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Dusted magazine

Alla Zagaykevych and Electroacoustic’s Ensemble – Nord/Ouest – Dusted Magazine

I don’t know much about Ukrainian arts and culture. Sad but true, even though I live in a Chicago neighborhood full of Ukrainian immigrants and their descendants, minutes away from the foremost exhibitor of Ukrainian art outside the borders of the former Soviet state. I’m a negligent interloper into a cultural enclave, perhaps, though I plead in my defense that traditional Ukrainian music has never really had its time in the sun. Plenty of people know the sound of Bulgarian vocal choirs, Tuvan throat singing, and Balinese gamelan, but Ukrainian folk styles are probably an unknown to all but the most intrepid of ethnic music explorers. For that reason, there’s a part of Nord/Ouest that’s liable to soar right over the heads of many non-Ukrainian listeners. The proclaimed “geo-political” music was inspired by the folklore and physical environment of Ukraine’s Rivne Polissya region, an amalgamation of modern electronics with traditional sounds from Ukraine’s northwest. Even if one can’t pick up on the specifics of what Alla Zagaykevych and Company are doing, the contrast at the core of Nord/Ouest is easily apparent.


Alla Zagaykevych is the founder of Electroacoustic’s Ensemble and Nord/Ouest’s core contributor. Her electronics are the album’s constant, the ocean on which the rest of the music floats. Vaporous clusters of tones swoop and swirl in colorful auroras, littered with a miscellany of other electronic emissions and occasional theremin — squiggly spurts like a foghorn amidst the sometimes murky haze. Vadim Jovich’s percussion plays at the music’s outer edges, providing textural support and arrhythmic splatters, in league with Zagaykevych’s electronics in setting the scene for Nord/Ouest’s leads. On the first and third untitled tracks, Sergiy Okhrimchuk’s violin plays at center stage, scratching and scribbling in messy tangles, arresting itself before it engages in any activity that might be construed as too melodic. There’s attention paid to an overall ambience, but Nord/Ouest isn’t an album that aims for cohesion or an overly homogenized sound. This becomes most apparent on the second track, which features vocals from Iryna Klymenko, with accompaniment from Zagaykevych, and Okhrimchuk. It’s in the singing that Nord/Ouest ’s link to Ukrainian folklore is at its most obvious. Even when it’s echoed or effected, the strident voices ring out as Electroacoustic’s Ensemble’s human element, that which keeps the album’s conceit from feeling too academic. When Klymenko duets with Zagaykevych, the effect can be chilling and I find the music fading into the background; when one or the other sings alongside Okhrimchuk’s violin, the album comes as close as it will get to conventional beauty. There are hints at what I assume to be traditional Ukrainian songs, signposts to those in the know in a language that few in America will understand. Incomprehension makes them no less arresting.


I probably wouldn’t make many friends jamming Nord/Ouest out on the streets of my neighborhood, but I imagine that someone from or familiar with Rivne Polissya might enjoy or understand the album in ways that I don’t. Still, the broad stroke collisions that constitute the album are easy to understand. The dichotomies between old and new, electronic and acoustic, human and inhuman, are at the crux of what Zagaykevych and her compatriots are exploring. It’s no coincidence that the segments of the album that concentrate on the electronics, well executed as they may be, pale in comparison to Nord/Ouest more heterogeneous intersections of sound. Like the inexplicable possessive in the Electroacoustic’s Ensemble’s name, this album leaves the listener with some questions, but Nord/Ouest is often at its best when it’s most mysterious.

By Adam Strohm

Dusted Magazine

the Moglass/Tom Carter & Vanessa Arn – Snake-Tongued / Swallow-Tailed

Ukrainian label Nexsound follow up their impressive Rural Psychology compilation with this split release, pairing up the duo of Tom Carter (Charlambides) and Vanessa Arn (Primordial Undermind) with native drone-scapers The Moglass for this nicely packaged release.
Predominantly employing lap steel guitar and a triwave picogenrator (a device which enables the user to produce a myriad of unearthly tones) as their sound sources, Carter and Arn contribute two brooding instrumental tracks, which at their most intense moments sound like Ry Cooder’s soundtrack to “Paris, Texas” run through a blender. While there are more restful sections, the overriding feeling is one of claustrophobia. Without the spaciousness that marks so much of Carter’s other work, a suffocating density gradually weighs the pieces down and, certainly, the overly long “Atmananda” never manages to achieve lift-off.
The Moglass’s sound is less organic, an all-enveloping fog of Coil-tinged electronics, punctuated by the occasional chirp of a bird of chime of a bell. There is an almost schizophrenic feel to their three selections, as snippets of well-known folk songs desperately try to emerge from the throbbing fug, only for the beautiful timbres of voice and violin to fall prey to the din. As final hopes for any last shard of melody drown, the industrial pulse grinds on remorselessly, until a final coda of strummed electric guitar and delicate keyboard bring the whole thing back to earth, as Godspeed-like waves lap against desolated shores.
By Spencer Grady

Dusted Magazine

The Moglass – Sparrow Juice

The improvised music on Sparrow Juice, from Ukraine’s Moglass, is exceedingly difficult to categorize, because it’s equally difficult to find points of comparison. Layering synthesizers, guitars, field recordings, and other sound effects, Yuri Kulishenko (a.k.a. Paul Kust) and Oleg Kovalchuk – with a few tracks including Vladimir Bovtenko on sax and Kostya Bovtenko on voice – have found a particular niche that crosses boundaries between jazz and soundtrack, post-rock and noise, even avant-folk and musique concrete. Perhaps the foremost ingredient here is an accomplished approach to drone, seemingly blending guitars and synthesizers with ingredients that have a more organic feel, thanks to conscious use of those field recordings and other treatments.

The Moglass also succeed in balancing a dark mood with textures that give many of the songs a peculiar kind of beauty. Pieces like “Indirect News” and “Revisited with K.” pull the listener into a dreamlike vision, filled with echoey vistas of electronic washes and barely-recognizable sounds of voices and buzzing sax. They’re very pretty works in an abstract, otherworldly way. In fact, when clear bass notes begin midway through “Revisited with K.,” it’s a bit of a shock because they sound out of place amidst the other, drifting, sounds.

“Leering Raspberries” is the long centerpiece of this album, which makes sense because it has a slightly different feel, yet lacks the distinct personality of the album’s best pieces. The song has more recognizable sounds, particularly free clusters of guitar notes that chatter and squawk over the quiet synths that float out in space. It’s a seemingly more traditional improvised piece, based more on typical sounds and less on the alien sonics that lend the bulk of the album such an intriguing personality.

Of the others, we’re led through swamps of cinematic horror, filled with creakings and mutterings; dirges filled with deep guitar notes; glaciers of humming wind and quiet bass melodies; and, with the closing “Asimuth Vibrating,” a gorgeous tapestry of ur-drone constructed from guitar, synth and voice that’s reminiscent of masters like Organum, Total and Lustmord.

The 19 tracks here include nine actual “songs,” with each separated and bookended by brief, well-constructed segments of field recordings, from distant murmuring voices to static environments.

With Sparrow Juice, The Moglass have released a unique collection of sound that deserves to not be categorized, because that would inevitably limit the way in which it will be listened to. Instead, this album should be approached with open ears, and a world of sound will be the reward.

By Mason Jones

Dusted Magazine

The Moglass – Telegraph poles are getting smaller and smaller as the distance grows

The Steady Click of Motion
While it’s not surprising from whom the Moglass takes its cues – Fred Frith, Tangerine Dream, Loren Mazzacane Connors – this three-piece experimental/ambient group from the Ukraine adds process to the often distract approach of their predecessors. Recorded on Christmas Day, 2000, Telegraphs Poles are: is plainly packaged, just an album title and song titles in Russian. The substance inside is equally as plain, slowly gathering energy from the movements of the various instruments to gain peaks and descend back into valleys without ever climaxing. This creates a sense of impending frustration, a feeling that the album explores and exploits. The rhythmic current is comprised of digitalized sound bytes and earthy phasers layered with appropriately filtered guitar reverb, and channels Frith’s guitar/effects bag and the louder parts of Connors’ Come Night. This disc would be right at home in the Constellation Records stable, beside the airy side of Godspeed You! Black Emperor that rises between orchestral chugs, and the machination of Hanged-Up.
Individual pieces are often lost to the listener, as the album slips quietly from one track to another with pauses that barely register. The opening track, “A”, whispers with a graceful ambience and hints at the digital clicks and manipulations to come. Morning ascends midway through the piece, and the sound spirals into a promising contentment. Other tracks, all in Russian characters, strike and destroy this premature settling; the second track stabs through a whistling darkness, and the fourth track echoes its bleak wonder and questioning calls from the upper register. The third and fifth tracks introduce the steady swishing call of train-like beats and the response of carefully plucked guitar notes, the first human presence on the record. The last track is largely silence, with the occasional interruption of soft, but chilling digitalia.
Pieces subtlely unfold with purpose and direction behind an abstract veil. It’s hard not to suggest Western associations of the Eastern bloc and former Communist states – the machinations, the eerie strikes of frigidity, the frozen land – but these might be projections by myself rather than receptions. While the invocation of isolation is unavoidable, might this not be the regular creak and slap of a motel vacancy sign in a Florida hurricane, or the emptiness of a Northwestern forest full of illusionary enemies? These enemies are distinctly natural, organic, with no inherent suggestions of a Soviet pall cast over a landscape already frightening to begin with.
Songs stretch out, real time melts as the repetitions become the album’s inner clock, losing us in its labyrinthine counting. At once a recording of abstraction and machination, Telegraph Poles: is barren and desolate, a cold desert where the traveler is lost, but finds some comfort in following the endless line of telegraph poles.
By Joel Calahan