Nexsound – experimental, ambient, noise, improv record label

Review

Phosphor

Zavoloka – Plavyna

Plavyna is Katja Zavoloka’s first CD release on Ukraine-based Nexsound after first having released an mp3 album on the same label. Nexsound has released work of a number of well-known and not so well-known artists over the past years. “Plavyna” was inspired by the folk music of the Ciscarpathian region in Ukraine. Zavoloka summons quite a long stretch of clicks, fragmented melodies, rhythmic particles, and various other sounds, where occasionally fragments of what I assume to be folk music from the Ukraine pop up. This wild variety of sounds is carefully assembled in a rich kaleidoscopic mixture that most resemble stuttering machines. The density and jittery movements from one movement to another resembles the work of some breakcore musicians, but Zavoloka’s work has a much stronger emphasis on melody and sounds lighter and more delicate than most releases in the aforementioned genre. A demanding release, but original in its approach.
(mvk)

Outsight Communications

Zavoloka – Plavyna

Kateryna Zavoloka is a musician from Kiev, Ukraine. Her instrumental electronica percolates with rapid and unexpected beet, bleeps and crisp snaps. At times this seem to be such a dense polyrhythms as to approach incomprehensibility. Then such tracks as “Rankova (Matin)” will gel into a languid if trippy journey. Zavoloka explains that her intention is “to produce more and more frank music that could reflect her momentary shades of feelings and emotions.” (3)

Etherreal

Zavoloka – Plavyna

Zavoloka est le nom de famille de Kateryna, un petit bout de femme de 23 ans vivant a Kiev, en Ukraine. C’est logiquement sur Nexsound qu’on la retrouve pour ce premier album surprenant de maturite, apres avoir produit en 2003 un album MP3 sur ce meme label.
La musique de Zavoloka interpelle. Apres une courte intro facon chant d’oiseau ludique, elle produit quelques pieces plutot experimentales mais pourtant toujours touchantes ou par moment accrocheuses. Des bruits divers, de tonalites variees s’enchainent de facon abstraite et par moment une magnifique melodie cristalline s’en echappe comme un genie sortirait de sa lampe. De la meme maniere pendant quelques secondes des impacts noisy vont former une rythmique qui nous fera hocher la tete. Ce qui rend egalement la musique de l’Ukrainienne touchante, c’est le nombre d’elements sur lesquels l’auditeur peut se retrouver, comme les impacts metalliques de Dzerkalo qui nous font penser a une horloge dereglee, des bleeps gazouillant a la maniere d’un orchestre d’oiseaux sur le final printanier et bucolique de Teche Voda Ledova.
Avec une palette sonore assez limitee, contribuant certainement a la coherence de l’album, Zavoloka produit tout de meme un disque fort riche et varie. Si l’on est d’abord marque par ces experimentations un peu abstraites et/ou ludiques avec un sens melodique subtilement dissemine, elle flirte avec l’electronica melodique sur le superbe Rankova et ses notes limpides, cristallines, avec un etonnant final a la flute. Ses constructions nous font parfois penser a une musique contemporaine minimale (Dzerkalo), ses sonorites limpides font l’objet d’un travail subtile sur Plavyna dont la melodie, reprise par plusieurs instruments, s’avere a la fois efficace et complexe, on pense meme aux premieres productions d’Autechre sur Kosytsia qui se voit bientot parasite par de nombreux bruitages qui serviront de rythmique, ou a un croisement entre Pan Sonic et une production 12k sur Kolyskova, debutant par une ambient minimale aux sonorites particulierement brutes, avant d’integrer un chant ukrainien empreint par la tradition du pays pour un resultat epoustouflant. Cette sorte de retour aux traditions est confirme sur Teche Voda Ledova qui debute par une melodie de flute, sur laquelle viennent se poser bleeps et basses electroniques ou longue nappe lineaire marque par de courtes sequences bruitistes.
Zavoloka est tres certainement un sacre personnage, se permettant a 23 ans de tels melanges avec une telle assurance, et surtout une telle reussite. Bravo aux labels Nexsound et Laton qui ont unis leurs efforts afin de donner sa chance a une jeune artiste pleine de promesses.

Paris Transatlantic

Zavoloka – Plavyna

When I was 13 my dad went on a trip to Leningrad organised by the British Communist Party (back then it was the only way to go), and brought back a vintage Soviet cheap vinyl pressing of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, complete with bold, red, fisting constructivist cover art and inner sleeves made of stiff brown recycled paper that smelt suspiciously like raw sewage. The promo copies of the latest two releases on Andrey Kiritchenko’s Nexsound label also come in plan brown paper- odourless, thankfully – and I’m inclined to wonder if they’ll age as badly as the Shostakovich (proof, were any needed, that the heroic and the bombastic are never too far away from each other). The opening track of Zavoloka’s Plavyna takes a pretty, reverberant flute melody and allows her software to morph it into a 21st century isorhythmic motet of glitches and squiggles. It’s a spanking recording, though I’m left with the uneasy feeling that, if they had the right equipment, just about anybody with a bit of sense and a good working knowledge of the Mego and Rephlex back catalogues could come up with something rather similar. Dive-bombing comb-filtered swoops and all manner of fizzes, whizzes and blips straight outta Planet Mu are perfectly listenable, but will probably sound as dated twenty years from now as Shostakovich’s crashing banality. One gets the impression that one should be applauding the software, and not the person using it.
-DW

Metica

Zavoloka – Plavyna

Vissa skivor tar lite tid att forsta sig pa och ‘Plavyna’ ar en av dem. Inledande ‘Maliovani Jafyny’ ar kravande, jag kunde inte finna ro att ta mig igenom den och skivan stangdes av flera ganger innan laten ens var slut. Nar jag spelade upp laten for mina vanner fick jag reaktioner som ‘sa har later det nar nagon kor en Unix-installation via ett ljudkort’ och ‘hon maste ha kopplat en geigermatare till en MIDI-synth’. Det ska sagas att jag inte var sen att instamma men, kara lasare, ni maste komma ihag att jag da endast hade lyssnat pa skivans forsta spar. Zavoloka gor inte noise. Aven fast musiken pa ‘Plavyna’ ar bruten ar ljuden aldrig pafrestande pa det dar direkt kroppsliga sattet som japanerna ar sa bra pa. Snarare ar musiken mjuk och vacker. Valdigt ofta paminner de intensivt hoppande och studsande ljuden om djurlaten, vattendrag och granskog.
“Det handlar om naturromantik…”
Det ar som sagt egentligen bara den forsta laten pa skivan som pa riktigt kraver nagot av lyssnaren (aven fast det spattiga och hart uppklippta delvis aterkommer i laten ‘Kosytsia’). Efter det forsvinner knepigheterna nastan helt och lugnet och varmen kommer fram. Det ar lite som att stanna bilen pa en stressad motorvag, kliva ur och gar rakt ut i skogen. Forst handlar det endast om att undvika att bli pakord men nar tradlinjen val ar bruten och motorvagen ligger bakom ryggen blir allt lugnare och stressen forsvinner allt mer ju langre in i skogen man kommer. Det handlar om naturromantik, Zavoloka gor musik som later som sagoskog med solvarma skogsglantor, porlande backar och blomsterangar. For ovrigt inte allt for olikt de skogar som beskrivs i Robin Hood och Bilbo, eller Nalle Puh for den delen. ‘Plavyna’ visar pa slaktskap med Tapes fortjusande skiva ‘Milieu’, men dar Tape later musiken stanna vid varma sommardagar och skogsglantor vill Zavoloka sa garna ga lite langre och blir overtydlig i sin imitation av naturen. Musikens spattighet gor dock att de manga naturromantiska dragen inte helt far ta over och darfor ramlar skivan aldrig ner i den lomska new age-fallan som skymtar har och dar, aven fast den kommer farligt nara ibland. Lattips: ‘Kolyskova’ och ‘Teche voda ledova’.
Forfattare: Zac Fors

Rock and Pop

Zavoloka – Plavyna

I vychod ma sve hvezdy v experimentalni elektronice. Jen je treba promnout si oci zalepene zlatym prachem ze Zapadu a otocit se na chvili na druhou stranu. Go East! I tam muze zlatokop narazit na zilu. Jednou z nich je ukrajinsky label Nexsound. A jednou z jejich chranencu je Kateryna Zavoloka. Po debutovem MP3 albu Suspenzia (2003) vydala Katja sve prvni regulerni album, ktere vyvolava v zasvecenych kruzich pozitivni odezvy. Co pozitivni, tahle holka si zaslouzi nadseni. Uz chapu, ze je kamaradkou AGF. Myslenkova spriznenost se nezapre, ackoliv formalni rozdilnost je na prvni pohled slysitelna. A to je dobre. Koncept zvukove cistoty a jednoduchosti v komplikovanejsi zvukove forme. Jeji glitche jsou totiz krkolomne tak, ze musite nekdy natacet hlavu na vsechny strany, abyste zachytili jejich logiku. Ale ona tam je. A dokonce i melodie. Ale chce to usili a zavrit si okno. Intelektualni procistenost, ale ne zadna askeze zvuku. Organicky hedonismus. Jako kdyby jste si za uplnku vyrazili na LSD do prirody a nahodou se napojili na jeji vnitrni jazyk. V pocatecnim soku nerozeznate vic nez zmatek zvukoruchu, ale po chvili uz umite rozlustit dorozumivaci kody. Zvlast kdyz do vas pri Rankove lesni duch vpravi zvukem carovne fujary novy jazyk. Jirik ze Zlatovlasky tusi. Stavate se tichym pozorovatelem prirodni komunikace. Konecne ma kazdy zvuk svuj vyznamovy ekvivalent, ovsem ne v nasem jazyce. Staci dotyk, a vsechno oziva. Uz jste si povidali s mechovymi kvitky? Jako by najednou uz bylo zbytecne hrat si na schovavanou a je nacase si vzajemne odkryt rousku. A jako z jine vrstvy reality vnimate zpev podkarpatskych starenek pri spradani niti a melodii pasackovi fletny, ktera se odrazi od okorale praskajici kury stromu. Ale i do tehle reality jste nekdy patrili, vzpominate? Digitalne upravena prirodni idylka nebo taky nesnesitelna psychedelie. Vyberte si.

Signal To Noise

Zavoloka – Plavyna

For the new generation of electronic composers jealous of not having grown up in the age of enormously beautiful analog synths, the first track on Playna, “For A Cuckoo”, serves up a 7 second homage that perfectly exemplifies and condenses the best that that music offers. And then Katja Zavoloka is done with that stuff, breaking off her own new dimension of electro-acoustic plumage for the rest of this excellent inaugural full-length from the Ukrainian composer. Soft digi-bells wave over the top of oblongly circulating ticks like melody messages from other solar systems on “Painted Berries.” A lot of sharply rising and descending tones ribbon out in vaguely Squarepusherish dynamism, but what sets her compositions apart is the careful distinction she makes between rhythmic and melodic functions within a song, giving each equal weight and in perfectly unpredictable durations. It’s the difference between the atmosphere and the weather, but experienced simultaneously from space and the equator. Using Ciscarpathian flutes as an acoustic sound source and what sounds like a lovable uncle singing, Zavoloka incorporates a deep well of enthusiasm for contemporary electronics with a natural sensitivity to what just sounds good. An impressive, demanding debut.

Indieville

Zavoloka – Plavyna

Zavoloka’s album is the most accessible release I’ve received yet from Ukrainian label Nexsound. This is bleepy, glitchy IDM, taking cues from Autechre and Aphex Twin, but really of its own unique style. Rhythms are often subtle – even suggested – but even in its most free-flowing and abstract moments, there is a sense of order and organization here. I really enjoy the experience that Zavoloka has created with these ten tracks, as this seems to have found a perfect balance between IDM and experimental electronic music. Melody is the one fleeting ingredient here – Zavoloka seems more content to work on atmospherics and complex compositional architecture – but with that said, there is still enough tunefulness to keep an open-minded ear entertained. Favourite moments include the warped woodwinds on “Teche Voda Ledo” and the dense melodies and rhythms of “Rankova.” This is perfect listening for a detached, sleepless 4am winter night.
87%
Matt Shimmer

RUBored

Zavoloka – Plavyna

i have to admit that at first, kateryna zavoloka’s very nice artist-pix caught my attention. i think it’s a cool thing that electronica-people frequently come out of their anonymous laptop-existence, especially if their music is as individual and stunning as zavoloka’s. on her website, you can read about the strong influence of folkmusic on her sound. everytime i play her records, i get the impression of listening to something like cut out of wood, and besides the fact she uses flutes and russian singing, this feeling of being handmade seems to proove her statements. every scattered sound-event bears a tonal weight and is wrapped in analog reverb. zavoloka manages to construct melodies and rhythms out of a storm of single particles: her songs usually start confusing, developing slowly to reach their climax when everything comes together in beauty. i can’t think of a good comparsion, maybe the bizarre plant-music of leafcutter john works out. on a more principial level, zavoloka seems to be the bèla bartòk of contemporary electronica. note: you should order her latest album playna (CD) at the nexsound-shop. it’s even better and beautyfully packed! you can also get an expanded version of the suspenzia-album (CD) if you’re really found of it (nice package, like always).

Paris Transatlantic

v/a – Rural Psychogeography

If you’re looking for one compilation that truly samples the world of electronic music, and the world itself, from Arizona to Argentina, Nijmegen to New Zealand, look no further. Rural Psychogeography features a veritable Who’s Who of sound artists in a fabulously recorded and exquisitely sequenced selection of work that kicks off spectacularly with Geoff Dugan’s “No Trespassing”, an outstanding binaural recording of Lake Otsego in upstate New York (watch yo woofers when dem trucks start rolling by). Francisco Lopez provides yet another inscrutable reworking of field recordings, this time from Patagonia, and Alan Courtis, of Reynols fame, collages sounds of the wind recorded in the Atacama Desert at Antofagasta de la Sierra Catamarca. Judging by the thundering oppressive rumbles that result, neither place is particularly hospitable. Probably just as well we segue right into Jason Kahn’s “Kreis 5″, which if my Google sleuthing is to be trusted (I guess I could always ask Jason himself but snooping around is more fun) is an industrial estate in Zurich, Switzerland, where’s it’s clearly raining. Nexsound’s own Andrey Kiritchenko is up next, and from the sound of it, the label’s home base in Babal in Eastern Ukraine is a pretty wet place too.
Here the album begins to slip its moorings: Kiritchenko isn’t content to leave the field recordings alone, adding swirls of laptop and shards of improvised acoustic guitar (imagine CM von Hausswolf jamming with John Russell at a bus stop in the rain). In similar vein, back in Switzerland, Tomas Korber and Gunter Muller get busy eai-style on a recording of a crossroads in Beijing. Lunt, aka Gilles Deles, dedicates his “Double Strapontine” to Matabiau subway station in Toulouse – goodness knows how he used the recordings he made there, but the result is absolutely spellbinding. Back in the Ukraine, The Moglass have taken a trip to Koktebel, in the Crimea, and here my Googling took me straight to a Russian-only Website introducing the ex-Soviet Union’s most famous nudist beach (you think I’m making this up? Check out the photo.. seems to be the ideal place for cutting edge sound artists to hang out, if you ask me). Their magnificent and spacious track – for once not long enough! – is definitely one of the disc’s highlights. Quite what relation Radian’s “Unje” has to do with the island of Unije off the Dalmatian coast that gives the piece its name isn’t clear (nor is the reason for including the track, which had to be licensed specially from Thrill Jockey, where it first appeared on the Rec.Extern album), but Tom Carter and Vanessa Arn’s “Mojave” is a beautiful and evocative portrait of the Arizona desert. After the crackle and grit of Martin Tetreault’s “D’apres Gaycre #3″, dedicated to the valley of the same name in the Tarn department of Southern France and the album recorded there in situ by Jean Pallandre, Xavier Charles, Michel Doneda on the splendid environmental improv Ouie Dire label, Rosy Parlane’s “Nica” returns us to the antipodean poise of Huia (somewhere not far from Auckland, NZ, as far as I can make out). Meanwhile, back in Switzerland, Steinbruchel’s laptoppery is as meticulous and unfathomable as ever, as is Kim Cascone’s “DMZspace”, which is “taken from a Korean spam installation”, whatever that means. By the time we get through the Cascone to Kotra (aka Dmytro Fedorenko)’s “Lost River”, an agglomeration of oppressive piano samples, we seem to have left “geography” behind and moved firmly into the world of the “psycho”. There’s not much rural about it anymore either, especially the last track, a decidedly noisy performance by Kouhei and Freiband recorded at a festival in Nijmegen in The Netherlands. It certainly makes a change for compilation albums to go out with a bang – most of them are far too polite and play-safe – and with the feeling that we’ve really been on a journey; flip track one on again and you’ll realise how far we’ve travelled. The only mildly annoying thing about this collection is the accompanying liners, a rather pretentious (and frankly unnecessary) essay by Natalia Zagurskaya – though then again I’m instantly suspicious whenever I come across words like “schizoanalysis” and “mobile psycho-prosthesis” – who might instead have mentioned (though I guess she supposes we all know anyway) that the term “psychogeography” was first coined by Guy Debord to refer to the effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behaviour of individuals. Speaking for myself – can’t get more individual than that – I think this is one of the most varied and thought-provoking compilations of recent times.
DW

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