Electroshock Records: Articles:  
Dwight Loop & Darren Bergstein: "Replicant Russian Rockers"

Artemiy Artemiev boldly flaunts the "Electroshock" of the new - and the cream of Russia's underground - in the carrier current of his label's subversive enterprise.

Is diversity the mother of invention? It might very well be should such an observation be leveled at "Electroshock", as its recent crop of releases can attest. Artemiev's guiding principle for the label might have begun from a direct lineage to the German godfathers ("Tangerine Dream", Klaus Schulze), but he soon disavowed himself of the Berlin school in favor of arch experimentation, compositional grandiloquence, and a markedly complimentary way of working with collaborators to achieve the optimum denouement.

On point: Artemiev's style is only intermittently baroque, but when in cahoots with gothic duo "Karda Estra", the results are positively sublime. As forces joined in "Equilibrium", this unlikely collaboration fends Artemiev's classical, orchestral electronics melding with the darker ambient (and very English) stripings of "Karda Estra". To the musician's credit, they move outside the channels of their individual equilibriae, especially on "The Teller of the Tale", a dreamy excursion wherein Artemiev's textures find space around the metallic guitar echoes of Wileman and Bailey's texturally rich, ambient, multi-chorused voicings. Experiencing "The Curtain Falls" widens further the ear to Wileman's contemporary classical woodwind arrangements, set amidst a cascade of synth and guitar glissandos that effectively bring the house down.

Peter Frohmader has upped the gothic ante on more than many occasions, though he covets H. P. Lovecraft rather than Anne Rice. Paired with Artemiev on "Transfiguration" culminates in perhaps "Electroshock's" finest collaboration. Comparable to Frohmader classics such as the monstrous "Homunculus" or his recent "Fossil Culture" (with Richard Pinhas), these two electronic titans battle it out for control of the universe. "Transfiguration. Parts I-IV" works majestic, mellotron strings and flanged vocal samples into pitchblack proto-ambient, exercises reminiscent of Schulze in his trancier days. However, the iconoclastic 29-minute tour de force "Transfiguration. Part V" rips holes in the fabric of space - it sounds as if the duo's keyboards were satanically corrupted by the Old Ones themselves.

Not to be outdone, the grand master and papa Artemiev, Edward, is given the referential treatment via a "greatest hits" of sorts titled "Three Odes". No soundtracks here, just a seven-part "Ode to the Herald of Good" composition, written for the 1980 Olympic Games, and performed in conjunction with singer Gennadiy Trofimov, rock group "Boomerang", a classical ensemble called "Melody", the State Orchestra of Cinematography and the State Moscow Choir. This is bombastic, patriotic electronic rock-testosterone music to inspire Soviet athletes, perhaps? Many moods prevail: "Phantom from Mongolia" combines traditional Mongolian melodies with artful electronics; "There & Here" shines out some classical, synthesized mood music. Unassuming, to say the least - nothing here remotely compares to the epic soundtracks that "made" Sir Edward. Better to revisit "Solaris" or "The Mirror" for a true glimpse into his heart and soul.

True to "Electroshock's" m. o. of releasing music by little-known indigenous musicians, Stanislav Kreitchi's "Voices and Movement" revels in its atypical merging of drone, classical, and attractively misunderstood "industrial" genres. Featuring the vintage ANS synthesizer and the Ovaloid, a metallic soundsculpture, Kreitchi shows why he is a true pioneer of Russian electroacoustix. On "Four Fantasies", Kreitchi's field recordings, warbled along distorted zones of pitch and timbre, undulate with a creepy dissonance, while "Ruins in the Waste", an ebony landscape of grim, atmospheric tones, assaults, titillates, and burnishes the senses. This is electroacoustic music at its most vivid - Kreitchi renders his circuits flesh.

There are six stages in the Tibetan "Bardo", a meditative passage charting the lifeline from the beginnings of existence to its finality, Oophoi, aka Italian composer Gianluigi Gasparetti, reduces "Bardo" to four with this impressive, contemplative work. Layers of gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, minimal percussion and ethereal voices cascade over wave after wave of ambient electronics. Each section is aptly titled for its innate mood and resulting emotional states. Oophoi is a zen master of the drone - hidden in his dense mix lies a singular, visible thread of sound that requires surrendering completely and utterly to its stark brilliance. "Bardo" urges its recipients to bask in this meditative glow, to consider the new age long after the trashing of the New Age.

On "Fastgod: E-psalms", Anatoly Pereslegin plumbs a combination of strings and murky electronic organ in the creation of a neo-classical work as equally transfixing as his earlier "Download The God". This is operatic, sacred new music inspired by the Book of Psalms and features stellar performances by tenor Ivan Jmaev, baritone Yuriy Valenkov and the cellist Alexander Zagorinskiy. "Religious" is too confining a boundary for these apocalyptic fugues: hardly casual "church" music, despite the obvious tropes (organ, string synthesizer, harpsichord, bells, etc,), this is the stuff of dream as it dissolves into nightmare, the refrains sung by angels damned to question the might of the Christian archetype. Leave the lights on - and the bible in the drawer.

Two gifted Moscow-based musicians, Valery Siver and Kiryll Trepakov, meet together on a haunted "Midway" to work their highly-strung magic across the minimal expanses of disque plastique. Working frets fired up to accommodate the acoustic and the electronic, the two occupy a space cohabited by the patter of minimalist beats, spirit textures, subterranean reverberation - abstract sound art unimprisoned by a frame. Siver, whose accomplished melodic/ harmonic sense has even found its way into the Russian underground remix arena, blends his technocratic guile quite palpably with Trepakov's knack for "classical ambience" It's a mindmeld, a mishmash, and it's miscast - and frontal lobes be damned that the ear acclimates. Renege the cliches; opposites attract.

Dwight Loop & Darren Bergstein ("E/I" Magazine)


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