The festival of Rusalnaia is about honouring, some would say placating, the Rusalki – mischievous water nymphs from Slavic mythology capable of tickling victims to death – with song, dance, tree-decorating and wreath-making. Rusalnaia is what happened when Sharron Kraus and Gillian Chadwick, then neighbours in Fishtown, Philadelphia, became friends and decided to honour the Rusalki in each other. The two, coming from very different musical backgrounds, made journeys into each other’s musical terrain until it was no longer clear what the boundaries were. In the collaborative process, they became as close as sisters and found their way to the shared musical aesthetic that is Rusalnaia.
Rusalnaia’s eponymous first album was recorded at Hexham Head Studios in Philadelphia by Greg Weeks (Espers, The Valerie Project, Marissa Nadler) and released on Camera Obscura Records in 2008.
For their next album it was Gillian’s turn to cross the ocean and join Sharron in the Welsh vicarage she’d moved to. There the two of them set up to record an altogether heavier album, with Michael Tanner (Plinth, The A Lords) at the controls and Mark Wilden (The Evenings) on drums. Lyrics were finalised in front of a woodburning stove, arrangements were discussed on moonlit walks around the graveyard, and a new album started to take shape…
‘Time Takes Away’ charts the breakdown of the musical community in Philadelphia that had nurtured Sharron and Gillian, as well as exploring themes relating to the passage of time, breakdowns of old relationships and new beginnings. In the wreckage of what was lost, bright jewels hardened and tempered in the flames of suffering are found and celebrated.
‘Time Takes Away’ will be released by Cambrian Records, 15th July 2016