Artemiy Artemiev: Review:  
(Electroshock Records 2000, ELCD 017)
12 tracks. Total time - 71:45

This latest album by Moscow-based musician and label boss Artemiy Artemiev is a collection of twelve tracks recorded over a long period of time: 1988-2000. These are tracks, I assume, that were recorded during the sessions for his previous albums but not used for various reasons. One would normally assume that if that was the case they wouldn't be up to much, in terms of quality. But not so! "Forgotten Themes" is perhaps Artemiy's most approachable and commercial sounding album yet, beginning with a movie theme, "The Fan", a rich slice of pounding electronica that wouldn't be out of place if you whispered "Tangerine Dream"! "The Last Waltz" follows, a lengthy atmospheric synth drum workout which shows just how boring most drum 'n' bass' stuff is - in fact it sounds like a demented fairground ride! "An Evening in the Country" is a short melodic ambient piece mixing a rainstorm with the sound of chimes and clocks - oh, and grasshoppers. The centrepiece of the album is the very ambient and minimalist "An Autumn Breath" - eighteen minutes of gently shifting notes that somehow contrive to be timeless and exist in their own cosmos. Another cosmic track is "Space Distortion", a rumbling, echoing industrial soundscape. The album closes with the robotic waltz-like "The Ending", another visit to that cyber fairground. I've only described the most striking tracks here, but the whole album is a gem of highly accessible electronica and is a bravura showcase for an excellent musician little known in the west.

John Peters ("The Borderland")

Russian electronic music composer Artemiy Artemiev worked on many soundtracks over the years. "Forgotten Themes" unearths a selection of his material from 1988 to 2000. This CD is the most accessible of his catalogue, the music being fairly straightforward electronic music, all keyboard-generated except for some electric guitar on three tracks, bass and violin on one. If Artemiev's creativity is not showcased here (he has recorded much more daring albums in the past, like "Five Mystery Tales of Asia" and "Dreams in Moving Space" (in collaboration with Phillip B. Klingler), the music features his talent to weave atmospheres and chisel melodies. References to Edgar Froese and Jean-Michel Jarre are in order. "Theme from the Motion Picture The Fan-I & II" is typical electronic soundtrack music from the 1980s: nice, but it lacks personality. The longest track is also the simplest and the more puzzling: "An Autumn Breath" is basically 18 minutes of a slow stripped-down melody played over a two-note bass line figure. This album is clearly not essential Artemiy Artemiev and should be considered only by the dedicated fan.

Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")

Comprised mostly of earlier unreleased works (going as far back as 1988) Artemiy Artemiev has released what, in my opinion, is his most accessible and "friendly" album so far. Previously knowing Artemiy more for such dark and spacy works as "Dreams in Moving Space" and "Space Icon", "Forgotten Themes" came as a shock to me. Full of great melodic EM, it reminded me (at times) of a cross between Richard Burmer and Patrick O'Hearn. While some cuts ("Space Distortion", "Realm of Shadows" and "An Autumn Breath") do harken back to earlier releases, most of what's here is much more structured and hook-oriented. Flat out, the CD is a blast and once I got over the shock of hearing such mainstream (relatively) music from Artemiy, I couldn't get enough of the CD! Starting off with the heavily rhythmic "Theme from The Fan I-II" (is this from the Robert DeNiro movie?), which uses a propulsive beat and creative EM keyboards, the album immediately grabs your attention with its catchy melodies and innovative use of synths. Next up is "The Last Waltz" (no, not from "The Band's" concert film) a slice of neo-classical EM featuring very cool harpsichord-like synths and a Berlin-esque drum machine rhythm that gets into your bloodstream! The piece has a strong undercurrent of Germanic EM influence although it's not the least bit derivative of that school either. Maybe this is neo-Balkan EM? It has an Eastern European folk texture to it at times which is hard to explain. But it sure does rock! Snaky synth strings and washes of melody enter at the midpoint and the song really hits its stride. Nearly every single cut on "Forgotten Themes" is a winner. "An Evening in the Country" should strike that Richard Burmer chord in fans of that artist. Mixing the sound of a rainstorm with a percussive blend of various melodic synths yields a highly enjoyable and quite musical song. A flute-like lead synth line carries the main melody above twinkling bells - it's all too delicious for words, let me tell you. "Sand Castle" is classic vintage "new Age" EM, with plucked strings, melodic yet sparse synths and relaxed mid-tempo cadence all done up in a variety of keyboard textures. "Night City" features exotic hand percussion, snaky rhythms, mildly word beat-influenced keyboards and a sensuousness often lacking in EM. A somber lower registre synth line, along with lush synth strings, reverses the emotional impact of this cut, turning it into something almost forlorn and melancholic. Very cool! I don't care much for "Space Distortion", a slice of quasi-experimental/ambient music, more in keeping with the spirit of Artemiy's earlier releases like "Dreams in Moving Space". But the next cut, "Realm of Shadows", while dark and somewhat menacing, is incredible! Powerful lower register synths (sounding like an arsenal of orchestral basses and cellos) playing in a staccato-effect are juxtaposed with a discordant violin-like sound. While the piece is somewhat atonal and maybe even experimental in nature, it has a strong melodic character nonetheless. The albumNs centerpoint, if you will, is the almost twenty-minute long "An Autumn Breath", which is the only "new" cut on the album. It's an evocative exploration of ambient minimalism along the lines of Eno and Budd. A solitary digital piano (?) is counterpointed by a lower register piano refrain with a decent amount of echo effect thrown into the mix as well. Later in the song, rhythmic elements are introduced, but the cut remains solidly in the minimalist camp. While this is in marked contrast to the rest of the album, I loved it and I don't believe it disrupts the album's flow to any great degree. The last two songs include a rather gonzo EM version of the classic American folk song "I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger" (an oddity but Artemiy manages to carry it off admirably) and the album concludes with a true oddity, "The Ending" which is a whimsical yet scary (think Tim Burton doing gypsy/circus music!) song that sounds like a Eastern European orchestra whose members watched too many Hammer horror films! Quite funny in a demented way but also very well done, too, and I wound up enjoying the song in spite of myself! What can I say? Artemiy Artemiev is talented as hell. If these are truly "forgotten themes", I'm glad they were "found". There are enough creative gems on this album to fuel a whole series of recordings. While I never expected such a "friendly" album from one of my favorite ambient/dark ambient composers, I'm impressed all to hell with this new side (old side?) of the Russian EM master. Bravo, Artemiy, bravo!

Bill Binkelman ("Wind & Wire")

The majority of Artemiy Artemiev's "Forgotten Themes" date from a comparatively early phase in his career, and were composed (it seems) for film and television. Here, the dilemma resides in the reconciliation of commercial and musical priorities - these tracks succeed in striking a balance, with only an occasional resort to whimsy, although Artemiev does best when he has the time to stretch out and expand. The influence of "Exit" and "Tangram" period Tangerine Dream is seemingly manifest on some of the shorter pieces, but two longer compositions stand out by some way - "Realm of Shadows" lays Dmitry Kutergin's soaring violin above a minimal pulse in a manner suggestive of "Art Zoyd", and "An Autumn Breath" develops a Budd-like figure over eighteen bittersweet minutes. Both these pieces have a strongly "architectural" quality to them - listening to the former, I see the vaulted ceiling of a cathedral, whereas the latter evokes a cool courtyard, either Moorish or Californian, deftly intersected by running water. Is that where I was meant to be taken, and is it helpful for me to pass this on?

Norman Jope ("Stride")

Working under the banner of his own Electroshock Records, Russian synthesist Artemiy Artemiev has built up an impressive rack of releases which show a very individual artist at work. This collection brings together tracks recorded between 1988 and 2000 and covers a great range of EM styles as this demonstrates an increasing amount of experimental and atonal elements being incorporated into the music, often reminding me of Peter Schaefer's "FARN" works from way back. The opening "The Fan 1-2" (the theme from the film of the same name, apparently) is a quite superb piece with original synth sounds and massive guitar-like stabs sitting atop a flighty rhythm, slightly akin to Rudiger Gleisberg's works. This dates from 1989 and the tracks from the 70's are the most accessibly ones here, from the introspective melodic style of "Night City" and the similarly styled "Sand Castle" and "Where East Meets West" from 1988 all proving easy enough to get into. Not that these tracks aren't without their atonal moments and, as 1989's "Calvary" demonstrates this has become an increasingly important part of Artemiev's output as time has gone on. 1990 is represented by two tracks, the dark and rhythmically strong "The Last Waltz" which only justifies the tide during the last few minutes and another melodically pleasing piece in the shape of "An Evening in the Country". The 1990s has seen an increasingly experimental touch to the music, ranging from the offbeat violin atop the symphonic darkness of 1992's "Realm of Shadows" through a version of the American folk song (by a Russian, that's not something you see every day) "I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger" which reveals nothing of it's Yankee origins as Artemiev gives it a feel akin to Kitaro meets Cluster, if you can imagine that! 1997's "Space Distortion" is a completely dark melange of abstract sounds and noise while the 11 minute opus that is 2000's "An Autumn Breath" proves something of a chore due to a severe lacy of dynamics, variation on inventiveness. Starting with a simple two step bass motif and vibraphone style interjection it's ten minutes before anything of note happens and even that's just a slight bass and rhythm underpinning. The feel is like a modem take on blues but ultimately a waste of time, all of which just leaves "The Ending" in which Artemiy goes back to his Russian roots with an intensely melodic waltz piece, again featuring some original synth sounds and perhaps hinting that the artist put a lot of effort into programming his synths as well as producing the actual music. It pays off here which helps towards a track that stands apart from most EM albums being released today which might means it will come as a bit of a shock to many EM fans to maybe you'd better approach with caution.

Carl Jenkinson ("Sequences")

Excelling with recent albums, it seemed that Artemiy was progressing in the opposite direction of his father to more experimental music. So, when I first put this on, without examining it, I was a little startled. But, I shouldn't have been - the title's a clue - as this is a collection of soundtrack work and left-overs dating from 1988 to 2000. The opening Theme From The Motion Picture "The Fan I & II" is much like his Dad's Tangerine Dream meets Jarre with a bit of Vangelis, all wrapped-up in a pompous mood type thing. The following seven tracks all get more subtle, with the TD edge giving way to more unusual Roedelius textures, eventually getting real deep with track 8] Space Distortion (1997) and its twisted Lightwave feel. Next we have a classical piece with violin, then an 18 minute pianistic Eno-esque meditation. That section (tracks 8 to 10) is the best part of the album. I'm not so sure about what follows, however, and I don't think I'll dare to comment!

Alan Freeman ("Audion")

"Forgotten Themes" mainly consists of pleasant, rhythmic electronic compositions. If you enjoy the soundtrack music of Tangerine Dream then you will most definitely enjoy this CD. Standout tracks in my opinion are the moody spatial electronics of "Space Distortion" and the gloomy electronics-possessing grandeur of "Realm of Shadows". The sombre violin music on this composition makes the piece outstanding.

Robert Maycock ("Lockjaw")

Remember those early pioneering days of "Tangerine Dream", when they were nought but a name, with a few albums under their belt? Well, those early exciting days of electronic pioneering seem to be one of the mainstays of the "Electroshock Records" label. There's five newish releases out on Electroshock that underline the fact that this label is one of the leading ones when it comes to originality. I know there's some great labels out there who've moved on from these early soundscapes, but I like this stuff, and the more there is, the better. "Forgotten Themes" by Artemiy Artemiev, is their next release. Artemiy is the main man behind the label, and has released quite a few of his own work on Electroshock. This release would actually make a decent introduction to his music as it contains twelve tracks, all in fairly decent listenable bight size pieces. Although there's no info specifically about the pieces on this release, I know that a couple of them have appeared before on Electroshock, and others haven't. I also gather from the album's title that this is actually a collection of pieces. The dates of the music begins in 1988 and goes up to 2000. The range and mix of the tracks is astounding, from the moody ambient right up to almost dance! On the track "Where East Meets West" the guitar work of Aleksei Alasheev is very similar to Robert Fripp's. Some of the tracks sound similar to later "Tangerine Dream" with an almost European feel to them, others feature piano, where others go on an all out synth attack. Like I say, a cracking album that works well as a showcase for Artemiy.

David W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")

"Electroshock" is a previously unknown (at least to me) source of excellent avant-garde electronic and electroacoustic music. The label's founder, Russian composer Artemiy Artemiev, has released six solo CDs. Shifting timbral clouds shimmer above pulsing arpeggios on "The Warning" (1993). "Cold" (1995) glistens with sometimes serene, sometimes ominous aural environments. In "Down by the Footsteps Leading to the Abyss" on "Point of Intersection" (1997), Artemiy dips into a Middle Eastern vein with Hindu vocalists singing within electronic surroundings. We're magically and musically transported to Hong Kong, the Great Wall of China, and other Far Eastern destinations by "Five Mystery Tales of Asia" (1998). Clangerous collages of sound co-exist on "Mysticism of Sound" (1999). Guitarist Aleksei Alasheev, bassist Sergei Suleimenko, and violinist Dmitry Kutergin assist on a few tracks on "Forgotten Themes" (2000), which contains music recorded as far back as 1988 and ends with a delightful deviation: a synthesized Russian waltz. On each of his CDs, Artemiy skillfully melds awesome tones and stimulates a broad range of emotions. There's a rhythmic ebb and flow to his music, and I'm enchanted by it.

Mark Vail ("Keyboards")

Russian electronic musician Artemiy Artemiev returns with a collection of tracks (presumably unreleased) recorded between 1988-2000. Artemiy heads up the "Electroshock Records" label and is the son of composer and electronic music pioneer Edward Artemiev. I believe "Forgotten Themes" is his sixth release. Most of the CD features Artemiy's electronic compositions, but three tracks include Aleksei Alasheev on guitar and Sergei Suleimenko on bass, and one track features Dmitriy Kutergin on violin. "Theme From Motion Picture The Fan-I & II" opens the set, coming across like a symphonic power trio, with Artemiy handling the melodies and electronic percussion and Alashaev's guitar blaring out power chords. It also has a bit of a "Pink Floyd" circa "Wish You Were Here" sound, though while we do hear some Rick Wright keyboard lines and a bit of spaciness, Artemiy's keyboard style is far more orchestral. "Where East Meets West" is an interesting quirky tune that includes nice whining Frippoid styled licks from Alashaev. "Realm of Shadows" is a standout track on which the keyboards create an intense, pounding backdrop for Kutergin's violin playing an emotional melody. "The Last Waltz" and "An Evening in the Country" would appeal to fans of symphonic keyboard driven progressive rock. "The Last Waltz" communicates a powerful orchestral sensibility, but also includes traces of traditional folk themes. Artemiy also shows us he can travel beyond the Earth's atmosphere on "Calvary" and "Space Distortion". "Calvary" is a multi-layered piece that combines beautiful keyboard sounds and melodies with a healthy dose of freakier spacey sounds. And "Space Distortion" features rushing waves of space drones that weave their way through the cosmos, encountering a series of bangs, gurgles, and howls, and what sounds like screaming string sections. Headphones are needed to appreciate all that's happening on this gripping ride. Finally, "An Autumn Breath" is a lengthy track that I'm not sure what to make of. It's a slow piano piece that develops very little over its 18 minute length. There's a secondary piano line that's also slow, but along with snare-like percussion sounds almost jazzy. Dark and haunting, the track would work well if part of a film soundtrack, but as a standalone piece of music it went on a bit too long for this listener. But overall, this is a fine set of music that features the many sides of Artemiy's music making "Forgotten Themes" a good starting point for exploring his world.

Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovation")


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