Artemiy Artemiev: Review:  
(Electroshock Records 1999, ELCD 009)
04 tracks. Total time - 76:57

Continuing to straddle the line between modern classical and electronic influences, Artemiy's latest release finds him exploring the dark ambient side of classical music. Four lengthy sonic excursions onto the murky depths are presented, beginning with the stark "Pictures of I. Bosch and P. Bruegel" harkening back to his disk "Cold", the music has a definite chill, but it is also moving and beautiful, in its own dark way. The music unfolds very slowly, and may require patience form some listeners, though I think it will be rewarded. "Mysticism of Sound. Part I" starts with deep echoes, sounding the depths, followed by bone-chilling metallic percussions that jumps out at you. The feeling is dank and intense, as the music grows louder. Several layers of formless sound are joined by strange, unintelligible voices in the background. This is fascinating, brilliant stuff, but it may scare the hell out of you. This CD will go well alongside B. Lustmord and Robert Rich's "Stalker", not necessarily in terms of sound, but in terms of the fright factor. Part I of the title track remains intense throughout most its 27 minutes, letting up only for the last few as it winds down. If the description of the first two tracks intrigues you rather than scares you off, then you won't mind that things get even more experimental with "Cataclysms of the XX Century", filled deep pulses, assorted odd noises and voice loops. This piece intentionally keeps the listener off balance, alternating brief passages of noise with relatively sparse stretches in between, changing every few seconds. It somehow isn't quite as jarring as this sounds, but it is unique. The disc closes with "Mysticism of Sound. Part II", perhaps the oddest of the four. It continues the pulsing effect, but adds more random elements, sounding much closer to the modern classical, with hints of Japanese flavor. This is my least favorite track of the four, but it is still interesting, to say the least. Artemiev is an acquired taste, but his music has a lot to offer for those who like a challenge. You won't be bored.

P. D. ("Sequence")

Russian electronic music artist, Artemiy Artemiev recording, "Mysticism of Sound", is a moody, dark, and at times disturbing collection of ambient sound collages. Filled with moments of beauty and also terror, this is a CD for those who enjoy exploring the shadows where objects fade into blackness and the mind fills in the blanks. Using a vast array of equipment from Roland, Ensoniq, and Korg, among others, Artemiy weaves drifting minor chords and washes into a foreboding tapestry of noir images. The first song, "Pictures of I. Bosch and P. Bruegel" intermixes mournful synth choirs, muted bell-like tones, and smoky minor key synths, yielding the albums best cut. This is music with a subtle nightmarish quality, i.e. never out and out scary, but incredibly evocative and disturbing. The next song, "Mysticism of Sound, Part I" is more abstract, crossing over into experimental "musique concrete" at times, with loud crashes, distorted high-pitched wails, and underlying dark washes of sound. This one is definitely not for the timid and stands toe-to-toe with seminal works in the dark ambient field, such as Stalker and Heresy . At over twenty-seven minutes long, the song begs to be played in a pitch-black room, as long as you have nerves of steel (personally, I wasn't up for it - my imagination is too vivid!). Other elements in the song include muffled and distorted dialogue that, at times, resembles the buzzing of angry insects! I'm sitting here with the lights on, typing this review, and I keep looking around for a malevolent force to sneak up on me from behind. "Cataclysms of the XX Century", the next song, goes even further afield than the previous song. Odd percussion effects (clangs, alien-sounding rhythms) and bizarre electronics slowly intermingle with an undercurrent of bass synths. Sometimes the music is jolting in its intensity (quite loud too!), as the strange electronic sounds flash into your mind's eye like a crimson bolt of lightning. This can only be described as true nightmare music, the kind that one would expect to accompany a slow descent into insanity perhaps. By no means do I intend that as a criticism. However, in all honesty, while I appreciate how bold and adventurous this music is, it is way too dark and scary for me. I mean, this makes Stalker sound like a Jonn Serrie album! However, I love the way Artemiy layers these different textures. I'll bet on headphones this is a trip (and no, I wouldn't dream of listening to it that way!). The final song, "Mysticism of Sound, Part II" is lighter than the first part, but is even more abstract, blending sometimes discordant and arrhythmic musical elements, like a strange theremin-like tone, synthetic buzzes, and assorted percussive effects. Dare I say it, this song could, I suppose, be viewed as whimsical, in a Twilight Zonish way. Maybe the dance of some crazed marionettes? This recording is for all you people who think that most dark ambient is either too tame or too melodic. With the exception of the first cut, nothing here will calm you down - that's for sure. And, in my opinion, if you play this before sleeping, I hope you don't dream!

Bill Binkelman ("Wind & Wire")

"Mysteries of Sound" is Artemiy Artemiev's fifth and latest collection of eletronic compositions issued on his own, Moscow-based label. Previous CDs like "The Warning", "Cold" and "Point of Intersection" have all shown him to be an electronic composer of the highest water, whose talents have followed a constant upward curve in their evolution. However, last year's "Five Mystery Tales of Asia", the result of his travels in Mongolia, China and Japan and incorporating sounds from these cultures, indicated how far he has progressed since his debut in 1993 - the relative melodiousness of his earlier works now becoming invested with something heavier, more elusive. This trend continues with his latest release, "Mysticism of Sound". While this album could easily be slotted into the "dark ambient" genre, its subtle shifts of mood locate it far beyond a simple genre piece. The four long tracks seem to have subsumed the Asian influence while at the same time never reneging it. The opening "Pictures of I. Bosch & P. Breugel" is a sublime aural landscape shot through with dark, shifting undercurrents, a mirror held up to the work of the artists to whom the title refers; playful yet ominous. While one would assume that, given our history, a track with the title "Cataclysms of the XX Century" would be the most cacaphonous piece on the album, it is actually the half-hour long second track, "Mysticism of Sound, Part I", which roars and groans with the clash of swords and noise of upheaval. "Cataclysms... " is a collage-like documentary exploiting reverb effects and perhaps indeed telling the story of our sorry century; it reaches its resolution after a quarter of an hour with a quiet, meditative mantra, with a whimper or a sigh, not a bang. Finally, the second installment of the title track allows the Asian influence of "Five Mystery Tales... " to once again surface, this time dotted with percussive elements and electronic embellishments. Artemiy Artemiev has proven once again that he is an exciting and innovative composer who deserves much more exposure in the West.

Steven Fruitman ("AmbiEntrance"/"Motion").

"Mysticism Of Sound" is full of gorgeous atmospheric space drones. Powerful imagery for this listener, of actually being in the darkest corners of space. "Pictures Of I. Bosch & P. Bruegel" is an 18 minute space drone which develops very slowly, like a ship that's lost all power floating through space, led on its seemingly random course by an unseen force. Part I of the title track includes more space drones, but far more sounds and what seems like crowds of ghostly voices that ramble and groan without ever forming words. The atmosphere is dark and even a bit frightening. The intensity increases on "Cataclysms Of The XX Century" and the sounds consist of both machine-shop industrial clangs, bangs, and drones on the one hand, and shrill screams on the other. And Part II of the title track is the most experimental of the four cuts on this CD. Lots of freakiness and found sounds... abstract yet accessible, making this release my favorite of Artemiev's five solo CD's.

Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations").

I think Artemiy Artemiev's take on music is similar to Brian Eno's - music isn't just about melodies and choruses, the atmosphere or ambience is an equal factor in the composition. And in "Mysticism of Sound" we have ambience and atmosphere in full measure - and what a lush ambience it is too! The opening track "Pictures of I. Bosch and P. Bruegel" is a sound portrait of two very ideosyncratic artists. Beginning with a synth choir of heavenly voices it builds into a wall of rich sound, full of differing textures that languidly roll on like a spring river full of melted ice. The next track, "Mysticism of Sound Part I", is something very different, a huge soundscape carved out of the air, a cacophony of sounds and distant voices creating an aural cathedral of sorts. After the relentless thrust of the previous track "Cataclysms of the XX Century" is something of a respite, a much more spartan affair with jagged shards of sound rolling across the soundstage. The final track is "Mysticism of Sound Part II", is very different to Part I, rather more minimalist, again taking disparate sounds and rhythms and interweaving them slowly into something else. "Mysticism of Sound" is a very evocative album.

John Peters ("The Borderland")

"Mysticism Of Sound" is an ideal title for the album. Four tracks, the shortest is just under 16 minutes, with the longest at over 27 minutes. This is one of those albums that will reveal itself in many layers, and over a period of time, like a flower, it will open up. Mainly ambient, it flows and morphs through a landscape of alien scenes, haunting the imagination. "Pictures of I Bosch and P. Bruegel" starts the album. It drifts like musical mercury, relaxing and inspiring. "Mysticism Of Sound. Part I " drifts in at 27 minutes. Again, mainly ambient but the odd dash of percussion and odd vocal-styled backdrops give the track an incredibly unsettled and disturbing feeling - really powerful imagery, "Cataclysms Of The XX Century" is perhaps the most experimental and is a return to the original direction of the "Electroshock" ethos. Gaps of silence are blasted apart by wave upon wave of synth effects, gradually becoming more intense makes this the gem of the album. "Mysticism Of Sound Part II" concludes the album as a gentle and subtle piece. A piano style keyboard starts the piece with a percussive shuffle echoing into the distance. "Mysticism Of Sound" is definitely one of his best, and I would say one of the best on the label.

Dave W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")

This album takes the ambient blueprint of "Five Mystery Tales of Asia" and moulds it into four highly atmospheric pieces. "Pictures of I. Bosch & P. Bruegel" sets the tone of the album with lovely delicate translucent textures conjured from Artemiy's large collection of synthesizers. Once again, the style is very abstract and wrapped up in swathes of infinite reverb. The epic "Mysticism of Sound. Part I" (clocking in at 27:10) has his all important trademark undercurrents of unease running through heralded by ghostly metallic hits. The textures are very evocative and the mixes draw you into distant sounds making fuel for the imagination. "Cataclysms of The XX Century" is peppered with random busts of sound and ecoed percussion and is the most avant-garde piece of the set with some wonderful distorted violin bow effects adding eerie counterpoint. Final piece "Mysticism of Sound. Part II" uses ecoed percussion giving quite an industrial rhythmic effect. There are also far away koto like sounds that carry on the lineage that began with the previous albums' eastern flavour.

Richard Wileman ("AM" Magazine)

"Mysticism of Sound" sees Artemiev going it alone, and finds us on firmer footing. Four very long tracks appear on this solo work, obviously all quite lengthy and drawn out. Perhaps I am not in the right frame of mind, or not sympathetic enough with this genre, but little seems to happen here to move me. I know Steve Roach has some material along these lines (his "Quiet Music" series), and Artemiev seems to be going that route. The first two pieces drone on and on for almost 40 minutes. Attention to the possibility of activity on the music's interior went mostly unrewarded. On the second half some movement is stirred up to a greater degree. Cavernous and rumbling sounds enter the fray to render a more colored climate. As the CD moves on it picks up slightly. What I hear I enjoy but I need more substance going on, to lift this beyond the level of simply background sound. On a better day I might see the light. But if I had to make a choice I would without any doubt recommend the "Space Icon" collaboration Artemiev has done with Peter Frohmader as the place to start.

Mike Ezzo ("Expose")

The fifth solo album by Artemiy Artemiev applies a dense mist of sound, making you fumble your way through rich landscapes of unknown territories. The dynamics are extended, as compared to other Artemiev soundscapes, and maybe the title of the CD hints at the composer's intentions; to let us loose in this world of sensed horizons, probably harboring many an undetected being, be it earthly or of heavenly origin. There is something of a fantasy novel about this texture, like in some late books by Astrid Lindgren, the writer who, by not receiving the Literature Nobel Prize, has rendered that prize meaningless, without stature... I remember a film from my youth, where a cruel and deadly people lived below the surface, in caves and tunnels, and where an innocent and beautiful, but intellectually dormant people resided up in the daylight. I think the film was based on Herbert George Wells' "The Time Machine". I recall how this highly symbolic - on many levels - film impressed me then, and this Artemiev music on "Mysticism of Sound" gives me similar feelings. It's distant, probably distant in time - I mean very distant, and a whole new human race inhabits the worlds. The title of track 1 - "Pictures of I. Bosch & P. Bruegel" - furthers this impression of a timeswitch, taking into consideration these painters' pictured worlds, of good and bad, heaven and hell and the eternal dilemmas of human existence. Track 2 - "Mysticism of Sound. Part I" - brings other characteristics into the soundscape - more electroacoustical, more complex, more in the vein of sound poetry, with fast moving sounds on top of the slower sweeps, giving you the impression of voices, like they might have been heard on the reel-to-reel tape recordings of 1960's spirit-chaser Friedrich Jurgensen in Molnbo, Sweden. Harder, rougher electronic attacks associate this piece with the classical electroacoustic composers of today, like Pierre Henry, Ake Hodell and Jacques Lejeune, to name a random few. This is an interesting development in Artemiev's electroacoustical methods, bringing a deeper artistic aspect to the music, no doubt, making it viable even to those who prefer the traditional, classically experimenting electronic music. Track 3 - "Cataclysms of the XX Century" - brings this home even stronger, taking on a shape, even, of "musique concrete", which has been nurtured especially by composers in France and Canada. I can only congratulate Artemiev on this directional choice, and recommend him to keep on working in that direction! Track 4 - "Mysticism of Sound part II" - keeps the "musique concrete" character up, in a grand way, almost bordering on the subterranean Romanian spectral music of Iancu Dumitrescu and Horatiu Radulescu, utilizing what comes through as a Japanese koto! This is great music for the aficionado of sounds and electroacoustics, and I'm impressed at the development that Artemiy Artemiev has gone through in these short years since his first compositions showed up on CD. Keep on keeping on!

Ingvar loco Nordin ("Sonoloco Records Reviews")

This is Artemiy Artemiev's fifth solo release. This CD is a homage to composers and musicians who compose, create electroacoustic and/or electronic music. Four lenghty tracks (over 15 minutes each!!!) are in here. Let's start with: "Pictures Of I. Bosch & P. Bruegel". Highly minimal electronics with ambient, spacy undertones (recalls, at times, the German band "Intence"). We follow-up with: "Mysticism Of Sound. Part#1". A mixture of concrete/found sounds and synth (an atmospheric, mysterious, mystical piece). Then there's: "Cataclysms Of The XX Century". It features a good blend of voice samples, chants, concrete sounds (or maybe processed noise) and keyboards. The most experimental song. It's an apocalyptic sound voyage through doom, gloom, and cataclysms (of the twentieth century). Definitely a standout track, and my favorite one too. We conclude with: "Mysticism Of Sound. Part#2". An ambient piece with an atmosphere of deep mysticism. Another strong release. Recommended.

Francois Marceau ("Mastock")

Openly inspired by Eastern, and especially Indian, sonorities, "Mysticism of Sound" is a complex work in four parts, two of which constitute the two movements of the title track. Yet, it's not hard to recognise a certain unity in the entire record. Ambient misty soundscapes are interspersed with echoing ethnic instruments, often by voices, sometimes whispering and solitary, sometimes a crowd of entranced mantras, and by electronic accents, tending above all to give a special dynamic course to the compositions. Even the track named "Pictures of I. Bosch & P. Bruegel", though not revealing any Eastern influences, has the same process of drawing a surreal soundscape, just like those realised by those masters of painting. A good work, as Artemly Artemiav has already prepared us for special moments of mystical relaxation and meditation...

Fa ("D.L.K. The Hell Key")

The fifth release from Artemiy features 4 lengthy electronic excursions beyond this world. "Pictures of I. Bosch And P. Bruegel" is a journey to the heavens - tranquil ambient electronics and ethereal choirs which float upon the clouds. "Mysticism of Sound Part I" is an extraordinary soundworld of unearthly, awe-inspiring textures. "Cataclysms of the XXX Century" is the perfect music for the exploration of the unseen depths of the oceans. Dark, eerie and totally captivating. "Mysticism of Sound Part II" is a weaving together of electronic and electroacoustic music into a surreal soundworld full of experimental, avant-garde and unearthly sounds. All 4 tracks are phenomenal pieces of work. You really need to hear this release. Absolutely brilliant. Essential listening. Very highly recommended indeed.

Robert Maycock ("Lockjaw")

Shades of Klaus Schulze's "X" and visions of awakening from the Matrix -inspired AI sleepworlds -- this is excruciatingly perfect nightmare dronings. H. R. Gigerian, biomechanoid Liliths drag you beneath the digital mire and push your psyche through catacombs of ambient-noir. That was 17:42 of "Pictures of I. Bosch & P. Bruegel" swallowing you. The 27:10 "Mysticism of Sound. Part #1" is a bit more ethereal at the start but soon you realize you have wandered into Hell's abysmal industrial areas where monstrous entities babble and build the war machines of Apollyon's Apocalypse. Dismal, maddening, relentless, blackened avalanches of sonic horrors bury you alive yet your ears will bleed for eternity. Shrouded priests chant blasphemies of corruption to unearth you for track three. You stand shivering in the ice caverns of Lower Tartarus, awaiting the unknown. "Cataclysms of the XX Century" brings 15:40 of Schulze-induced/X-ian journeys through echo-bouncing, doppler-effected, alien technology displays of forbidden powers. Cyber-beserkers approach, massive piles of metal and throbbing light, they tower over you, screaming gears and deafening hydraulics threaten your last vestiges of humanity. You are assimilated into the final track. "Mysticism of Sound. Part #2" weaves 18:45 of Eno-esque eclecticism and minimalism with Schulze-like synth textures. A perverse koto-sounding, free form, plucking meanders through industrial occasional noise. Nowhere was the destination and was reached over and over. Morton Subotonick or an insane Nipponese android might enjoy this final track but for this reviewer it was so diffusely enigmatic as to be predictably boring. Tracks one through three are inspired but the outro piece was flaccid electronic whanking in the style of 1960's experimentation without lasting substance. Overall, I recommend this release strongly to those with a darker taste in 21st century synthworks.

H.P. Lovegraft ("Progression Magazine")

Russian composer, Artemiy Artemiev continues down the path of dark flowing ambience with this release. For the most part, he leaves behind his melodic EM and instead focuses on soundscapes and shifting drifting spaciness. The wandering of the sonic solar system is, however, tempered with some other elements. The track, "Cataclysms of the XX Century", for example, has leanings towards more experimental or avant-garde with its' harsher tones and industrial (and I mean the manufacturing not the musical genre definition here) feel. As the title might suggest, the piece builds into some panicky sections. The title track of this CD is in two parts and with the first part being almost a half an hour and the second part a bit over eighteen, the mainstay of the album is this song. Artemiev has used the four long tracks structure on other recordings, but having two movements divided by another piece makes it interesting to the ears. Both sections of "Mysticism of Sound" carry a bit of that industrial clatter found in the "Cataclysms of the XX Century". Yet there is still a current flowing through the work. Perhaps this is cyber-mysticism? I have just come across this recording, and I'm certain that Artemiev composed these pieces to be timeless, however, it is interesting to compare these tunes with music half a decade back to see where it stood then and where it stands now.

Loren Beacon ("Electronic Shadows")


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