The parallel between Chaika and another much longer established Sydney ensemble, Mara! & Martenitsa choir – promoted by a selected of Balkan inspired folk-jazz and choral pieces on the younger band’s eponymous 2012 debut release – is consolidated on their new album by the inclusion of two Italian poems set to music by the group’s Laura Bishop, who has a close association with Martenitsa Choir. Coincidentally ‘I Monti’ and ‘Elegia’…are among the stand out tracks – especially the latter, a spine tingling a capella study involving all six members. The sublime harmony vocals of Chaika’s four female members are also in evidence on Russian text/poetry set to music by band leader Emily-Rose Šarkova and a piece by Laura Bishop based on a Bulgarian poem.
– Tony Hillier, Rhythms Magazine, July 2014, reviewing I Monti
For 20 years the amateur female singers of the Martenitsa Choir in Sydney have made high-calibre music in a joyously collegiate spirit. Professionals Mara and Llew Kiek founded the choir, the former schooling members in Bulgarian open-throat singing. The repertoire has mingled Bulgarian folk songs with ambitious original compositions often performed with the superb Mara! band.… A stand-out was Maika i Sin, a Laura Bishop setting of a Stefan Kozuharov poem. This exciting composition featured Silvia Entcheva’s microtonal singing taking a compelling lead.
‘A unique collection of songs… To say that these guys are talented would be an understatement. …The whole effect is mesmerising, as is much of the rest of this extraordinary CD’ ★ ★ ★ ★
– Michael Morton-Evans, Fine Music 102.5FM, August 2014, reviewing I Monti