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It may be that the name Sistra is a little misleading, but then Sistra are a misleading band. The name, due to its similarity to the word "sister" would suggest a female group, yet judging by the names of the four members they're all male. That said, our knowledge of Russia isn't up to much, and although it may sound like "Michael" or something similar, Michail may be a female name. If not, then it makes the female lead vocal on these songs somewhat puzzling. We had a quick look on a translation website and can find no clear meaning for their band name, but the far-east of Russia is an area that, to most in the UK at least, rarely gets mentioned in media at all. So it's great to find a band whose home town, Khabarovsk, is from that region, an icy, heavily-forested region with great rivers which they compare to Scandinavia or even Iceland more than Moscow and so on.
It's often said that music is a product of its environment, and these three songs will happily conform to any notions you might have about minus 30 degree temperatures and the vastly changing daytime lengths of northern areas. There's a little magic here; a dreamlike quality that's aided by those vocals, particularly on 'Banshee'. The band have a very modern sound despite the atmosphere being one that's carried through generations. Just listen to the hectic electronic beats of that track, and also the almost entirely electronic backing. If this makes sense, you could compare these songs to folktronica - only without the folk. It's not regular electronica, put it that way, and although the sounds are artificial the ambience they create is one that feels natural, like the landscape around them. The title-track is similar in style to the opener, bringing in male vocals as an accompaniment, something which is again added to on the gentle 'New Death'. With the vast expanses that country has, you wonder what other hidden treasure there is to be discovered.
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