Genre: folk-rock, art-rock
On-stage, Gaya Arutyunyan is a whirlwind of energy, leading to invigorating live shows. At times, she parades around the stage like a demented marionette – which perhaps detracts attention from a distinctive voice, well-matched to her band’s unconventional music.
In the recording studio, meanwhile, Deti Picasso effortlessly veer between high-octane Armenian-accented folk-rock and arty alternative sounds with the whiff of Caucasian cognac mingling with ethereal verses derived from European poets.
It’s a curiously addictive mix: on the one hand, albums like Turbo Mairik and Ethnological Experiments play a solid hand of folk-rock, drawing on the sounds of the band’s native Armenia – both in terms of music and language. Tracks like Yaman, based on a traditional Armenian song, or the livelier self-penned Hrazhesti Erge typify this strand of their music.
But that’s not all. The 2006 Russian-language release “Glubina” (The depths) was a dark-hued slab of highly intellectual rock, voted best Russian release of that year by many critics and the band returned to that genre after decamping to Budapest to record the double-album “Gerda” and “Kai” in 2010. That pair, in effect, is two versions of the same release: based on fairytales of a perilous voyage in search of an unknown, lost sibling, Gerda is the official release, while Kai is a mysterious, ethereal twin.
It’s a more dramatic release, at times more affected, and features cameos from members of cult industrial acts Einsturzende Neubaten and Laibach among others. While tracks like Norvezhskaya Ryba are some distance from the easier listening of the band’s folksier releases, there are great rewards to be found here as well.