3 tracks. Total time - 73:18.
“Xenophobia” is really hard core electronic “avant-garde music”, the sort of thing that “Electroshock Records” have championed for many years. Anatoly Pereslegin is an uncompromising composer sound sculpturist, using huge megalithic washes of sound and volume to create sound installations to rival anything that nature can create. There are three tracks: “Kiss White Dwarf”, which could well be the soundtrack to the birth of a white dwarf star for all I know. A neighbour I played this to described it as the sound of teeth being pulled out! It certainly is an unyielding, raging soundscape of sawtooth electronic aural ferocity. “Rape Quantum” may be slightly milder, but only slightly - a slowly undulating wave of white noise lasting twenty-seven minutes. Finally, “Heteroemergency”, a monolithic amalgam of the previous tracks, lasting twenty minutes, and probably destroying your speakers by the end. I can’t say that “Xenophobia” is comfortable listening - it encapsulates to an absurd degree the noise that permeates our lives, the electronic wash from billions of mobile phones, wi-fi transmitters, radio and TV, and of course computers. It is a unique, twenty-first century sound that has frightening consequences for the future of humanity.
John M. Peters ("The Borderland")
“Xenophobia” is defined as a fear of foreigners, or other races and cultures. Perhaps in the context of this work, it could mean races alien to the planet Earth, as it sounds about as alien as you can get, and is sure to alienate the “average Joe” listener.
Anatoly Pereslegin is a Russian avant-garde artist of some renown (at least in Europe) and has an association (and several releases) with the “Electroshock Records” going back to 2000. Some of Pereslegin’s other releases have included symphonic and orchestral elements and have been more accessible than “Xenophobia”, which is pure noise. Well, the vast majority of it is. I don’t often encounter noise releases that are as brutal and uncompromising (throughout) as say, “Merzbow”, but this is certainly one of them.
Since the Noise music genre encompasses such a wide spectrum of form and style, it is necessary to define what we are dealing with here. First Drone - a constant, linear wave of sound devoid of any rhythmic properties. Not all drones are pleasant or ambient in nature; some drones (like the sound of a swarm of bees) make for uneasy listening. This is the type of drone we’re dealing with on “Xenophobia”. As for ambient, the traditional use of the term applies to background music or noise; a sonic environment that serves as atmosphere rather than the focus of attention. “Xenophobia” is more along the lines of noise pollution rather than ambient in the same way the sound of a crackling campfire may be construed as ambient and the sound of a firestorm is not. In order to be ambient (at least for me), the sonic environment must be tolerable (and likely even enjoyable) over a lengthy duration. This is an aesthetic that perhaps not everyone will agree with, but for me, is necessary to establish. If I were to call this release “ambient”, someone might get the impression that the sonic environment of “Xenophobia” was subdued. It certainly is not.
Unless you’re a real pure noise enthusiast, you are likely to have stopped reading this review and moved on by now. With that in mind, the rest of the review is for the purists. I have often wondered what it is about the harsh noise genre that attracts listeners to it. It is easy enough to understand the artists’ motivation in making musical statements, but listening to unpleasant walls of sound is no easy task. It seems like more an intellectual exercise than an emotional experience. For me, I prefer Noise music with a variety of sonic events, or changes over time. Sometimes there can be a bit of subtlety to the process, but it’s difficult to be subtle when the predominate character of the music is a harsh sonic environment.
“Xenophobia” consists of three lengthy pieces, ranging from about 21 to 27 minutes each. There is little respite in any of these pieces. They are all made up of complex electronic drones and squalls that carry on throughout each. The first piece, “Kiss of the White Dwarf” begins with a drone that sounds like the previously mentioned swarm of bees. There is some pitch variation, other waveforms and harmonics that join in, some LFO oscillation modulation, ring modulation, and white noise elements. There is a subtle undercurrent of orchestration, but it is really subtle and sporadic. The piece wavers in intensity where at times only the (filtered) white noise element is present. The mix of pitches is interesting to a degree as it seems to flow seamlessly. The tonality and texture of the composition morphs over time. Frequencies are mostly in the mid-range, although there are lower and higher frequencies introduced at various points over time. The piece has an ebb and flow which is an interesting aspect, but in a disturbing way. None of the sonic events are enough to hold your attention, but like a train wreck, the music allows for no distraction either.
“Rape Quantum” is the toughest listen on “Xenophobia” (and longest track too), as it is a thick plume of noise often as screechingly uncomfortable as fingernails scraped across a blackboard. It is as uncompromising as it gets in the harsh power noise genre with varying degrees of intensity; a seemingly relentless oil plume of noise pollution. 27 minutes is definitely an endurance test. The last piece, “Heteroemergency”, doesn’t seem radically different than the other at first. However, there is more variation in sonic events still subtle to a degree. At about the eight minute mark the sonic barrage calms down to a dull roar for a bit as steamy white noise washes over the wall of sound. Then, it just stops for a couple of seconds. (What’s up with that?) It seems as though a new piece begins mid-track shifting tonality with interplay of random sub-sounds that may or may not be orchestral elements. Eventually it homogenizes with a series of modulated drone tones in the mid-to-upper frequencies and becomes a bit choppy. This piece is an extremely challenging listen, not just because of the harsh nature of the music, but because of all the elements going on. It's like a noise symphony. The one thing that disturbed me about all three pieces is that they just end, not fade away. It seemed odd.
I hesitate to make a comparison with Anatoly Pereslegin’s “Xenophobia” and any other artist or release in the noise genre; it would be selling it short, and perhaps put it in an unfair perspective. Sure, I could site “Merzbow”, “Conure”, Karkowsky, or even Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” for its uncomfortability factor, but the fact is, “Xenophobia” is quite different than all of them. It will test you listening stamina in more ways than one. For me, this is not a pleasurable experience, but I can appreciate the artist’s intent and effort. So this is a difficult CD to rate. If you’re really into noise music, give it an extra star and a half. If you’re not, take away three stars, you just won’t like it. One thing is certain; “Electroshock Records” seems to be on the cutting edge of unusual electronic releases and now that they’ve ramped up their catalogue, you’re sure to be hearing more about them and their artists in the near future.
Steve Mecca (“Chain D.L.K.”)
“Xenophobia” is Anatoly Pereslegin’s fourth release for the “Electroshock Records” label and consists of three tracks ranging in length from 21 - 27 minutes.
“Kiss White Dwarf” opens with a combination of noisy and spaced out electronics. This mixture of harsh and alien elements pervades throughout the piece, functioning like multiple competing coils rapidly spreading out to ever increasing lengths. A pulsating, throbbing, screeching, droning exploration. What keeps the music interesting is that it’s not overly dense. I enjoy noise excursions if the artist employs, and my brain can discern, disparate elements, and Pereslegin has made a distinction between the components he’s manipulating. “Rape Quantum” picks up where “Kiss White Dwarf” left off, though as a listening experience we’re in considerably more rugged territory. Pereslegin is in full assault mode and at times I imagined a swarm of bees attacking, and at others a massive battle in space. What’s interesting, though, is the almost orchestral nature of the piece. This is harsh stuff indeed, but Pereslegin has structured it like an ear-piercing avant-garde electronic symphony. The cacophony continues on “Heteroemergency”, though Pereslegin draws back from blitzkrieg mode a bit. The electronics are still harsh, and at times more dense than the previous tracks, but it's still got that noisy symphonic quality that kept my attention throughout “Rape Quantum”.
“Xenophobia” is a departure from Pereslegin’s previous three albums, both thematically and musically. The word is defined as the hatred or fear of foreigners or a foreign culture, which seems to stray from the Biblical themes that characterized his previous releases. I didn’t have time to revisit those albums but re-reading my reviews I had made references to Keith Emerson, Vangelis, “The Residents”, Laurie Anderson, “Tangerine Dream” and “Ash Ra Tempel”… wow, none of that here. What is common among the four albums are the symphonic elements, though Pereslegin is clearly experimenting with new directions.
Spaceman33 (“Aural Innovations”)
Anatoly Pereslegin takes us to an underworld of hellish machinery, electronic screams and sonic erosion in the three long themes which shape this album. Characterized by very dense atmospheres of violent electronic sounds, the three flow along areas bordering “dark ambient” and “industrial noise”. The resulting music, slow but very aggressive, can easily evoke hellish factories full of sparks and smoke, in the imagination of the listener, low-level flights over lakes of molten metal, or high voltage electric towers channelling unearthly energies in an uncontrolled manner.
Jorge Munnshe (“Amazing Sounds”)
Anatoly Pereslegin is a Russian musician, sound engineer and architect. He has worked with many rock groups and is the founder of the “Pink Floyd”-influenced band, “Moebius Dogs”. Anatoly makes very noisy, conceptual, long electronic music. “Xenophobia” features three works, 20 to 27 minutes each, all made using the same mold: continuously screeching high frequencies, evanescent low rumbles. Sounds are long and stretched out, the music is ambient yet violent, changing yet static. The music is very disturbing, to say the least, which is of course a positive thing. This is really startling stuff and certainly worth a listen. Reminiscent of the work of Zbigniew Karkowsky.
(“DWM” Music Company)