Electroshock Records: Review:  
Alexander Volodin: “Unfinished Journey” (Electroshock Records 2010, ELCD 054)

5 tracks. Total time - 72:14.

Here we have a genuinely interesting and unique release by Electroshock Records artist Alexander Volodin who has become a decorated musical veteran in his twenty nine years on earth. This, his latest, entitled “Unfinished Journey” is itself, quite the journey. It begins with a three part section that grips you right from the start, not in a jarring edge of your seat thrill ride way, but in a more compelling, and must-know kind of way. Not only is it noisy, but at times its folkish, jazzy and explosive. He approaches his compositions in some very unique and exciting ways, keeping even the slower parts fresh and invigorating. Beautifully uneasy textures and tones twist and evolve so that even by the end of even the first piece, you're ready for whatever may come next. The noteworthy “Saxophonia” spans the reaches of beautiful, well thought out lines to droning to unapologetic noise all constructed from the smooth, vibrant sounds of “you guessed it” the saxophone. It is an eccentric and inspiring interpretation of a classic age-old instrument. While it’s three predecessors focused mainly on particular sound sources (i.e. sax, the lute’s cousin the dorma, and even a faucet), “Silver Thread” sets no boundaries for itself and it shows. From groaning vocals to violin to bass to synth to guitar to just all types of orchestrated noise and even the random melodic interval, it is yet again a masterful work of art. “There, House Stood” is an all out soundtrack to insanity. At times even evoking qualities of John Lennon tape experiments with its field recordings and dialogue samples, both manipulated and not, and it's almost random flow from “subject” to “subject”. It appears for the most part to follow a motif set forth by the title, of seemingly random events and conversations and emotions that the house itself might perceive over time as people filtered in and out, documenting their comings and goings, expressing its joy, loneliness and occasional anger at its situations. Occupying over half the record, it really takes you through a journey of moments, some trivial, some whimsical, some candid, some maddening, that this dwelling has experienced in its many years. It’s a very intriguing piece and I recommend that you listen when and only when you have the time to dedicate to listening to all of its forty-one minutes in their entirety, you won’t regret it.

Barton Graham (“Chain D.L.K.”)

This album by Alexander Volodin is a very difficult creature to describe - 100% experimental, some tracks seem to be made up of unrelated sound effects and treated sounds, all jumbled up. The opening track, Different Things”, is split into three sections: The Faucet”, “Drums & Domra” and Saxophonia”, all of which consist of random sounds sequenced into random sequences of unrelated sounds. Though Saxophonia” does, as the title suggests, include a sax. It is intriguing to listen to, if only to find out what happens next but as most of it is recorded at low levels much of it is just on the threshold of your hearing. With no listening notes by the composer/musician one is left wondering just what is happening. In my mind’s eye, while this was playing, I had a vision of an early “Pixar”-like animation synching with the sounds. Track four, Silver Thread”, begins with a voice screaming, being treated by various sonic enhancements and then fading into an electronic whirlpool of sound created by “prepared” electric guitar. The final track is called There, House Stood”, and lasts for forty-one minutes, an epic tone poem in the literal sense of the word and arguably the most incoherent of all the pieces on this album. In fact it sounds like a nightmare we would all hope to avoid. So, Alexander Volodin has created an album of extremely uneasy listening, an “Unfinished Journey” to insanity.

John M. Peters (“The Borderland”)

“Unfinished Journey” is Russian composer and musician Alexander Volodin’s second release for the “Electroshock Records” label. Volodin plays all instruments on the album, with guests on saxophone, prepared guitar, violin and voice.
“Different Things” is a 20 minute piece in 3 parts. The first part begins with light clatter, scratching, and sounds from nature, both electronic and samples that sound real. Volodin uses scratching, breathing and machine like howls and drones to interesting effect, making for an audio art collage experience that can be alternately subtle and intense. The second part is an intriguing blend of percussion, acoustic guitar and sound effects. The drums came crashing in unexpectedly a couple times, which was quite jolting given that I was focusing on the subtleties of the sound creation that was going on. I liked how the guitar would play intermittent melodies while the rest of the piece was more purely sound focused, and it all fit together in an odd but pleasurable way. The third part is my favorite, being a saxophone led avant-noise/free jazz piece. The sax jams and wails, accompanied by various sound ephemera.
“Silver Threat” is a busy and sometimes noisy glom of voice, violin, prepared guitar and other sounds. It’s a combination of experimental chamber music and noise-art, and my favorite moments are when the violin is playing intense screeching melodies while the voice growls and moans and the guitar fills an off-kilter rhythmic function. These guys actually get rocking at times and when they do its strangely industrial, orchestral and even punky. Very cool!!!
“There, House Stood” is the 41 minute epic of the set and is quite a journey. It starts off as an ambient soundscape piece where mood and atmosphere are the focus. It’s a nice blend of space excursion with sound samples thrown in - birds chirping, an airplane, flies buzzing. Of course with a piece of this length there are numerous transitions and Volodin handles the progressions with a skill that held my interest throughout, moving through all manner of sound-art mood segments, with sound and atmospherics variously leading the way and interacting with each other, both in cooperation and dialectical contrast. It even gets moodily musical at times, while at others we are voyeurs during interactions between people talking (or solitary sleeping), accompanied by music and sounds.
This is quite an engaging set of audio art and music and I have to give Volodin credit for a free-wheeling flow of ideas that all come together in a way that made for an enjoyably immersive listening experience.

Spaceman33 (“Aural Innovations”)

In this album, Alexander Volodin presents several themes of an experimental nature that flow through “electro-acoustic music”, the “new music” and “ambient”. Some passages are based on structures of sound that change little by little, maintaining their cadence throughout several layers of electronic textures. In others silences are alternated with brief sonic elements, almost always lacking accompaniment, so that they attract the complete attention of the listener. Volodin also uses techniques of audio-collage, and combines musical textures with various noises and audio effects.

Dominique Chevant (“Amazing Sounds”)

A splendid album of electroacoustic music by Alexander Volodin, and last heard in 2004 on “Electroshock Records”. Alexander is a veteran of both the film and music scenes in Russia and his experience is quite evident here. “Unfinished Journey” features three works: “Different Things” (20 minutes), a triptych of reinvented concrete music; “Silver Thread” (10 minutes), an ambient track that settles in nicely due to its position; and “There, House Stood” (41 minutes), an epic composition with a fuzzy narrative and a wealth of shimmering sounds with finely-crafted noise constructs. There is lots of finesse in the latter piece. A surprising, and very strong record!

(“DWM” Music Company)



Reference to "Electroshock Records" website is obligatory in case of any usage of printed & photo materials from the site © "Electroshock Records", 2004