Album of the Week: Valentina Goncharova | Recordings 1987-1991 Vol. 2

Some of my favorite outsider art was created by people on the inside.

Once upon a time, there a purity to the notion of outsider art (or art brut, raw art, naïve art, etc.) and that purity lasted about 2 minutes. Once ordained, there’s no going back like opening a sealed tomb and watching everything turn to dust.

Who is Valentina Goncharov?

Goncharova was born in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in 1953 and moved to Leningrad when she was 16, where she began studying violin under Soviet rule at The Leningrad Conservatory. She remained there until 1983, expanding her skill set to include contemporary music composition. But when she discovered Soviet jazz trailblazers Ganelin Trio in the late ‘70s, the course of her life was changed forever. “I’d never heard anything like it,” she recalls. “That was the point I understood I wanted to play only music like that from now.” Gonchorava immediately began exploring ways to balance her refined violin-playing with future-facing DIY electronic sound design—and she has been doing that same thing ever since.

Recordings 1987-1991 Vol. 1 & 2, both are highly recommended, were recorded at Goncharov’s home on a modified Soviet-era reel-to-reel recorder in the late ‘80s. Inside meet outside.

These works have power, mystery, majesty, and magic with their classical jazz drone, Terry Riley meets Moondog, vibe. Sounding at once awkward and agile, these compositions delight and surprise at every measure.

Indulge your fancy and fly.