Electroshock Records: Review:  
Valery Siver & Kirill Trepakov: “Music from the Russian Pages” (Electroshock Records 2010, ELCD 056)

12 tracks. Total time - 58:23.

This is an album where contemporary music and Russian literary tradition come together into one art form. Valery Siver and Kirill Trefakov’s “Music From the Russian Pages” takes its musical invention from the work of a variety of Russian writers and their poems and novels. So if you are a student of Russian literature then this album is most definitely for you - the writers include: V. Nabokov, A. Pushkin, Boris Pasternak, M. Gorky, N. Gogol and many more. Musically speaking, this is a very interesting and listenable album, it mixes avant-garde and experimental with music that is cinematic in scope - it even encroaches on pop, rock and electronica at times (check out “Patterns” and “Childhood In The USSR” to see what I mean). Which makes for a very enriching listening experience. Valery Siver composed the music and plays piano and guitar, while Kirill Trepakov arranged the music and played bass, keyboards and the electronic treatments. If I was a well read person I would, of course, be familiar with these Russian authors and could say whether these musical pieces actually caught the essence of their work. I can’t because I have never read any of these authors books, but I feel they would be proud to be the source for this music. “Music From the Russian Pages” is certainly one of the most listenable of the current new release crops of albums (along with those of Edward Artemiev), and probably the most approachable to ears not used to the sound of experimental music.

John M. Peters ("The Borderland")

It would be difficult to overstate the contribution and influence of Russian writers and poets to literary history. “Music from the Russian Pages” is the second collaboration between Valery Siver and Kiryll Trepakov for the “Electroshock Records” label. The theme of the album seems to be either homage to, or questioning of, Russian literary figures. Each of the 12 tracks is sub-titled “on the motives of…” some writer. For example, “Games of Time” is followed by (on the motives of V. Tumo’s manuscript “The Watchmaker”), and “Synesthesia” is followed by (on the motives of V. Nabokov’s works). You get the idea.
               Utilizing guitar, piano (Siver), electronics, keyboards, and bass (Trepakov), the musicians have created of set of instrumentals that are spacey, jazzy, ambient, and electro-dance influenced. Among my favorite tracks are “Russian Troyka Parts I & II”. Part I features simple but entrancing guitar patterns, electro beats, and well placed percussion and scratching effects, while Part II features more of the same but picks up the pace, being a cosmically mind-bending dance instrumental. Another highlight is “The Fetters of Reality”, again in two parts. On Part I we have classical piano plus short wave radio static and alien electronics. The radio static becomes increasingly assertive as the piece progresses until finally overtaking the piano. Part II continues this theme but has a spaced out drum’n’bass vibe. The other stand out track for me is “Thin Ice”, which is a cool combination of simple pleasant melodies and freaky, but not in-yer-face electronics and sounds from nature. In the last minute it transitions to guitar and soundscape ambience that brings the piece to a close.
               Overall a very pleasant set of instrumental music. I like the way the musicians combine conventional guitar and keyboards melodies with somewhat experimental electronics and dance beats. And the excellent sound and production on this album really enhances the listening experience.

Spaceman33 (“Aural Innovations”)

With music composed by Valery Siver and arrangements by Kirill Trepakov, “Music from the Russian Pages” is a fascinating collection of themes near to “new instrumental music”, based on Russian literary texts. The music, though rich in melody and harmony, is far from conventional, especially due to the imaginative use of electronic instruments and the treatment of sound given to each one of the tracks, including effects that enhance the personality of each theme. The result is a kind of music that succeeds in attracting the attention of the listener from the very beginning, and besides it is capable of transmitting feelings and sensations in a remarkably powerful manner.

Pascual Jurado (“Amazing Sounds”)

Ambient drumming, loopy guitar explorations, and wide-angle synthesizer landscapes dominate this CD - perfect wallpaper music for your workplace. But like the best music of this genre, it has plenty to offer if you turn it up and listen deeply to the grooves. Like Eno’s Music for Films”, the electronic aspects of the music mesh with sparse accompani­ment from more conventional-sounding instru­ments. On this record, however, there are more guitars and some live drums supporting the groove. Scratchy retro samples noisily wind their way into your consciousness, and Siver’s expressive guitar loops keep things moving.
               Each track is inspired by a piece of classic Russian literature. “Russian Troyka, Part I” (from N. Gogol’s poem “The Dead Souls”) has an irresistible drum loop groove while “Patterns” sounds loungy; fans of Klaus Schulze and Peter Baumann can appreciate the meshing of a space-inspired theme with a jazzy lounge theme. “Thin Ice” is based on guitar harmonics, while Holger Czukay’s sampling approach is emulated on “The Fetters of Reality”. The most dance-oriented song is “Russian Troyka. Part II” with its infec­tious hip-hop beat and world music sound that approaches “Massive Attack”. The Mellotron on “Syn­esthesia” creates a cloudy mood before switching to a childlike synth-pop attitude on “Fairy Tale”.
               The overall CD is very good and differentiates between sampled and actual drum sounds. Fans of Steve Tibbetts, “Tangerine Dream”, Brian Eno, Tomita, or Jean-Michel Jarre might want to consider purchas­ing this record.

Jeff Melton & Scott Steele (“Expose”)

Russian musician and composer Valery Siver is from Saint-Petersburg and Kiryll Trepakov is a 32-year-old musician and audio producer from Moscow. “Music from the Russian Pages” references ten classics of Russian literature. Without a single word being spoken or sung, this is all melodic instrumental music; a blend of Jean-Michel Jarre-like electronic music and piano or guitar-based new age music, plus an occasional noise element in the shape of disturbing electronic pollution. It surely embodies the “Electroshock Records” formula, the formula of a label interested in electronic music in all its guises, from the most experimental to the more traditional.

(“DWM” Music Company)



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