record.
The duo are also joined by several guest musicians, the extraordinary and diverse line up hailing from eight different countries, including fellow Moonjune international recording artists Beledo (guitar), Dewa Budjana (guitar) and Marko Djordjevic (drums), as well as the long time collaborator flutist Lori Reddy, Anthony Mullin from The Blackfires (guitar), Jackson Kincheloe from Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds ( harmonica ), Gabriel Nat (clarinet), Wen Chang (violin) and Yoshiki Yamada (upright bass). “Kai” has set Yagull on a journey that will appeal to wide range of listeners. This is essential MoonJune music.
Yagull "Films" (zozemusic/MoonJune Records)
Yagull "films" is written, arranged and produced by composer/ guitarist Sasha Markovic who is joined by an extraordinary group of soloists consisting of Lori Reddy (flute), Eylon Tushiner (sax) and Sonia Choi (cello). The music on "films" appears very cinematic and theme based, but would probably best be described as a "next generation post-rock chamber music." Like an independent film, the moods on "films" move from the dramatically atmospheric to playful. Two classic rock pieces appear in the mix that serve as listener friendly signposts within the landscape. "White Room" by Cream and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" by Black Sabbath are both bravely deconstructed from their iconic forms and melodically reconstructed as dreamy reflective impression pieces. The album closer, "Distance, " brings out the full band sound - featuring soloists Reddy and Choi, and special guest, Josh Margolis, on drums.
Exclusive worldwide Yagull distributor MOONJUNE RECORDS
Yuna (zozemusic/ MoonJune Records)
Kai (MoonJune Records)
River Was (zozemusic)
Films (zozemusic/ MoonJune Records)
Kana Kamitsubo - piano
Sasha Markovic - guitar
Featuring special guests
Ayumi Ueda - vocals
Dewa Budjana - guitar
Beledo - lute, guitar
Marko Djordjevic - drums and percussion
Lori Reddy - flute
Anthony Mullin - guitar
Jackson Kincheloe - harmonica
Wen Chang - violin
Gabriel Nat - clarinet
Yoshiki Yamada - double bass
Eylon Tushiner - sax
Sonia Choi - cello
Josh Margolis - drums