While not all religious experiences lead to conversion, there are those powerful enough to merit artistic exploration. Ergo Northodoxian, a project that’s been specifically put together by Estonian promoter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Lauri Laubre after witnessing devotion so intense from followers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that it left him profoundly shaken.

Visiting southern Ukraine in 2007, Laubre – then as now a confirmed atheist – was introduced to Archimandrite Mikail Pyanov, the rector of the Holy Trinity Dukonsky Monastery who, after showing him the restricted and cloistered sections of the monastery, then exposed Laubre to pilgrims who’d travelled across Ukraine. “I’d never seen anything like it before but about 100 people were laying on the ground and praying,” says Laubre. “They’d been there for two weeks with their families and small kids with no lights, no heat, nothing. It was like stepping into a movie scene. It somehow echoed back to me. It was a very special atmosphere.”

What intrigued Laubre most was the faith and devotion expressed by the pilgrims. “I just wanted to somehow show this power to non-believers. All of a sudden, I saw the way to do it.” His answer was to present an observation on the power of faith and worship by integrating liturgies and Orthodox choral music and hymns with prog rock. The end result is Northodoxian’s eponymous debut, a powerful blend of the sacred with the profane.

“I created my songs and used many prayers and some lithurgies to make one unique composition,” says Laubre. “I’m very happy with the result.”

Helping him bring this vision to life are Raul Vaigla (“a legendary Estonian bass player”), drummer Andrus Lillepea and, by a quirk of fate, Ukrainian guitarist Gennadiy Grimov. “He came to visit me in my home studio and we sat and drank whisky, played to the demos and we became great friends,” recalls Laubre. “He’s an unbelievable talent.” Also included are choral chants from the Holy Trinity Dukonsky Monastery that have been blessed by Archimandrite Mikail Pyanov.

More practical and complex concerns surround Northodoxian’s plans to stage a performance of the album. “We’re trying now to figure out not just a live band show, but maybe more like a visual musical experience.” You’ve got to have faith in that.

— JM

From "Around The World - Northodoxian" Prog Reprinted with permission.


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