Galya Bisengalieva Shares: “Barsa-Kelmes”

Taken from the album Aralkum

The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet.

Situated in Central Asia, it was once the fourth largest lake in the world. But the rivers that fed the Aral were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects from the 1960s. It has been disappearing ever since.

By 1997, it had diminished to ten percent of its original size and satellite images captured by NASA in August of 2014 revealed that - for the first time in modern history - the Eastern basin of the Aral Sea had dried up completely, a region now known as the Aralkum desert. This disaster is the subject of Kazakh-British violinist Galya Bisengalieva’s arresting debut album “Aralkum”. Today she shares her debut single “Barsa-Kelmes” alongside its video directed by Damir Otegen.

“I felt that making a music video was important to convey the horror of the Aral disaster, as it’s not well documented in the West” says Galya. “The track leaves one feeling isolated so I wanted the story to be told through the eyes of an individual, the character is purposefully androgynous which goes against a typically male dominated Kazakh culture. It was important to me that this was made by somebody, who like myself, grew up with the story of this disaster, as well as visiting the area and experiencing the devastation first hand. I was very happy, alongside One Little Independent to commission Damir and his talented team who are based in my home town of Almaty.”

“This story is about a being who lost everything in life and makes a desperate attempt to return everything to its place” continues Damir. “The story takes place in Kazakhstan in a once prosperous port. Late at night, someone bursts into the garage of the city reservoir, steals a car loaded with water, and leaves the town in a hurry. We see the car racing at full speed into a desert, where water used to be. The more it plunges into the desert, more distinctly we begin to notice the mystical creatures that inhabit this ship cemetery and that pay attention to the unexpected guest. Something mystical is happening. Whether it is a dream or a parallel reality, we don't know. But one thing is clear - we see death, the death of the sea, and the death of everything connected with it.”