Edward Artemiev: Review:  
(Electroshock Records 1999, ELCD 012)
13 tracks. Total time - 76:21

The Russian soundtrack composer Edward Artemiev's work is seldom easy to find. In fact, it can be downright impossible. That's why the release of this soundtrack compilation on Edward's son Artemiy's own "Electroshock Records" label is such a pleasant surprise. Included on this CD are selections from the films "The Mirror" (one cut), the classic "Stalker" (four songs and yes, this film is the same one that inspired the Rich/Lustmord recording) and the SF masterpiece, "Solaris" (six selections). In addition, there is a final song which is dedicated to the Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovskiy. The music itself is moody, dark, beautiful, foreboding, and even menacing at times. It's primarily electronic in nature, sometimes overtly so, but the emotional mood of the recording swings widely, such as on the first two cuts, both from "Stalker" - the opening neo-classical harpsichordish "Theme" to the ambient "Train" featuring minor key synth washes underneath a heavily dostorted recording of train wheels on the tracks. Other songs may remind you of Berlin-school EM because of the use of sequenced beats, but the CD is more atmospheric than most German electronic music, which it should be since it is soundtrack music and ought to have a strong visual component. "Station" from "Solaris" is appropriately spacy with weird synth effects that then morphs into a rapid-fire sequenced TD-like number. The one number from "The Mirror", "Exodus", is a spooky piece of ambient noir, with dark-as-night synths that build to a crescendo which can only be described as either terror or horror-inducing. This song is followed, rather dramatically, with another quasi-Berlin piece, "They Go Long" from "Stalker". Arpeggio synths race to and from as an underlying mournful synth lends an air of despair to the song. "Dream" from "Solaris" has swirling, droning ambient synths that are spooky to say the least. When the synth chorus (or is it real?) comes into the song, I dare you not to think of the Ligeti pieces from 2001! "Meditation" from "Stalker" uses a wooden flute to create an atmosphere of mystery and spirituality, while the background synths keep the song anchored in the realm of darkness. Over the course of the eleven-minute opus "Ocean" from "Solaris" you might hear hints of everything from the darkest Robert Rich to the more experimental ambient artists on the "Hypnos" label to some of the artists on Groove Unltd. e.g. Ron Boots or Hemisphere. Ultimately, though, Edward's music is not the least bit derivative. I only offer the comparisons above to paint you a sonic picture. Edward Artemiev is a true original and a powerful creative force and this recording illsutrates this easily. Frankly, I can't believe lovers of dark ambient or moody atmospheric electronic music passing on this. For one thing, the music is excellent, if not downright indispensable. For another, just the fact that this music has been released at all should make you grab your checkbooks. Hats off to Artemiy for getting this CD made. It's a veritable treasure-house of highly visual electronic music. It represents a look into the dark corners not just of the physical world, but the world inside our minds as well. If any CD deserved to be called a masterpiece, this is surely one.

Bill Bimkelman ("Wind & Wire")

Edward Artemiev is a legendary name in the world of experimental electroacoustics. One of its true pioneers, he was academically schooled in Moscow and then introduced to synthesizers in the form of prototypes constructed by mathematician and engineer Yevgeniy Murzin in 1960. Artemiev quickly mastered the medium and became one of the most original soundscape composers around - as he still is today. In the West, his name will always be associated with his trailblazing soundtrack work for three of the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky's films: "Solaris" (1972), "The Mirror" (1975) and "Stalker" (1979). "Electroshock Records" in Moscow (run by his son, electronic composer Artemiy) have now released a 76-minute compilation of the finest moments from these three soundtracks. Austerely packaged in a form befitting the visual world of Tarkovsky, this CD is the ultimate collection of these suggestive works, which seem not to have aged at all over the years. Tracks from the trilogy are interwoven to fine effect, creating a suite of unsurpassed imaginative force. These scores may just be the finest example of film soundtracking ever committed to disc, and the compilation is a fitting tribute to them, creating something new by combining the tracks instead of slavishly releasing them in their entirety on separate discs. Finally, the record closes with Dedication to Andrei Tarkovskiy, composed by Artemiev in 1989 in honor of his friend and collaborator, who died in Paris in 1986, aged 54.

Steven Fruitman ("AmbiEntrance")

Although Russian composer Edward Artemiev has provided scores for such directors as Andrey Konchalovsky and Nikita Mikhalkov, he is probably most feted for his work with Andrey Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky, like Herzog, Bresson and Godard, was at pains to avoid the usual programmatic emotional manipulation of Hollywood soundtracking while being aware of the importance and possibilities of film sound, and judging from his comments in his book "Sculpting in Time" was ambivalent about using music at all, preferring to concentrate on atmospherics and texture. Indeed though I've seen both "Stalker" and "Solaris" a number of times, I didn't really register the presence of much music at all, and upon playing the CD was convinced that these couldn't be the original soundtracks. And they're not, though you wouldn't guess it from the sleeve. Artemiev recorded this CD in the late 80's some 14 years after "Stalker" was made, and presumably has taken themes and ideas used at the time and expanded on them. Certainly the original music would have been constructed from much cruder materials than the often glossy digital textures on the CD, but there is still some stunning music here. "The Mirror" sequence, "Exodus" mixes Penderecki like strings with huge swathes of glassy digital synths, tympani, and piano abuse. It is a hugely powerful and emotionally charged noise. Artemiev was a pioneer of electro-acoustic music in 60's Russia and his ear for texture hasn't diminished with his move to more 'sophisticated' sound generators, unlike many of his contemporaries "Exodus" has a rarely heard physical presence that seems to propel the music out of the speakers and into every corner of the room, even at low volume. Most of the pieces are successful at capturing the moods of the films they spring from, but importantly work equally well as pieces in their own right, which I guess was the intention. "Stalker - Train" uses (unsurprisingly) a lolloping, treated recording of a train as its backbone, spinning off dubby pitchshifted ghosted echoes against a distant string synthesiser elegy. "Solaris - Dream" is a slomo frozen ambient drone, slowly opening out into a pretty scary melange of male choirs (again reminiscent of Penderecki/Ligeti and the music Kubrick used for "2001" - pretty fitting as "Solaris" was hailed as the Russian equivalent of Kubrick's film) and muffled shouts. "Solaris - Ocean" is an ambient wash streaked with clouds of synthetic strings. Some of the more obviously 80's synth sounds I had trouble with (there's only so many times you can hear the DX7 panflute preset) but Artemiev's harmonic sense (as on the lovely "Stalker - Theme", and the crystalline ambience of "Solaris - Earth") wins out, and on the ridiculously lush "Solaris - Listen to Bach" he achieves the kind of sonic Radox bath effect Tomita managed on his electronic reinterpretation of Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess", treading the thin line between beauty and kitsch. Some pieces maybe verge on the pompous and stray into late "Tangerine Dream" territory, which would seem at odds with the restraint and austere beauty of the original films, but those moments are easily ignored. It'd be nice to hear the originals too ...

Peter Marsh ("Motion").

Andrei Tarkovskiy (or Tarkovsky, depending on the transliteration) was one of the most influential Russian directors of the Cold War era. Among other films, he directed two renowned science fiction pictures: "Solaris" (1972) and "Stalker" (1979). This import CD showcases cues from both of these movies, along with a lone cut from a Tarkovskiy drama titled "The Mirror" (1974) and an extended memorial piece devoted to the famed filmmaker, who passed away in 1986. The scores for all three productions were written by Edward Artemiev (sometimes transliterated as Artemyev), who, during the 1970s, was one of the Soviet Union's leading electronic musicians. Each of the seven selections from "Solaris", including "Ill", "Listen to Bach (The Earth)", "Dream" and "Picture P. Brueghel 'Winter'", are epic and ethereal, often evoking a classical grandeur similar to the music featured in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". This is not inappropriate, as some critics have hailed "Solaris" as the "Russian answer to 2001". The four compositions from "Stalker" combine many ethnic elements and reveal a natural elegance fitting for such a pensive film. The movie's "Theme" spotlights a subdued choral component, and "Train" incorporates artificial noises that mimic a preternatural locomotive. The tune from "The Mirror", entitled "Exodus", offers an unusual electronic sound, while "Dedication to Andrei Tarkovskiy" subtly blends a variety of eerie effects into an engaging nine-minute opus. The liner notes are printed in both Russian and English, and include brief biographies of both Artemiev and Tarkovskiy. Manufactured in Sweden, the album is available through various soundtrack and electronic music specialty dealers in the United States and Europe. Although rarely screened outside Eastern Europe, numerous thought-provoking science fiction films have been produced in the Soviet Union. These pictures regularly feature political messages, which at times overshadow the visual and musical components. This superb CD isolates the tuneful elements from two important SF productions. For the "Solaris" cues, Artemiev fuses classical themes with electronic effects, generating an unearthly score. "Station" mingles reverberant tones with skittering noises, coalescing into an energetic theme that augments the fear and fascination invoked by the movie's haunted space station. The somewhat more organic, although no less hypnotic, mix of sounds in "Ocean" - soft, glistening notes and dark artificial echoes--evoke the beauty and danger of the living planet Solaris. The selections from "Stalker" are more diverse, hinting at the folktale-like nature of the story. Tender artificial bells resonate throughout "They Go Long", supplementing a series of undulating, enigmatic tones and making an appropriate accompaniment to a journey through the film's otherworldly "Zone". Meanwhile, a mock-tribal flute moans seductively above a somber synthesized background on "Meditation", generating a lonely, contemplative atmosphere. The occasional juxtaposition of discordant elements skillfully echoes the overall "faith vs. skepticism" theme of this allegorical SF work. Even "Exodus" is enthralling, mixing traditional film score motifs and classic "space rock" excitement in an avant-garde arrangement. In short, "Solaris", "The Mirror", "Stalker" is an outstanding sampler of Artemiev's exceptional cinematic creations. While his melodies aren't often heard in the West, folks who enjoy Artemiev's music should look for his superb soundtrack to "The Odyssey", a popular 1997 television miniseries.

Jeff Bekwitz ("Science Fiction")

This album is a compilation of music drawn from three Russian movies directed by Andrei Tarkovskiy - not having seen any of them I know of "Solaris" only by repute. The music here, composed and performed by Edward Artemiev, is mostly electronic and extremely evocative. "The Stalker Theme", which opens the CD, is very wistful and gentle and leads into "Train", which carries on some of the same themes mixed with the sounds of a train passing: the rhythm of the wheels clattering over the tracks brings on strong feelings of mystery and sadness. Being science fiction, the music for Solaris is very different to that written for "Stalker", much more ambient, and dare one say, spacey. The single track drawn from "The Mirror" score is rather more industrial and jagged sounding, and probably the track I liked least. The final track, "Dedication to Andrei Tarkovskiy", is a very impressionistic sound portrait/tribute to the film director himself. Rather than sequence the music from each movie in turn, the producers have mixed them together, creating a new series of moods not dependent on having seen the movies themselves. In turn this has created a fascinating and very listenable 'new' album of music that highlights just how good a composer and musician Edward Artemiev is.

John Peters ("The Borderland")

The re-release of this classic of electronic music is a true event. Russian composer Edward Artemiev, a pioneer among pioneers and a giant of the musical avantgarde far longer than the creativity of many composers tends to last, composed three memorable soundtracks for equally legendary movies: "Solaris" (1972), "The Mirror" (1975) and "Stalker" (1979). In them he set all his imagination to weave sound universes as disquieting as the plots of these films. Science-fiction in the most remote, most mysterious, most dreadful and at the same time most attractive of its shores, resides in all its splendor within this collection of tracks, complemented with a theme composed by Edward Artemiev in 1989 as a homage to movie-maker Andrei Tarkovsky, deceased in 1986, for whom he wrote the movie soundtracks gathered in this CD.

Jorge Munnshe ("The Amazing Sounds")

This album contains the most openly melodic selctions of the series with soundtrack music to three films by Russian filmaker Andrei Arsenevich Tarkovskiy which Edward scored. The opening "Theme" to "Stalker" is particularly tuneful with a wistful pipe refrain built upon a synth harpsicord backing. Elsewhere in the album, things do get darker and more abstract, particularly in pieces like "Dream" from "Solaris" where a possible inspirational link can be seen to Artemiy's work. This track has some superb vocal samples in it that, along with deft volume swells, create tremendous tension.

Richard Wileman ("AM" Magazine)

Edward Artemiev is a composer, synthesis! and avant-garde musician. He began experimenting with music synthesizers in 1960. This is a collection of film scores he has re-recorded for this album. I would think the most famous of his scores would be for Andrei Tarkovsky film "Solaris". Tarkovsky also directed the other two films represented here. I would assume these recordings utilize equipment unavailable at the time and sound vastly better (I saw "Solaris" roughly 15 years ago, but cannot imagine the music sounding this good.) Scoring for a film is not like writing music, the score is linked to the film, remove the score and it is incomplete. Artemiev must have has this in mind as he created this album, choosing the more musical pieces over the pure atmospheric. One thing I recall about "Solaris" is it is all atmospheres and what little enjoyment I got from the film was the creepy music. Considering when much of this music was written it is very modem; it reminds me of early Steve Roach or Michael Steams, where the music drifts and swells. His sound could also be compared to Vangelis. Only Artemiev's music is more dark (look at the film titles). The song "Exodus" from "The Mirror" is very similar to "Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs and Orchestra" (c'mon folks, that creepy music from "2001"). "Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker" - Music from Motion Pictures is a gem I never would have discovered. Now you know as well.

Dane Garlson ("Expose")

Edward Artemiev, father of Artemiy, is featured on the 12-th release from "Electroshock" ("Solaris. The Mirror. Stalker" ELCD 012). It's a compilation, of sorts, of music taken from three films Edward wrote the music for. "Solaris", "The Mirror" and "The Stalker". The first film "Solaris", if I'm not mistaken, is one of Brian Aldiss' all time favorite SF films. It's a very deep and subtle film that is best seen several times, as the first couple are spent reading the subtitles! The music reflects the moods, hopes, and fears of the people and situations incredibly well. What the album does, though, is split the films and the music up, so, for example, the first two tracks are from "The Stalker", then we get two from "Solaris", then one form "The Mirror", back to "The Stalker", then... You get the idea. In many ways this actually gives the album a whole new identity from the films, and rather than be just an audio document of film music, this mixing up of the tracks gives the album a new perspective. "The Stalker's" music is very brooding, and whilst I (don't think) have seen "The Mirror", or "The Stalker", the music is incredibly well structured and is some of the best stand alone music I've heard in ages.

Dave W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")

Edward Artemiev is a pioneer of the Russian electronic music, since he's been the first musician to have used the ANS. the first synthesiser designed by Eugeny Murzin, in 1960. During his long career, Edward has - among other things - composed soundtracks for many directors, and among them, one of the masters of cinema, Andrej Tarkovskiy. This record contains themes and music from Tarkovskiy's most important films: Solaris, The Mirror and Stalker, plus a final track, composed in honour of director's death, 20 years ago. Artemiev's music closely reflects the dream and hallucination scenes of the movies, full of floating but tight textures and ethereal lines, surely Influenced by the lesson of twentieth century classical avant-garde music, but with a particular melodic taste, played mostly by synths, but with some acoustic interventions too, as the sitar and the flute in "Stalker - Meditation". Fortunately, these tracks have their own life even without the support of the images, and are themselves enjoyable and wonderful soundscapes to let the mind wander wherever it wants. A good excerpt of contemporary music, and a great invitation to rediscover some of the greatest artistic achievements of these years.

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

Edward Artemiev is considered by many to be the pioneer of Russian electronic music. This CD features music from the films Solaris, The Mirror, and Stalker. "Exodus", the only track from The Mirror, consists of atmospheric electronics and ethereal choirs. A compelling mix of suspense and beauty. Of the 4 tracks from Stalker, "Theme" is light, airy, synthy ambience and ethereal choirs. "Train" didn't work for me as the serene ambience is overlaid with experimental sounds which I felt distracted from the beauty. "They Go Long" is floaty synth ambience, aided by an inspired Tangerine Dream 80's rhythm, and pan pipe sounds. "Meditation" is gorgeous, mellow, relaxing electronics. The tracks from the 1972 sci-fi film Solaris are mainly majestic, spatial ambient pieces of music, all of which are exceptionally excellent. "Return" with the additional ethereal choirs is sheer beauty. The floating ambience of "Winter" is breathtaking. "Dream" is awe-inspiring, unearthly sci-fi cinematics with menacing passages in places. This particular track reminds me of the moodier works of Klaus Schulze. The track composed by Bach has been electronically arranged by Edward. This consists of tranquil, spatial ambience and ethereal choirs. The beauty is quite breathtaking. The final track is dedicated to the filmmaker, A. Tarkovsky. Another piece of breathtaking ambient electronics. Without any doubt, what we have here is dignified soundtrack music of the highest order. Very much recommended.

Robert Maycock ("Lockjaw")

Edward Artemiev is best known for his electronic music scores to three of Andrei Tarkovsky's most striking films: "Solaris" (1972), "The Mirror" (1974), and "Stalker" (1979). Then it comes as no surprise that the music has been packaged and repackaged in various ways, official (including their first appearance in the mid-'80s on the Soviet record label "Melodia") or not. This collection remains the most extensive and best presented. First released by "Torso Kino" in 1990, it has been reissued on "Electroshock Records" (label of the composer's son) in 1999. The particularity of this album resides in its track list. Choosing against logic, it alternates pieces (or "scenes") from "Stalker" and "Solaris" - there is only one track from "Mirror". Artemiev likes to use one main theme for each film and develop variations around it. The fact that the "Stalker" tracks are separated from each other allows the listener a chance to forget the theme and not grow tired of it. The alternation also creates an interesting tension between the melodic material of "Stalker" and the much more spatial, ethereal soundscapes of "Solaris". The composer's music at the time was still strongly based on the one-of-a-kind ANS synthesizer (a photo-sensitive machine). It shimmers gracefully and remains a minor classic in film music and curriculum listening for science-fiction fans. The set concludes with "Dedication to Andrei Tarkovskiy", a piece recorded in 1989. Although more recent, it sticks close to the atmosphere of this album, adding an elegiac touch. Highly recommended.

Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")

An amazing story! Once I put in Edward's CD to my CD player, turned up a volume, pushed a start bottom...and my thoughts flew away...However awakening came fast, when the theme of "Stalker" began. Excellent music with classic motives hypnotized me so strongly, I was unable to notice the moment the track ended in. When I put my headphones, my impressions got even stronger! I dived into abysses of delicious electronic sounds and echoes. The themes were composed long time ago, but they have kept freshness and shining. We owe to "Electroshock Records" a lot for releasing "Solaris. The Mirror. Stalker" - the soundtracks for Andrei Tarkovski's films. I am very happy, I have got it ! A masterpiece to be heard !

Zenialowski ("ERP")

Edward Artemiev had the privilege of writing not one but three soundtracks for films by Andrei Tarkovskiy. This recording contains songs from these three movies. Surprisingly, they aren't divided into three sections, but rather mixed together. Even more surprisingly, this works very well. Often soundtrack recordings are not as cohesive as a regular studio release, but in this case the music seems to flow quite well. I have not had the chance to see all of these films, so I can't say if that's because of similar tone of the movies or not. "Solaris" was originally done in 1972, "The Mirror" in 1975 and "Stalker" in 1979, and it is a tribute to the compositional abilities of the artist that they don't feel more dated when heard today. It is, unfortunately, unclear from the cover how reworked or re-mastered these songs are in terms of their original recordings. For whatever reason, "Solaris" has the lion's share of the tracks with seven of them being from that film. Not that this is a bad thing, as my favourite pieces seem to be from that particular film. Of course, being soundtracks, the music must lean towards being background and not too obtrusive or the audience won't be pulled into the visual aspects of the story. Obviously, the intent of film music is to create an atmosphere without drawing too much attention to itself. As such, these songs are gentle and dreamy with the occasional dramatic moment.

Loren Beacon ("Electronic Shadows")


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