Artemiy Artemiev: Review:  
Artemiy Artemiev: "Time, Desert And A Sound" (Electroshock Records 2004, ELCD 038)

05 tracks. Total time - 79:20.

Artemiy Artemiev offers us a masterful album inspired in the vastness of the deserts. Through the five themes of the CD, the listeners can easily recreate in their imagination the desolate landscapes of The Desert, the adventures, sometimes tragic, that its explorers experienced, and the atmosphere of those regions. By skillfully utilizing synthesizers, the composer creates arid textures, mysterious, near to "ambient", in the most unsettling parts of the work. Other passages could be labelled within the "electroacoustic music". There also are some touches of "world music".

Edgar Kogler ("Amazing Sounds")

After a slew of duo CDs with the likes of Peter Frohmader, Phillip B. Klingler, Christopher De Laurenti and British group "Karda Estra", Artemiy Artemiev comes back to solo mode with "Time, Desert and a Sound", five years after "Mysticism of Sound", his previous solo release. Artemiev is a master of "Ambiguous Ambient": you are never sure if you should file him under "new age" or "electroacoustic music". The distinction is even more blurry with this album. The music has more bite than on previous efforts. Artemiev makes more use of computer treatments, dragging his art away from "new age" keyboards and closer to experimental electronica. The atmospheres are dark, disquieting, with growling sub-bass drones, eery throat singing and echoing "swooshes" and "thacks". "Beyond the Bounds of Reality" strikes the imagination in a typical Artemiev way, but amplified. The listener is led through a desolated landscape that still bears the traces of human activity (a voice here, the sound of metal being pounded there). The triptych formed by the tracks "Time", "Desert" and "A Sound" comes closer to the composer's previous solo efforts. "Desert" features the contribution of guitarist Valery Siver, which gives the piece a friendlier mood. Vocalist Miroslav Rajkowsky is heard in "A Sound", the album's most powerful piece. The disc concludes with a 36-minute live performance of "Mysticism of Sound, Part II" with Siver again at the acoustic guitar, played like a sitar or koto. The piece is the most digital-sounding of the set; it features gritty electronic textures and layers upon layers of drones. It might not surprise listeners who have been following the experimental laptop scene, but Artemiev's followers are in for a cultural shock - a healthy one.

Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")

Artemiy is the son of Edward, the famous Russian composer, so well known for his film sound tracks and his compatriot Tarkovskiy. Today, the prodigious son puts out his 7th solo album, explicitly titled "Time, Desert and A Sound". On the edge of ambient atmospheres and film music, Artemiy justifies once again his reputation of a super talent of the new electronic scene in Russia. During almost 80 minutes, the man from Moscow paints a huge picture of the isolated imaginary steppes, somewhere between Mongolia, and Siberia. Thus he creates long pieces of music, processionals, develops hypnotic atmospheres, sometimes deathly-showing a strong influence of pagan religions. Amazingly suggestive, this work plays with ease on the duality between contemplative drones and abrasive textures, showing contrasts between minerals and metals. An excellent album of the future, "Time, Desert and A Sound" reaches to the summits of introspection reached by people such as Vidna Obmana, Forrest Fang and Steve Roach. We should note that Artemiev is accompanied on 2 of the 5 pieces on the CD by the nostalgic guitar of Valery Siver.

Olivier Lehoux ("Solenoide")

Russian composer Artemiy Artemiev is a master at shaping frightening soundscapes using spine-chilling timbres. He occasionally sprinkles a ghostly melody amid cacophonous drones that ebb and flow throughout "Beyond Bounds of Reality." "Desert" begins with soft tones accompanying Valery Siver's introspective acoustic guitar work. The electronic timbres grow ominous, spurred by industrial banging and clanging, and the racket overwhelms the soothing guitar. It regally resurfaces for a short time before succumbing to the storm, gloomy bells finally tolling its demise. Miroslaw Rajkowsky contributes weird vowel sounds to Artemiev's dirge-like "A Sound." Siver returns for the 36-minute "Mysticism of Sound. Part II," which was recorded live and abounds with more of Artemiev's end of-the-world tonal assaults. Not recommended for the meek or impatient.

Mark Vail ("Keyboard")

As with many of his albums, Artemiy Artemiev's "Time, Desert And A Sound" (ELCD 038) begins with an oriental soundscape, this time the opening track "Beyond Bounds of Reality" sounds as if it is portraying the great steppes of Siberia, with what sounds like a Mongolian throat singer vying with flutes, choral loops floating over a bed of synths. This track is both highly atmospheric and restful, a feature that continues with the next track, Time, which suggests a cosmic spaciousness few other musicians can create. "Desert" is another mellow track to start with - acoustic guitars (courtesy of Valery Siver) lull one into a false sense of peace before some ambient/industrial sounds slowly take over the soundstage for a while before the guitar returns to bring some sort of peace again, finally fading into a single church bell slowly tolling. "A Sound" is a lengthy piece, nearly seventeen minutes long - a lone drum beats out a simple, almost mournful rhythm while a variety of sounds (buzzing synths, the return of the throat singer, various atmospherics) unfold slowly. This is another one of those tracks that is enhanced if you close your eyes and relax, letting it just wash over you - a strong sense of timelessness is your reward. The final track is "Mysticism of Sound. Part II", a thirty-six minute live recording from Artemiy's Euro-Siberian tour last year. This reprises the track from a previous album of the same name, but in an extended format, and encapsulating all of the musical signatures that identify Artemiy Artemiev's music: glacial clarity of sound, inventive use of regional ethnic influences and samples and a sense of spaciousness that pushes loudspeakers to the edge.

John Peters ("The Borderland")

There isn't a better title than "Time, Desert and a Sound" to describe the music of the latest Artemiy Artemiev release. Since the first minute you're wrapped by warm sounds of flutes, hissing pads, hums of unknown human nature (the sound it's the same of the Buddhist priests when they pronounce "OM"), far percussions, etc. The atmosphere is kinda magic and the effect doesn't vanish on the second track "Time". The five tracks of the CD are like long suites linked one to the other because of the similar sounds used and also because the similar atmosphere of the whole CD. Here and there you can find also some kind of melodies but they seem to come out from the wind and in this way you can't tell exactly how they sound like. Sometimes the atmosphere gets darker and when you arrive at the third track the sound of an acoustic guitar lights for a moment the ambiental effect created before. This doesn't lasts that much, because after a couple of minutes chaotic sounds based on pads and metal percussions start to join the dance dueling with the guitar. The following "A Sound" and "Mysticism of Sound. Part II" are two long and hypnotic suites with light changes and play with tension creating moments where acoustic and synthetic sounds textures form a web of sound which sometimes sound too static. If you appreciate ambient experimental music and you like to be caught by hypnotic sounds, this CD might interest you.

Maurizio Pustianaz ("Chain D.L.K.")

Artemiy Artemiev's blend of electronic music may seem to belong to the same musical trend that first appeared in the beginning of the seventies in Germany: "Faust", "Agitation Free", "Amon Duul" (as in the Marylin Monroe Memorial Church), or the first "Tangerine Dream". Although the musicians in these bands had all sorts of very different musical backgrounds they had in common improvising electroacoustic music and choosing arcane or mystical titles for their experimental tracks. Like these German pioneers, Artemiy likes long improvised tracks and musical experimentation using a large palette of sound with all sorts of exotic timbres, flutes, electronic bronze bells, echoes, wind noises, chimes, etc. But he has a different approach of his own personal way to build sound textures and to spread them in great big waves. His latest album "Time, Desert and a Sound" is his seventh solo effort with 5 tracks: "Beyond Bounds of Reality", "Time", "Desert", "A Sound" and "Mysticism of Sound. Part II (live variant)". The titles show Artemiy Artemiev's preoccupations and are recurrent themes in the composer's music. Previous records were centered around Asia or the desert ("Five Mystery Tales of Asia"), the mysteries of sound ("Mysticism of Sound") or a otherwordly concerns as in "A Moment of Infinity" (Artemiev's collaboration work with Phillip B. Klingler). The record opens with "Beyond Bounds of Reality", a track well put together and quite representative of Artemiev's style. The second track "Time" is very static and less convincing. In the next track, "A Sound", everything falls into place: a simple but evocative percussions ostitnato, tibetan chanting, deep space rumblings, electronic noises, a strange piping synthesizer sound. All these elements create evocative an mysterious piece of music. The last track "Mysticism of Sound. Part II" was recorded live. The studio version was release in 1999. Although the music is improvised and seems to be some sort of sound collage, it quickly appears, when comparing two versions, that in fact Artemiy uses and plays the same collection of sounds and patterns in both versions. In the live version of his CD he has dramatically extended the piece to 37 minutes when the studio version was 18. Artemiev's music might seem difficult or at least demanding and is certainly not to everyone's taste. But this said, after hearing these pieces for a while, these sound textures made of many discrete elements start to get blurred and acquire an abstract quality -in a way comparable to abstract painting. The sounds seem spread around in vast sonic environments which become alive and fascinating. And why not, this is maybe in the end ambient music in the true sense of the word?

Daniel Biry ("London Cinematic Composers")

Samples of ethnic flutes, harmonica, processed voices, found sounds, and dark electronics build a scene of emptiness and solitude in the foreboding cinematic audio-imagery of the opener "Beyond Bounds of Reality", where Artemiev carefully controls the pace and intensity. Perhaps for the impa-tient it overstays its welcome or moves along too slowly, but once the listener settles into the journey, it prepares for all that follows on this, his seventh solo release. Straddling the boundary between floating ambient, electroacoustic, and industrial sounds, this seems to bypass the more typically electronic approach of some of his recent material ("Forgotten Themes" and "Five Mystery Tales of Asia" both come to mind) and picks up where his earlier "Point of Intersection" left off (or perhaps his collabo-rations with PBK). There are several collaborations here, the first being "Desert", where Valery Siver contributes a beautiful acoustic guitar piece to the onslaught of whirring sounds, crackling, random metal crashing against metal, and other unidentifi-able sounds that make up the industrial backdrop, in turn making it one of the discs most interesting pieces. "A Sound" evolves along a slow repeating rhythmic theme, with whirring buzzing electric sounds alongside Miroslaw Rajkowsky's harmonic overtone vocals, as the piece moves through por-tals, evolving as it goes. The 36 minute closer "Mysticism of Sound. Part II (live version)" again features Siver, although this time his guitar is more muted and microtonal, breathing within the fabric of the pees All taken, another masterful sonic adventure from Artemiy Artemiev.

Peter Thelen ("Expose")

From the opening moments of Artemiy Artemiev's latest effort, the images of arid desert and stifling heat are brought to life, though Artemiy does so within the context of a larger spacey Middle Eastern influenced landscape. The front cover depicts a broken down fence in the desert and on the back we see a lone camel. But as I closed my eyes I envisioned a stream of Bedouin nomads traversing the desert, while a harmonica melody blurs the image with its sensation of American cowboys sitting around an evening campfire. And enveloping all of this is a huge wall of droning ambient sound that defines Artemiy's electroacoustic focus as didgeridoo sounds and flute blend with the electronics. "Time" continues the theme of dusty isolation but with a looming alien presence. The ambient waves and swirls are so powerful it's like a massive mothership is hovering mere feet above our heads. And sure enough... before I know it I'm abducted and goodbye Earth! Single note bass lines rumble through my brain, giving a mule kick that shatters my senses. The attention to sonic detail on this album is stunning and only 2 tracks in I'm thinking this may be one of Artemiy's finest works to date. "Desert" is a collaboration between Artemiy and Valery Siver who contributes acoustic guitar and guitar synth. The track begins in a more peacefully melodic and uplifting mode, though it soon shifts toward the gripping, ominous feel of the previous pieces. In fact, things get even more high volume and intense as Artemiy adds chaotic clattering sounds and explosions, blending avant-garde experimental bits with rushing ambient waves and Siver's guitar melodies. I love the contrasts. "A Sound" is a nearly 17 minute combination of meditative mantra chants (voice courtesy of Miroslaw Rajkowsky) and drones, plus additional layers of ambient and alien sounds and percussion. Artemiy excels at bringing together multiple contrasting elements into a seamlessly cooperative whole. Finally, "Mysticism of Sound. Part II" is a 36 minute epic track recorded by Artemiy and Valery Siver during their summer 2003 Europen-Siberian concert tour. Siver's guitar work fits so nicely with Artemiy's high intensity earthquake sonics and sound-art pandemonium. But in contrast to the melodic acoustic guitar on "Desert", Siver plays in a spacey avant-garde free-improv style, and we even hear bits of trippy Blues. The piece builds steadily though the intensity level is high right out of the starting gate. Percussion is heavier on this piece than the rest of the CD and only adds to the power of music. In summary, this is a powerful album with lots of creative variety and a sense of pure passion that will keep the listener intrigued and attentive throughout. Definitely a highlight among Artemiy's many releases.

Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")

The pieces documented on "Time, Desert and a Sound" are often fascinatingly built and directed, but they are constantly led down by the timbre of the sounds Artemiy utilizes. On compositions like "Beyond the Bounds of Reality", the elegance of Artemiev's writing is hamstrung by his reliance on an overly proscribed and inscriptively small sound palette. There's a sense that the artist hasn't interacted with the latest developments in other fields, unwilling to stay appraised of the work being done by other practicioners. It's a shame. As it renders some of Artemiev's more fascinating pieces hard to reach, as though you're having to plough through waves of "signature sound" to get at the core.

Jon Core ("Grooves")

Artemiy Artemiev is the son of Edward Artemiev, composer of those classic Tarkovsky film scores, and father of "Electroshock Records", one of the most vibrant electroacoustic labels anywhere. "Time, Desert and a Sound", taking up all but forty seconds of the eighty minutes possible to fill on a compact disc, is his sixth solo CD. Joined by Valery Siver on guitar and guitar synth on two tracks (including the live, thirty-six minute "Mysticism of Sound, Part II") and Miroslaw Rajkowsky?s Mongolian throat-song on "A Sound", Artemiev has, with his electronics and samplers, crafted an extraordinary album as organic and implacable as weather. While comprised of five sections of varying lengths, it plays like a continuous suite. Heavy weather is conjured forth, autumnal weather, when the smell of the earth is rich and the woodsmoke curls slowly toward the canopy of gray cloud just overhead. The gently beseeching vocal of "A Sound" over a strummed guitar and softly beaten drum has a shamanistic quality, an incantation imprecating the storm to cede, or perhaps to finally arrive and cleanse the landscape. "Mysticism of Sound, Part II" is the live version of a piece appearing on his 5-th solo CD, and is rich in both electronic debris and Asian influence, a burgeoning interest of Artemiev's evidenced on his last few recordings. There is a darkness in this music, there is something speaking of a vast emptiness, of the lack of human presence, as if the landscape itself creates the music, as landscape indeed sometimes does. It is a ghost symphony. Though brilliantly conceived and executed by a someone very much alive. And flourishing musically.

Stephen Fruitman ("Sonomu")

From the label title you would expect the genre of electronics, but here the ambient music has a more distant feel. The "Desert" can be a cold place as I found out last year and the five instrumental passages exhibit a marked impression of isolation. So this may not be to everyone's taste but the textures are indeed fascinating on the opening track "Beyond Bounds of Reality" and it's quite relaxing on the ears. "Time" is not so easy on the mind as you are lulled into a false belief of almost MOR music by the first instrumental. Its not always remote as Valery Siver plays the guitar and guitar synth on the third track "Desert". The acoustic guitar passages are completely normal within the guidelines, but the somewhat chaotic background sounds like a mixture of pandemonium in the kitchen and ambiences. It actually is very good despite my inadequate way of putting the music into words. "A Sound" features a simple chord guitar chord placed on a noisy background with flute type notes appear to soar above the monastic style harmonisation. The strident, ever present notes vary in intensity and at times violently assault the hearing system. The completed version, a live variant of "Mysticism of Sound. Part II" is a long complex involved piece that is not for amateurs. At just over 36 minutes, the repetitive sounds are assembled in a way to form layering, which is stripped down to prevent the wall of sound approach and requires quite a bit of mind stamina to survive the finale. It is rather sombre at times and perhaps should not be heard whilst feeling a little depressed. This is not for the feint hearted and only trained persons should attempt playing this CD, but for those who can, the rewards are to be experienced.

Brooky ("Modern Dance")

"Time, Desert and A Sound" are three of the five titles on this new album by Artemiy Artemiev from Moscow. The CD comes five years after "Mysticism of Sound", his previous solo release and is probably his darkest effort. The music is so minimalistic, that its become cold and creepy. Desolate landscapes and a burning sun are formed with sound structures that are relaxing at one point, scaring at others. The different sound layers bring a lot of variety through the CD and a beautiful acoustic guitar gives it an extra dimension. Every time there could be something new to discover just behind the corner. This disc is another milestone in ambient experimental music with hypnotic sounds. The last track is a live performance of "Mysticism of Sound. Part II" of more than half an hour.

Peter-Jan Van Damme ("Darker Than the Bat")


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