This latest album, like Artemiy Artemiev's "Forgotten Themes", is a compilation of unreleased tracks spanning the years 1975 - 1996, and as such chronicles the exploration, evolution and technological restraints of electronic music in Russia. The album opens with the powerfully anthemic "Out There Where", which certainly shares the same grandeur you will find in Vangelis's movie themes. The lengthy "I'd Like to Return" follows: it's a collision of styles, ambient throbbings, industrial crashes and howls, samples of voices and orchestral timbres. Experimental and not the most approachable track to face. "Ritual" has a church-like ambience, a deep echo and portentous chords - it packs a lot of atmosphere into its three minutes! Indeed, the album has a strong science fiction feel to it, with tracks such as "In the Nets of Time", "Noosphere", "Touch to the Mystery" all having a cosmic feel to them. Despite the variety of recording dates, there is a futuristic cohesiveness to the album that makes it fitting that it is released in 2001 of all years - one just wonders where the monolith was... The overall feel of all ten tracks on this CD is of ambience, whether by treating conventional instruments electronically or by using synthesizers to create a library of new sounds. The ambience is crystaline to the ear, bright and laden with cosmic echoes, pastoral one moment and gratingly industrial the next. "A Book of Impressions" is an album that needs to be explored over time - it doesn't offer instant gratification for the listener, but there are riches here waiting to be discovered.
John Peters ("The Borderland")
Russian composer Edward Artemiev is mostly known for his soundtrack work on movies like "The Odyssey", "Stalker" and "Solaris". "A Book of Impressions" collects pieces recorded between 1975 and 1996. All are keyboard-based electronic music and have been re-mixed for this release. There is a lot of ground covered, from the 17-minute epic "Peregrini" dating back to 1975 to the shorter, less bombastic tracks of the 1990s. "Out There, Where" opens the CD vehemently only to resolve to a softly stated theme. The album contains two stronger tracks, each a movie in its own right, the 1987 "Three Regards on Revolution" and the aforementioned "Peregrini". There is stunning beauty to be found within the drama unfolding in the former. The latter belongs to progressive electronic music and fans of "Tangerine Dream", Synergy and Peter Frohmader will appreciate. Sound quality is consistent from one track to the next and the whole album has been prepared with cohesion in mind.
Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")
"A Book of Impressions" presents one of the widest lexicons of timbres I've ever heard gathered on one CD, and Edward Artemiev's consummate skill in using them is also harnessed to strong melodic awareness and the ability to create coherent, yet challenging and surprising compositions. The ten tracks reveal a range of parallels, from the Ligeti of "Lux Aeterna" and "Requiem" ("Noosphere") through to the Frohmader of "Medusa" and "Homonculus" ("Ritual", "Intangible"). The two most interesting tracks, however, are probably "Three Regards on Revolution" (a heady blend of avant-garde montage and melodic electronica, inspired by the French Revolution) and the final piece "Pregrini" - this starts off with a hyperactive sequencer break, as in Tangerine Dream's "Through Metamorphic Rocks", and gradually opens out into a lyrical passage comparable to Michael Hoenig's "From the Northern Wasteland". When one considers that this piece pre-dates these others, having been composed in 1975, one can grasp the measure of Artemiev Senior's achievement.
Norman Jope ("Stride")
Unless Artemiev is the Russian equivalent of Smith it's a fair bet that this chap is related to Artemiy and this is another album bringing together tracks recorded over a long period of time although Edward goes even further back in time with two tracks dating from 1975 and one from 1976. In keeping with most Eastern Bloc EM I've heard (which isn't that much, admittedly) this music mixes melodic and abstract elements although often Edward doesn't actually mix the two styles but rather goes out on a limb in either direction. The opening "Out There Where" is a good example of this as, after a somewhat cacophonic opening (recalling some of Vangelis' madder moments, actually) it begins to resemble the beginning of the old "Star Trek Theme". Eventually it builds into a grand symphonic finish, again reminiscent of the Greek maestro. The sheer exuberance of this music will make your heart soar! Compare and contrast, if you will with "I'd Like to Return" which follows it (on the album not chronologically-mere are five years between the two which might explain a lot!) which is a dark abstract piece, employing a kind of 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach to sonic manipulation. The mood is lightened somewhat by the cosmic chords and glissandos that appear as the piece progresses. "Ritual" is most aptly titled possessing an atmosphere so dark and claustrophobic it will send shivers down your spine and bring you out in the coldest sweat imaginable. The demonic female voice only adds to this feel as do the massed sepulchral choirs that bring the piece to it's compelling conclusion. "Three Regards on Revolution" is another abstract piece with an almost impenetrable wall of sound initially taking centre stage. Throughout the piece ebbs and flows by way of some manic jazz drumming and more unusual but very effective synth sounds. A short, serene section quickly loses it's innocence and mutates another dark and menacing finish by way of dominant bass piano stabs and dark choirs. "Touch to the Mystery" is a shorter straightforward cosmic piece while the even shorter "In the Nets of Time" starts promisingly enough with a punchy bass-line but due to it's brevity it changes very little and seems a bit pointless, as if Edward couldn't be bothered to do anything with it Similar comments apply to 'Intangible' which appears later. An almost dark, slightly rhythmic piece, it starts, goes through the motions and finishes, end of story. "Noosphere" dates from 1975 and is a dark apocalyptic nightmare given form. Oh, it's cosmic alright but not the nicely nicely cosmic so beloved of most American musos, no, this is dark, disturbing and needs to be approached with caution. "Mirage" is another total contrast as it's mood is light and rather carefree, due in part to some rather off the wall synth leads that join the fray later which are typical of that 70's freest manner. Now, normally any EM dating from 1975 would result in spontaneous combustion due to over excitement in your average EM fan but this is Russian so anything can happen.... and usually' does. In this case a heavily intense opening with massive rhythmic sounds and massed choirs make for an pleasingly overwhelming sensation. Once again the music shows a very individual musician at work as the music ebbs and flows through several section, from heavily rhythmic orientated to quiet and abstract The latter sections do show a more teutonic outlook with some standard sequencer work but this is mixed with slight rhythmic interjections to make for an individual take on the established formula. Having said that, most fans will be pretty comfortable with this. The operatic lead gives the piece a rare dynamism that is appealing and the percussive exploits become more and more forthright as the piece continues until it collapses in on itself, only to be born again until the inevitable conclusion is reached. The mixed bag of styles to be sampled here means that this won't please everybody but music that's as adventurous as this deserves to be heard.
Carl Jenkinson ("Sequences")
Re-mixed and re-mastered in 2000, this "book" of music was recorded originally from 1975 throughout to 1996. An amazing scope of vision, and elements. This is "ambient" music is borderline classical, not necessarily the classic music we might think of with Russia but more of a Philip Glass meets the Mahvishnu Orchestra effect. Some truly moving atmospheres, and a literature of landscapes. "Out There, Where" (1988) 05:02 - Just like the 80's best in this genre, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, etc. etc. With great anthems and composition. Could work well as an introduction piece for a Techno/Industrial DJ. "I'd Like to Return" (1993) 11:30 - As the name and title of this track suggest, expect a long journey into space, and a feeling of longing for the things taken for granted. This is well crafted piece, and not for parties, or for introducing to potential new girlfriends, but it is very unique, and constructed similar to the noise loop, energy ambiance found in certain Psychic TV, Hafler Trio, pieces... "Ritual" (1991) 03:25 - Shorter yet just as powerful, the ritual can get lost in the mood of the previous track, yet this is more classic example of ambient. Still experimental, but more straight forward. "Three Regards on the Revolution" (1987) 13:31 - Another long escalating piece. It is very rare to find the emotion and energy present here. This again is a borderline piece of classical composition, but with some of the most fantastic samples, loops, and instrumentation. More than worth the 13 minute ride which seem to end too soon once you get comfy with the track. Superb, I hope more Americans will here this and wish they had not waited 14 years to do so. "Touch to the Mystery" (1993) 03:25 - There is a way in the ambient world to replicate the sound of water, or very deep things, like wells, or vast stretches of ethereal matter. This song is the epitome of that discovery, and in some ways, feels even longer than the previous track. Maybe it just made me feel lonely? Nice touch! "In the Nets of Time" (1993) 02:31 - Starting with rhythmic content, this is reminiscent of the Pink Floyd classic "Time", yet not as rock'n'roll. More electro-industrial. The works of the song all click or moving like that if a world clock. Very recommended! "Noosphere" (1975) 09:55 - Once again, the dating of this for 1975, does not seem to matter, the new production, or added value to this make it timeless and classical. There are no seems from the previous more upbeat track to this calmer mood. "Mirage" (1976) 05:22 - As much as many of the previous tracks have been about vastness and desolation, this track is like sparkling running water near an Earthbound oasis... Take a sip, or just sit by and watch the shimmering reflections. "Intangible" (1996) 03:06 - ... and possibly inconceivable, you'll have to figure this one out yourself!!! "Peregrini" (1975) 17:10 - Set the controls for the heart of the sun, and don't forget the hyperdrive.... This finale leaves you feeling a bit 'played' with as rhythmic content and synth lines collide in an emotional piece of art. The ambient middle work, with samples of deep voiced commentary brings this piece together nicely. This is truly a combination of all the processes so far. Bringing you a new respect for the artist, and the command for the synthesized instruments that he has. Once again the comparisons to Vangelis, and Tangerine Dream are possible, yet the date of 1975 might suggest that those guys might have this piece in their personal libraries already. I only wish I had sooner myself....
Rev. Alexavier S. Strangerz ("Satrvox")
The Granddad of Russian electronic music, working in almost every field imaginable, this collects works from 1975 through to 1993, with as wide range of styles as the ten tracks on the disc. We unfortunately have some of his upbeat kind of Tangerine Dream gone bombastic themes (as heard in some of his recent soundtrack work), which is a shame as the majority is more dark, weird and spacious. This is the type of stuff Edward does best. Which reminds me, I wonder if anyone will ever reissue the real "Solaris" soundtrack that I have on LP? That is superb, and I'd love to hear it without the crackles!
Alan Freeman ("Audion")
Opening with the over-dramatic and pompous orchestral and electronic filmic music of "Out There, Where". "I'd Like to Return" consists of moody avant-electronica, marred in places by the avant-garde touches which distract from the music. The track finishes in a heavenly and tranquil ambient climate. "Ritual" is impressive moody electronics, possessing grandeur, with distant thunderbolt crashes and ethereal choirs. "Three Regards on Revolution" starts off excellently with glistening electronics, heavenly choirs and chiming bells. The beauty is then destroyed by clashing electronic noises. A rhythmic drum enters to change the proceedings of this lengthy piece. Then over dramatic orchestration with a speedy electronic rhythm takes over. This long eclectic piece finishes with mellow electronics slowly building in stature with choirs, into dramatic, but not overpowering, soundtrack electronics. "Touch to Mystery" is a beautiful piece of tranquil, arcane electronic music. Filmic suspense is created on "In the Nets of Time" by the use of rhythmic electronica, sweeping classical strings and bubbly electronics. "Noosphere" consists of windswept electronics and ghostly choirs. The choirs turn ethereal halfway through. Eerie yet beautiful. Mellow glistening electronics journey skywards to the heavens on "Mirage". "Intangible" is a short piece of moody electronics in a filmic suspense vein. The final track. "Peregrini" is an epic 17 minutes in duration. Fast, dramatic, speedy (racing) electronic rhythms which in parts include ominous choirs. Then a gloomy Russian voice, heavenly choirs and dark electronics change the pace of this composition. These flow into mellow, rhythmic electronics with breathtaking ethereal choirs to finish this lengthy piece of music in fine style. "A Book of Impressions" has some quality compositions but is let down by a few mediocre pieces.
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. The next release, is the turn of Artemiy's old man, Edward Artemiev, with "A Book of Impressions". Edward is no stranger when it comes to film scores and the like. Edward seems, in his work, to inject more of an orchestral feel to his music. This release is a perfect example. Sinister, brooding and at times hellishly powerful, this, as the above release, would appear to be a gathering of different pieces. Edward, however, has pieces going back to 1975. Again, as with the above release, it's a great place to sample his work as there are a total of ten tracks, but the depth and variety of these pieces is too broad even for this humble mag. At times there's echoes of Vangelis and Jarre, but this is only a reference point for the reader as there's just so much more. The main emphasis does seem to be more on the orchestral, albeit in electronics, but it allows a lot more conviction to be had, and it doesn't come as a surprise to hear why Edward has such an illustrious career in film composition. "Out There Where", "Touch to the Mystery", "Noosphere", and "I'd Like to Return" are fascinatingly rich and evocative, the rest are just brilliant.
David W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")
Russian electronic musician and composer Edward Artemiev is probably best known to the world at large for his soundtrack work on several Andrei Tarkovsky films ("Solaris", "The Mirror", "Stalker"). However, Artemiev's film credits in his homeland are extensive and, having begun his explorations into electronic music in the early 1960s, is renowned for his pioneering work in the field. "A Book of Impressions" compiles several tracks (previously unreleased I presume) recorded between 1975 and 1996. Artemiev's music is truly symphonic in that he succeeds in reproducing the capabilities of a full symphony, utilizing the wonders of electronic musical technology combined with his own impressive compositional skills. Vangelis' film scores are a good analogy. But what really struck me while listening to "A Book of Impressions" is the variation of styles... from large majestic symphonic works, to dark, subtle, yet highly thematic pieces, to more experimental compositions that demand the listener's attention. The set opens with "Out There, Where", on which Artemiev brings out the full electronic symphony, percussion, horns, and all. I think we take for granted the sounds that are reproduced by synthesizers and close listening reveals a startling replication of the sounds produced by "real" instruments. But there's also the gorgeous sympho keyboards that we know so well from progressive rock musicians. "Ritual" and "Touch to the Mystery" are interesting spacey ambient tracks. "In the Nets of Time" is a spacey piece with waves a sequenced patterns and a pounding industrial drone. "Noosphere" features flowing waves of ambient spacescapes and drones and is much more subtle in its development than the other tracks on the album. "Mirage" and "Intangible" each include similar ambient spacescapes but are embellished by bubbling trippy synth sounds and grand, prog-rocky keyboards. But it's the lengthier tracks that are the highlights of the album, due to the Artemiev's talent for developing themes that entrance the listener. "I'd Like to Return" opens as a dark atmospheric piece. But soon a parade of sounds march through giving the music a more avant-classical sound, including voice samples, brief percussion runs, trippy space synths, and much else. Things get very intense as I felt like I was being blasted through a time warp or swept into a black hole, the pace of the music racing off into the stratosphere with a rush of percussive sounds and electronics... only to abruptly descend into a peaceful, heavenly realm of meditative music and angelic choirs. An excellent track that succeeds on the compositional level, in the use of sound, and thematic development. "Three Regards on Revolution" has heavenly New Age music combined with Artemiev's more avant-classical leanings and embellished by swirling space synths. Things get a bit intense and there's lots of synth sounds that inject a welcome space freaky element to the music. But the music on this 13 minute track soon evolves through multiple themes, from symphonic classical, to quietly meditative, changing the mood of piece continually between bright and dark, intense and subdued. Finally, at 17 minutes, "Peregrini" is a true symphonic space epic that combines ambient space, progressive rock, and classical. Sometimes dark, sometimes majestic and uplifting, the music moves seamlessly through its varied themes with lots of spacey patterns that recall the very best of bands like "Tangerine Dream" and Vangelis. And noting that this track was recorded in 1975, it's clear that Edward Artemiev stands tall among those electronic progressive pioneers. Fans of the genre would do well to explore his work, and "A Book of Impressions" is a solid starting point.
Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")
"A Book of Impressions" is a collection of pieces recorded by Edward Artemiev during the 1975 - 1996 period. The album starts with "Out There, Where" from 1988. The atmosphere of grandeur is strongly felt here and overall the sound reminds on some of Vangelis' work on "Direct". The melody is top-notch, by the way. Then comes "I'd Like to Return" (1993), the first part of which features abstract harsh noises and then comes a very calm and peaceful section with subtle synthesized choirs and pads. The contrast works extremely well here. The only other artist I can think of, that uses contrasts so effectively, is Klaus Schulze. A great track! "Ritual" (1991) is a short piece with low drones forming a mysterious melody. "Three Regards on Revolution" (1987) has three different sections and is also very strong piece. "Touch to the Mystery" (1993) is a small mysterious piece, while "In the Nets of Time" (1993) is a rhythmic sequencer number. The track is a bit too short. "Noosphere" (1975) is one of his mid- seventies masterpieces, very ambient. "Mirage" is a warm, spacey piece reminding of Vangelis and Kitaro. "Intangible" (1996) features wailing guitar sounds over strange rhythmic backdrop. We finally get to "Peregrini". The track was recorded in 1975, but it seems that some new sounds were added during re mixing. The basis of the composition remained intact, though. It starts with fast tribal rhythms, then cosmic effects and strange voice reciting and after the prolonged intro - yes, you guessed it - a sequence appears which drives the rest of the track along. The track is one of the masterpieces of Electronic Music, right up there with Schulze's "Timewind" and Tangerine Dream's "Rubycon". To sum up: a very diverse collection, but extremely enjoyable. Highest recommendations!
Artemi Pugachov ("Encyclopedia of Electronic Music")