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Stanislav Kreitchi - Voices And Movement (ELCD 23)

This is the second album by Stanislav Keitchi on Electroshock, and Voices And Movement continues his explorations into sound using the unique ANS synthesizer that made Ansiana so distinctive. The album opens with the eighteen minute long Rhapsody In Rorschach, which aptly describes the cosmic, post industrial soundscape here. The track oozes atmosphere, the sounds darting here and there, just like the coloured charts that inspired it. It doesn't make for easy listening, there are no tunes as such, but the soundscapes when played at low volume are quite effective in an ambient way. The next four tracks make up a suite called Four Fantasies - and like Vivaldi's Four Seasons, these comprise Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. For me this set of tracks are the highlight of the album, while being nothing like Vivaldi's classic work, they do share a strong evocation of the seasons that is both highly atmospheric and beautiful. Perhaps where Vivaldi's work ultimately praises God, Kreitchi praises the cosmic which perhaps isn't that diametrically opposed. Winter, for example shimmers with the arctic cold and sparse samples of howling wolves and eskimo chants raise the atmosphere. In Spring, the ice and snows melt and new life appears, inuits chant to welcome the new sun, life begins. Summer opens with birdsong and assorted spacey bleeps and blips - the overall effect is of life [and light], thriving and spreading across the world. With Autumn the darkness returns, heat-leeching winds howl and life recedes across the tundra, awaiting the dreaded long winter night. This suite is one the most evocative things I've ever heard and it should become a classic of electronica. The penultimate track is Ruins In The Waste and it does share a lot of the atmosphere and ambience of the previous Four Fantasies, though this track has added brass synths and a number of new sounds - in some ways the horn parts are reminiscent of Wagner [if he was alive now and using synths]. Ruins... is very broody and it evokes [in me] the numbing dread of an H.P. Lovecraft tale, with its Stygian horrors rising from the depths. Finally there is Voices & Movement, this opens benignly with crashing waves, footsteps on the sand, half-discerned voices that could be crying or laughing. The samples of footsteps and voices endlessly shifting across the soundscape do offer a literal translation of the track title - at least until the marching band appears! This is one very weird track... Voices And Movement [the album] is not going to appeal to everyone, and it strains the definition of what is considered music at times, but it has more than its fair share of defining moments and the Four Fantasies suite is an ambient classic.


Antanas Jasenka - Deusexmachina (ELCD025)

Out of all of the recent batch of new Electroshock albums Antanas Jasenka's Deusexmachina is probably the hardest for me to find anything to like in it. The album contains music in its most abstract and confrontational form - music that is barely recognisable as such. The opening track Silence is the most approachable in the sense that its ambient mix of low-key drones, buzzes and what sound like wooden percussion blocks do set up a palpable atmosphere of ambience and mood. Unfortunately, the remaining tracks sound like the sound effects you'd get on a fairground ride through the tunnel of mirrors. A mixture of sampled voices, atonal keyboards and percussion, topped by loud stabbing bursts of electronic static [not unlike a demonised chainsaw] permeate the remaining tracks. Indeed, it sounds like music composed by and made for machines by machines. There's no denying that the contents of this album are extremely dramatic sounding, but easy on the [human] ear they are not and I can only recommend Deusexmachina to the listener who appreciates the ultimate challenge. There is no way I shall condemn this album because I didn't like it, the composer/musician obviously lives in a very different world to mine, but one visit is more than enough for me.


Edward Artemiev - Three Odes (ELCD 030)

Edward Artemiev - Three OdesThis new album by Edward Artemiev is something of a surprise - it is arguably the most commercial sounding album in the new batch of Electroshock releases. The composer has dropped his usual semi-classical style for what I can only describe as an over-the-top style of prog-rock on steroids - along with what sounds like huge banks of synths, there are a number of different choirs and solo vocalists - plus an orchestra and a rock band. I have to say that I love it - the overall feel is of an album that rocks mightily.

The album opens with some hard riffing synths and sequencers in Tangerine Dream mode - this is the start of Ode #1: Ode To The Herald Of Good. This ode is split into six sections, each with a rich and sometimes highly dramatic [aka: 'over the top'] synth backing supporting a variety of solo vocalists and choirs. Unfortunately, most of the lyrics are in Russian [I think], so I have no idea what they are singing about. But that aside, the performances are highly robust and up-tempo. The first two sections of Ode #1, A Torch and Herald Of Good, certainly sound as if Rick Wakeman and/or Emerson Lake & Palmer were a main influence. Section Three, Harmony Of The World, is much calmer, ambient washes of sound mix with bubbling synths and a celestial choir to provide a small oasis of calm before Sport - You Are A Perpetual Progress kicks in with high octane synths and choir. Section Five, A Beauty Of The Earth goes all cosmic again, chiming sequencers, echo-laden trumpets, Pink Floyd style guitar and a wistful vocal. Magic stuff! Ode #1 concludes with Appeal, a slow tempo piece where everything comes together.

Before the next ode we have a two part interlude [Interlude and Sport - You Are A Peace], with the first part sounding very much like Vangelis crossed with Tangerine Dream, while part two brings in a mighty choir and much drama. Ode #2: Phantom From Mongolia [Fantasies On Mongolian Tunes], drops the synth bombast for a more ethnic feel, oriental percussion vies with ambient drones, more celestial voices ride over the top and it's all very ethereal until halfway through when the rhythms start to kick in. The final track is Ode #3: There & Here [Terzetto], a more conventional orchestral and operatic vocal track that brings the listener back down to Earth and something resembling normalcy - almost.

This is one very strange album - I'm so used to the music on Electroshock albums being rather cold and clinical sounding, more suitable for art installations than listening for pleasure, yet with Three Odes we have an album that merges the worlds of electronica, prog-rock and opera so seemlessly that one wonders why it has never been done before. I can't recommend Three Odes highly enough - it is a gloriously mad melting pot of musical styles and pre-conceptions all stirred into something magical by Edward Artemiev and his collaborators. This is my album of the year - I can't conceive of hearing anything as remotely imaginative and pleasurable in the near future. To be heard and not believed!


Various Artists - Electroshock Presents Electroacoustic Music Vol VII

This is the latest in Electroshock's series of cutting edge and experimental music compilations. This is art with a capital "A", there are no commercial considerations here, no pop hits. The two cds contain a total of twenty tracks, and feature artists from right across the world. Those represented this time include: Claire Laronde, Vidna Obmana, Geert Verbeke, Roderik De Man, Rodrigo Sigal, Robin Julian Heifetz, Lukazs Szalankiewicz, Michal Bukowski, Jorge Antunes, Jose Mataloni, Oophoi, Arie Shapira, Mirjam Tally, Eternal Wanderers.

It has to be said that the contents on this double CD is in no way easy listening. It represents a challenge for anyones' ears, including mine - one really needs an appreciation of the surreal and perhaps the bizarre to even gain a foothold with the sound presentation on this double album. I have to admit that I found most of the tracks a little too extreme for my tastes, but then I am inherently a conservative listener. If you enjoy a challenge then the Electroacoustic series may well fit the bill for you...


Anatoly Pereslegin - Fastgod: e-psalms (ELCD028)

The inspiration for this album is taken from the Bible and more specifically David's Book of Psalms. The nine tracks musically illustrate a selection of quotes and feature a variety of electronic backings with what sounds like tape loops of various male baritones singing phrases from the various psalms. The music is multi-textured, for most of the time it is quite propulsive and throbbing with energy. The synth 'voices' are churchy to some degree - chiming bells, organ, deep drones, shimmering synth loops. The music has the circular feel of Philip Glass to it, looping back on itself, layer upon layer until it threatens to implode. Indeed, there's a strong flavour of Old Testament Hellfire and Brimstone searing through this music - this is no oratorio based on the 'happy clappy bible' favoured by most born again christians. I can't be definitive here but this album sounds like it has been influenced by Eno, Klaus Schultz, the aforementioned Philip Glasss, early Kraftwerk and perhaps even Stockhausen. Fastgod: e-psalms challenges the listener's tolerance of what can be considered to be 'musicality' throughout its length - you can't put this album and let it settle in the background. Anatoly Pereslegin has created something that is literally a musical monster. The jury is out as to whether it is a masterpiece.


Various Artists - Electroshock Presents Electroacoustic Music Vol VIII (ELCD036)

I have to admit that I usually find this Electroacoustic Music compilation series the hardest to listen to of all the Electroshock albums - mainly due to the extreme cutting edge nature of the music, and the problem of refining [in my head] what is music and what is just noise. And with Vol VIII the problem doesn't get any easier.

The album begins with Transients, by Lisa Walker, a very listenable piece of shifting violin melodies backed by equally shifting layers of sampled voices and sounds, ambience and synths. Altogether a rather moody but memorable track. Next is Claire Laronde's Matiers de Piano, which sounds like a slab of boogie woogie treated piano played by a dyspeptic robot. Next is Lulla by Milica Paranosic - this begins with mechanical birdsong and chiming voices backed by droning synths. Despite being discordant and jarring this is both atmospheric and exotic. Racing Inside the Milky Way by Vivain Adelberg Rudow follows, a pure mindbomb of discordant synth fireworks. Jukka Ruohomaki's Neuromancer Suite is next - a cosmic soundscape full of shifting drones, sampled sounds, swirling starstuff, mutating beats, overlaid with a whirlwind ghostdance of wierdness. Not recommended for listening in an old overgrown graveyard. And so the album continues, the remaining contributors include Robin Julain Heifetz, Christopher Andrew Arrell, Diego Miniciacchi, Gary Di Bendetto and Chaos as Shelter - all of them challenging to both the ear and the brain. This collection is a very mixed bag and should appeal to anyone with a passion for experimental music.

Artemiy Artemiev & Peter Frohmader

Artemiy Artemiev & Peter Frohmader - TransfigurationTransfiguration is a collaboration between two multi-instrumentalists and their multi-track studios - in other words it is magic time! Part I starts with some simple loops and samples, repetitive but it sets up the rhythm for this track and underpins it while Peter Frohmader's guitar does its own loosely cyclical part. Part II begins with a slow drum beat and ambient synth washes followed by some flute-like synth melody lines that are lovely to listen to. All in all, this one very dreamy track that packs a bit of a surprising punch in the last minute. Part III continues with a very similar melody line, clothed in sampled voices and synthesised atmospherics, staggered percussion and a low-key but persistent groove pushes the track along very nicely. So far so good - overall impression is that I am loving this. Part IV is next, ethnic-style percussion and deep echo-laden drums crash out as layer after layer of instrument appears - very dramatic sounding, definitely an oriental vibe and would make a great soundtrack for a Hong Kong-produced thriller. One can almost visualise the chase across HK harbour in junks... Final track is Part V, the longest track on the album at nearly thirty minutes, it's also the most cosmic, a series of loose drum rhythms, limpid keyboard lines, ambience and an overall feeling of drifting where the sun doesn't shine.

Transfiguration is an album of many moods, at times forceful but also laid back, it ranges from avant garde to commercial electronica, but it is always listenable and at times quite stunning in its range of sounds and their musical manipulation. It's difficult to allot credit to either musician, their individual styles have merged seemlessly together here. Another winner for Electroshock.


Artemiy Artemiev & Phillip B.Klinger
A Moment of Infinity

Artemiy Artemiev & Phillip B.Klinger - A Moment of InfinityA Moment of Infinity opens with Broken Sleep In The Fracture Zone, an eleven minute collage of ambient drones, industrial creaks and groans, distant 'tribal'-like percussion, and an overwhelming feeling of being a speck in the cosmos. I also get a disturbing mind-picture of a blasted landscape full of the distant howls of whalesong or mutated foghorns... Next track is The Other Side Of The Inner World - this opens with some slow and very deep marimba-type vibes mixed with gentle, almost industrial style drones, a gamelan drifts in and out, the whole soundscape just drifts in space past that orbiting Dunkin' DoNuts franchise with its flickering fluorescent sign. Endless Voyage is next, and as the title suggests it is extremely cosmic - again a drifting, shifting variety of drones and samples weave and entwine across the speakers, a clock strikes the hour and then morphs into a mutated twang, this track doesn't really go anywhere, but that, of course, is the whole point. The overall effect is of hanging around one of the LaGrange Points in a spacesuit and literally chillin' out...

Track 4, In A Moment of Infinity is the album's magnum opus in terms of length - twentyseven minutes and small change - and once again a clock is striking the hour over some low key drones and pulses, riven here and there with sampled choral voices and radio-astronomy radio chatter. One keeps expecting to see the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey floating across the speakers. Despite its length, there's a richness in sound and feel here, and an awe-inspiring timelessness - space is kinda huge, ya know, but that space between your ears is even bigger! The final track is A Rite Of Passage, darker sounds now, perhaps the ghouls of a graveyard are coming out to play, the sounds are certainly more demonic. A tribal, almost voodoo, beat emerges from the crowing voices and it chugs along as the drums beat on, joined by the flapping of batwings. Voices chant in the distance, debatable whether they are angelic or that of the Hellish Host - then again, this could be where all the rappers go when they die...

A Moment of Infinity is an impressive album - for much of its duration it is a space trip, the nearest thing to hitching a lift on that ufo doing the grand tour of the Solar System and all points up. Only the final track tends to darken that vision into something akin to falling into a black hole. This collaboration between Artemiy Artemiev and Phillip B.Klinger seems to have brought out the visionary in both of them and it is a vision worth seeking out.


Oöphoi - Bardo (ELCD 024)

O”phoi - BardoBardo consists of four lengthy tracks, each one a sequence of electronic drones overlaid with Tibetan percussion and other sounds, though these are mixed so low down that you almost hear them by inference rather than by definition. From the sleevenotes I assume that Bardo is a type of eastern meditation, and each of these tracks is designed to help one meditate to a specific goal. These tracks aren't really music as we know it, the drones lock onto a pitch and don't vary, only the overlaid tracks slowly evolve. As a sound installation it works well, creating barriers around the listener that block out distractions and help one focus on meditating or just the task at hand. I think Oöphoi is an Italian and this doesn't surprise me - for all of its musique concrete feel these four tracks have a baroque ornateness to them. I'm still not sure whether I like this album as it tends to defy categorisation.


Artemiy Artemiev & Christopher De Laurenti
57 Minutes To Silence

Artemiy Artemiev & Christopher De Laurenti - 57 Minutes to SilenceNever has an album title been more apt than this one - this collaboration between Artemiy Artemiev and Christopher De Laurenti certainly packs a lot of sound into the CD's 57 minutes. I say sound because I'm not sure what I am hearing could be classified as music as we are used to it. This album has a cosmic theme running through the track titles, and to be honest if you told me that what I was hearing was the sounds of stars and planets recorded via a radio telescope then I would believe you.

The album opens with Conlon's Dub, not as you might think a quick visit to an Irish watering hole but an almost tribal-beat piece of electronica that whizzes between the speakers and fades to and fro in a demented fashion. A Glimpse is a short piece of cosmic chimera, followed by Internal Static Bursts which again is exactly what it says it is. Transmission From The Coalfire begins very quietly, the most peaceful section of the album by far - it grows slowly, a series of drones, buzzes, hums and cymbal crashes over fifteen minutes of extreme oddness before fading into the void again. Aboard The Coalfire starts with what sounds like crashing pianos and voices yelling incomprehensibly. Recalibration starts with distorted bells tolling and what sounds like rustling scaffolding, mixed with a ringing sound. Very weird. Received Through The Nebula continues the cosmic theme with a slowly building soundscape that is mixed so low for first half that you need to crank up the volume just to hear it. This is the most atmospheric piece on the album and an ideal soundtrack if you are reading the source material for 2001 A Space Odyssey. The final track Solar Speech is really just a coda to the previous one, ending the album with more cosmic chimera. This is probably one of the more satisfying and challenging albums of the latest batch.


Artemiy Artemiev & Karda Estra - Equilibrium
(ELCD 031)

Artemiy Artemiev & Karda Estra - EquilibriumOne of several collaborations that Artemiy Artemiev has produced in the latest batch of albums, Equilibrium matches the cold chill of Russian electronica with the more romantic sounding 'goth new age' [as it has been called] sound of Richard Wileman's Karda Estra group. The opening track Preliminary Steps is a slowly expanding ambient soundstage of echo-drenched weird electronic drones and muted percussion, with sampled voices, cello drones and plangent guitar. Last Scene On Earth follows, a rather spatial piece of ambience full of menacing sounding deep bass drones, electronic washes and Richard Wileman's atmospheric guitar - you can almost imagine floating above the Earth, waiting for a climatic event to happen. Open The Window sounds more like a Karda Estra track, slow tolling drums, more atmospheric guitar, the synth lines are very muted. The Teller Of The Tale is the first of two nineteen minute epic tracks: the build-up is slow, a muted drum and bass lays the foundation for a mixture of synths and guitars weaving a stately dance that seems both timeless and endless. The empahisis shifts continuously between the synths and guitars, until Ileesha Bailey's ghostly voice drifts in and out of the mix. This is one of the standout tracks of the album, very timeless. The title track Equilibrium returns to the shorter timeframe, beginning with ambient rolls of synth topped with dramatic piano chords that slowly evolve into a ghostly duet with Caron Hansford's oboe and cor anglais. The final track is The Curtain Falls, and is the second lengthy epic track, woodwind once again floats over a muted dramatic chording, weaving between various ambient electronic soundscapes - very much 'out there' but also with a foot in the traditions of classical music, thanks to the woodwind solos. Equilibrium is a highly satisfying album in that each collaborator hasn't tried to snatch the focus from the other, but have shared a vision of what they wanted to achieve. This is music that drifts, perhaps without purpose [or perhaps not], it is spacious and spacey, intimate yet embraces the cosmos and is luxuriously rich in the imagery it offers. One of the very finest of the new batch of Electroshock releases.


Victor Cerullo - Visions (ELCD032)

Victor Cerullo - VisionsSubtitled "A Homage to Andrei Tarkovsky", Visions is a tribute to the much respected and admired Russian film-maker of 'Solaris' fame. Surprisingly, the linked series of tracks are more soundscapes than soundtrack, with each track built up using a series of samples, anything from sound effects, Russian choirs, clips from operas, treated sounds and, of course, overlaid with synthesiser drones, bleeps and yes, even music. It makes for a very eerie listening experience. These twelve tracks certainly are as far removed from 'easy listening' as you can get, but if you are willing to explore the glacial spaces this music conjures up then there are rewards to be had. One of these is the gently drifting melody line that permeates track five, Andrei Tarkovsky - a hauntingly beautiful and unexpectedly 'organic' tune amongst all the electronics. Track seven, Lullaby for a Distant Son is another outstanding track full of melody and beauty. Indeed, the overwhelming feeling of this album is of music and sounds flowing together - what seems discordant at first constantly shifts and changes into something very different. Give this album half a chance and it will dazzle you to the possibilities of electronic music to enhance and perhaps even magnify the human spirit. A fitting tribute from one artist to another.


Richard Bone - Indium [ELCD033]

Richard Bone - IndiumYet another album of what could be called 'experimental' music that crashes through the barriers of expectations and is actually quite approachable. This is my introduction to composer Richard Bone, and on the basis of this album I'd be more than happy to hear more. Whereas the Victor Cerullo album [see above] was extremely cosmic, Indium is a little more organic sounding - the opening track, Indium P-1 features the sampled sounds of wildlife underpinning a mixture of choral synths and piano. Very reflective and beautiful. Mercurial Wave follows, this is more 'spacey', I guess - utilising those shimmering steely sounds that seem to be a trademark sound of Electroshock recordings. Yet, again, the spaciness is tempered with lyrical piano lines that bring in some welcome humanity. The Mists of Pallenque is another gently atmospheric mix of electronics and piano which could almost be classed as 'new age', though it's much better than that. The next track, Mayapan, changes again, into one of those Eno-like ambient soundscapes that just seem to drift outside of time. The same goes for In A Space Between Marigolds, a simple repetitive piano motive that slowly shifts in space. Very reflective and hauntingly sad. Track Seven, Jasminia, carries this sadness on with a piece built on soft drones and synth pads, though the end result is perhaps more wistful than outright sadness. The final track is Indium P-11, the album's magnum opus, lasting a whopping thirty minutes - and it doesn't disappoint, taking the disparate elements used in all of the previous tracks and creating a wonderful soundscape with them. Indium is an excellent album, mixing ambience and trance to good effect.


Roman Stolyar - Credo (ELCD034)

Roman Stolyar - CredoThis is the first solo album on Electroshock by Roman Stolyar, a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Novosibirsk. The focus on this album is less electronic instrumentation but musical improvisation using an assortment of acoustic instruments such as piano, harmonium, recorder and shanti. There is, of course, some synths and programming going on as well, but this is subordinate to the acoustic instruments. Stolyar brings this altogether in Credo RS, a musical self-portrait containing all the musical styles that he plays: jazz, rock, ethnic and improv. It's all impressive stuff but it left me unmoved, at times there's just too much going on sonically and the various elements jar the senses. Songs of the Seasons, featuring vocalist Yelena Silantieva, is a short cycle of songs [in a tribute to poet and painter William Blake] in a more pronounced rock idiom and is much more enjoyable [to these ears]! The final track is called Meditation and is the most 'electronic' and akin to the 'Electroshock' sound one expects from an album on this label. All in all Credo is a very mixed bag and while the musicianship is impressive the album didn't really click with me overall - but that's personal taste... you might find it the album of your dreams.


Valery Siver & Kiryll Trepakov - Midway (ELCD035)

Valery Siver & Kiryll Trepakov - MidwayMidway is a new album from Electroshock fusing the labels' trademark cutting edge electronic sounds with more conventional instruments. In this case it is guitars [acoustic and electric] and it shows in the way the music has a much more approachable feel and openness to it - indeed, the third track Hot Wind is positively jazzy and soul-stirring. In fact this sense of 'swing' permeats the album throughout, making it one of the most melodic albums I've heard in a long time. Mixing traditional instruments and synthesisers has always been a difficult task for musicians - they aren't natural bedfellows after all - but on this album Valery Siver and Kiryll Trepakov seem to have cracked it. The synths and samplers create the bedrock of percussion and melodic background and the guitars subtly weave their magic throughout. Track seven, Don, is a fine example of this magic, a limpidly funky backbeat is layered with soft synth drones while the guitars dance slowly with a synth lead, not exactly Ravel's Bolero but very exotic. The more I hear of Midway the more I like it, it is an album that deserves to be heard by as wide an audience as possible. It is quite simply a magical album. I do hope it won't be too long before Valery Siver and Kiryll Trepakov release another album.


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