Alla Zagaykevych & Electroacoustic’s Ensemble – Nord/Ouest
Le site internet d’Alla Zagaykevych ne mène nulle part (la preuve : nulle part). C’est sur le site de l’Ircam qu’on peut en apprendre sur cette compositrice ukrainienne. Mais on en apprendra encore plus en écoutant Nord/Ouest, CD qu’elle a enregistré avec son Electroacoustic’s Ensemble.
Zagaykevych programme, chante, joue des live electronics et du thérémine. Surtout, elle invente une musique qui emprunte à Xenakis autant qu’au folklore de son pays d’origine. Parfois, son programming sonne bien vieux d’autres fois il est très froid. Mais le voilà excusé lorsqu’arrivent les voix, les cordes et les percussions, toutes de belle qualité. Du Nord à l’Ouest, l’oreille vacille donc. Cette musique électroacoustique mi-folk mi-contemporaine nous mène nulle part, elle aussi: je veux dire par là qu’elle est rare et déboussolante.
Alla Zagaykevych : Nord/Ouest (Nexsound)
Enregistrement : 12 juin 2010. Edition : 2011.
CD : 01-03/ Nord/Ouest
Pierre Cécile © Le son du grisli
Alla Zagaykevych & Electroacoustic’s Ensemble – Nord/Ouest
This is strange brew indeed. Nord/Ouest (which means North-East in English, I guess) is electro acoustic performance for folklore voices, violin, flute, percussion and electronics. Including Theremin. Ukrainian composer Alla Zagaykevych’s (b. 1966) works range widely across genres, from symphonic, via instrumental and vocal chamber music, to electro-acoustic compositions, then multi-media installations and performances, as well as chamber opera and music for films. Nord/Ouest holds three tracks, or rather movements, of which all three takes stomach and time to sit through. You’d better put in a break in-between the three parts.
Nord/Ouest was created/composed in 2009, recorded in one day (June 12th) 2010, and released last year. Alla Zagaykevych is of course head of all compositions (even though parts are clearly more results of improvisation than others, while other parts have borrowed from the traditional folk music), as well as being in charge of programming, doing live electronics, vocals and Theremin. Iryna Klymenko adds vocals, Sergiy Okhrimchuk plays violin and sings and Vadim Jovich plays percussion. I sense that I’m not among the perfect/typical audience for this type of music. I feel that most parts of the music and the folkloristic content goes way above my head. Yet, this is interesting music for ears and head, as the ensemble lays an emphasis on “…primitive mystery and ‘elusiveness’ of the folklore of North-Western region of the Ukraine…”
You don’t get exposed to music like this every day. Fair enough, but sometimes I guess it’s healthy to face something completely different. To expand your mind, to broaden your horizon.
Copyright © 2012 Håvard Oppøyen
Alla Zagaykevych and Electroacoustic’s Ensemble – Nord/Ouest
This is the latest release on Nexsound, a renowned experimental label run by Ukrainian experimental artist Andrey Kiritchenko.
Alla Zagaykevych is an Ukrainian composer who has a vast experience in different musical fields, multi-media installations, performances, chamber opera and music for films.
In this album Alla Zagaykevych does the composition and programming, live electronics, vocal and Theremin and the members Electroacoustic’s Ensemble are Iryna Klymenko on vocal, Sergiy Okhrimchuk, violin and vocal, and Vadim Jovich, percussion.
‘Nord/Ouest’ consists in three tracks which have as a reference the folklore of the North-Western region of Ukraine called Rivne Polissya.
Both structure and improvisation are present in this album that comes together with harsh violin sound, faltering Theremin sound, and power drums. This it can be listened mostly in tracks one and three since in the second cut it’s more evident the folk influence through the use of vocals. These vocals give a special power to the music and maybe this is the reason why the combination of traditional folk song and modern electronics blend seamlessly.
Alla Zagaykevych and Electroacoustic’s Ensemble – Nord/Ouest
Now this is the kind of band you don’t see very often, I think, although I don’t think they would approve of my use of the word band. Alla Zagaykevych is responsible for the composition and programming (although I am not sure what it meant with programming), live electronics, vocal and theremin with Iryna Klymenko (vocal), Sergiy Okhrimchuk (violin, vocal) and Vadim Jovich (percussion). The ensemble has an interest in the ‘primitive mystery and “elusiveness” of the folklore of North-Western region of the Ukraine’. The music from this area is something we should be able to hear in the music, but that is perhaps only if you know the original version. Although Zagaykevych is credited with composition, I must say that a lot of this sounds like improvisation and just the second part sounds more folk like, with a lot of traditional singing. Throughout these three lengthy pieces there is some interesting variations to be spotted. The first part is no doubt the most improvised one, which reminded me of AMM and Morphogenesis meeting up – especially through the use of drums. The second piece is the most traditional one, as said, mainly through the use of vocals, although clashing in with the use of modern electronics and scraping of cymbals. The third part is again more improvised like, with a major role for the flute, violin, percussion and the electronics providing a more mellow backdrop – here its more Morphogenesis than AMM, I suppose. Bands of this kind, combining a band structure, along with improvisation and electronics are these days a rarity – as far as I can view such matters of course – and this ensemble plays some excellent music in that style. (FdW)
Ojra & Kiritchenko – A Tangle Of Mokosha
My predicament of Eastern European electronic musicians combining with folk songs to be the next big thing never set through, which was a pity since it could have been a really interesting thing, but perhaps its a slow wave: now there is a CD by Andrey Kiritchenko, the electronic hero from the Ukraine, who recorded a work with Ojra, a four piece band from the world of folk music. The opening piece ‘Svity Misyachenko’ reminded me of Dead Can Dance circa ‘Aion’ (a private favorite for whatever reason). It sets the tone for this release. Folky singing is of course what is at work here, but the instruments added make up a fine blend of music. On one hand there is the kazoo, violin, guitar, bass, dulcimer, kalimba, sopilka, dvoyanka, drymba, bayan and buhay (and I admit for some of those I have no idea what they look like) and on the other hand there are the electronics and field recordings of Kiritchenko. An odd combination perhaps, but the music is wonderful. Ancient perhaps, but also very modern. I am not sure if the instruments are ‘processed’ in any way – I think so, as sometimes there are loops and such like of those sounds – whereas the real instruments keep on playing in real time. The modern version of an old folk dance? Sometimes even augmented with almost techno music. This is exactly the combination of styles I thought would be the next big thing a few years ago, and hopefully now it will be pushed. This is an absolutely great disc which show the way out for laptop musicians wanting to do something radically different. Hardly folktronics, I’d say, but something entirely new altogether. (FdW)
Nole Plastique – Escaperhead
Escaperhead is the second album from the Russian duo Nole Plastique, who seem to have discovered the history of avant pop music through two separate ports of entry: Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and Christian Fennesz. Within these two references, Nole Plastique re-engineer a particular variant of psychedelia that may have started at one time with simple songs for a couple of guys singing and strumming on their guitars. Yet when these wistful tunes are rendered through their arsenal of DSP tricknology, wooden rhythms end up grafted into the backbone of songs and studiously lysergic effects fire from every direction. The songs dissolve as semi-digitised ghosts with flickers of English lyrics and bright guitar riffs. In this Pink Floyd/Fennesz recombination, Nole Plastique are acutely aware of their American contemporaries (Animal Collective, Indian Jewelry, Black Dice), and while wonderously jubliant, Escaperhead occasionally suffers from being too calculated in the search for the ‘new’.
Bluermutt – Decivilize after consumption
Some time ago Nexsound have added PQP to their sublabel routine which marked the leave from the harsh and extreme noise experimental side and the introduction of what might be called pop in the overall context of Nexsound. This release by Bluermutt marks a sort of slight return or rather connectivity to the dynamics and chaos of earlier times, but not in extremity or harshness of sound. Mostly probably just because Bluermutt is not song-structured, but track-structured. On the other hand, disturbing dynamics, weird collections and juxtapositions of sounds and structures and a shifting of expectations has been a basic framework for Bluermutt on older releases as well, and within the roster of nexsound the Italian one man multiple helpers project has been the softest but in no way tamest artist.
Saralunden.Björkås.Mjös – Dubious
Lunden’s alliance with instrumentalist Andreas Mijös, from Jaga Jazzist, and singer Kyrre Björkäs, from Norwegian band Detärjag som är döden, is even briefer, at 16 minutes. The use of various acoustic instruments such as violin, vibes, piano, and recorder, plus more conventional rhythms, gives it a slightly more organic sound than the Kirichenko partnership, its five songs seeming to trace the course of a relationship. “Dubious” is a seductive samba, Björkäs’s low voice turning Lunden’s material even darker. Lines like “I so much want to be your double” and ” I volunteer for immediate addiction when we’re together” have ominous overtones that are developed further in “You Can Come”‘s talk of breathing through the other’s skin, and the obsessive erotics of “Naked In My Bed.” “The Sound It Makes” dovetails on a treated 1960’s girl group riff, becoming darker and heavier as it goes, and closer “Murder” gets downright spooky, setting horror movie soundtrack sounds over pulsing space synth. Also sporting a nicely done sleeve (by Lunden and artist Henrik Lundstrom), Dubious is a worthy companion to There Was No End; both make good use of the EP format for listeners desirous of a strong aperitif. Larry Nai
Saralunden + Andrey Kiritchenko – There was no end
This collaborative project has its roots in a Swedish Institute initiative which took place in spring 2006. With the aim of promoting relations between Sweden and Ukraine, four musicians from each country were asked to work together. There’s a curious sense of dislocated tension in these songs which could be derived from their unorthodox genesis, couching Lunden’s faux naif, sing song delivery against Kiritchenko’s uneasily shifting electronic backcloth. Titles such as “Come With Me” and “Oh So Blue” are knowingly banal and the lyrics offer a similarly deadpan version of the utterly conventional. But they are transformed by the slurred handclaps, queasily manipulated vocals and restlessly uncertain tempos. The overall impression is of a compromised emotional landscape not a million miles away from Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats, and the closing, half whispered phrase -“Tonight you gave me something / will always remember”- hangs in the mind after silence has closed over it, resonant and ambiguous.
Perlonex/Keith Rowe/Charlemage Palestine – Tensions
Why does it take over two years to release such a record? Starting a review with such a bold question may sound angry, but it is actually a solid form of puzzlement from my side. In 2004 the electroacoustic trio Perlonex celebrated its fifth birthday with two performances in Berlin to which they invited Keith Rowe and Charlemagne Palestine respectively. These sets have been recorded and now put out on a double CD without overdubs or any kind of editing. Does that mean the tapes from this show were sitting in a box somewhere for over two years? Or did it take that long to find a label willing to release them? The latter reason would puzzle me even more, because all the people involved are well known in the field of electroacoustic free improvisation, have toured and made connections globally and most importantly, the two long tracks are impressive and evolve dilligently and dynamically, in other words, they are great music. Maybe I just don’t know how some things have to work to be worked out and after all, Nexsound is a perfect place for this album and I should be happy that the album is out at all. Thinking too much about structures and the powers that lead to certain decisions and actions will get me into trouble sooner or later, or so it has been prophesized to me. CD one contains three quartes of an hour of Perlonex with Keith Rowe playing tabletop guitar. Within a few minutes layers of distant sounds, rising hissing and noises getting denser and denser evolve from about nothing, opening spaces, building walls and rooms and halls and roofs. Staying away from building a monolithic brickwall of sound, the four musicians gradually grow a stream of sounds that swells, becomes bigger and bigger and starts to incorporate more and more space. At times a simple small bellsound forms the only constant rhythmical measure while the level of noise rises. Bitstreams of digital noise as well as looped cut impromptu recordings. After some time the soundstream has reached its culmination and starts to ebb down again, just as slowly but also just as headstrong as it grew. While listening you think that this point has come over and over again, but when it actually has come you will only have noticed when it already has gone by. More often than not you’ll be wrong. You’ll be amazed at the power this track can form without going to the extreme and harsh attack of, for example, Merzbow. Suddenly all that is left is a humming, vibrating bass sound that seems to live inside the walls rather than inside the boxes. And from there it starts again. Ebb and flow, the most eternal structure of sound there is. CD two seems more lively and diverse, but nobody would judge if there wasn’t the comparison to Keith Rowe on the first CD. Everything seems to be more on the surface as well, the movements and changes in the music not as hidden or subdued. Signified eloquently by the introductory speech of Palestine to the audience. Electroacoustics seems to live from dynamics as well as from the diversity and curiosity of and in sound. If the track with Keith Rowe is a prime example of controlling dynamics then the track with Charlemagne Palestine is a prime example of incorporating and discovering sounds from the subconscious. On the matter of dynamics on the other hand the second CD in this package suprisingly seems even more monosyllabic and woven along a singular line than the first. But since Palestine could do wonders on a piano that has only one key left, that just adds to the full vibrating drone-atmosphere of the event. A glistening, crackling fourty minutes of sound. Tension indeed. The most basic examination of the dynamics of tension, analysed by strengthening the density over a long period of time and then releasing it just as slowly. The true fascination of this movement is impossible for me to describe, and maybe I shouldn’t so as not to kill the organism that sound can become if treated right by manipulation and the right way of listening. Probably just a modern form of zen-breathing? Well, breathtaking it is. Caution: if you are aware of adverse organic reactions to high frequencies, better stay away from this record.