It would seem that the Chernobyl explosion didn’t only bring to Ukraine human tragedies and huge vegetables, but some seriously mutant electronic musicians. “Polyvox Populi”, a CD brought out by two labels from this country, gives them a chance to get their sound to the outer world. Lead by the Nexsound manager and musician extraordinaire Andrey Kiritchenko, this seemingly incestuous family throws us 11 tracks of drones, experimental sounds and weird ambient from outer spaces, all served from what I would believe are either old soviet-eras synthesizers or their sequels. Anyway, it’s nice to finally have a compilation that doesn’t stand by its big names (ok, we might have Kiritchenko’s own Sidharta and A. De Montfroyd on this compilation, but they are not exactly platinium sellers, yet). Alphonse de Montfroyd starts with a gloomy and slowly pulsating hommage to the Kursk tragedy, which is followed by two similarly dark droney pieces, The moglass playing a very nice one with his twisted and deeply effect-ed guitar. Sidhartha, Andrey Kiritchenko’s glitchy click’n'cut project, put back some light on the disc and once again screams for a big innovative techno label to sign him. Past the aquatic and deep atmospheres of Filius Macrocosmi (imagine Archon Satani by the sea), we get a festival of the Nexsound acts, The Moglass pairing with A. de Montfroyd, A. Kiritchenko going back to his electroaccoustic ambient with Nihil ex Excellence before breeding with A. de Montfroyd for some deep and repetitive experimentation with noise and basses, Kotra delivering again one of their scrap-you-teeth-on-barbwire ultra gritty pieces, and Cold War Mechanizm closing the dance with a spherical track somehow reminiscent of Vromb going soundtrack-ish. Finally, two acts I didn’t know of before mark the end of this compilation, First Human Ferro with a rather harsh and noisy track, and Fragments with very dreamy and and melodic track, which features the only “classic” instrument of the whole CD, a piano. All in all rather calm, but always experimental and, above all, never sounding like anything else, “Polyvox Populi” seems to be the long awaited outburst of energy from this boiling Ukrainian scene. People seems to like drone and calm atmospheres there, but are not afraid to stir it up with noises and glitch. Here is some fresh air from the sometimes too conventional classic drone & noise sound. Time will tell if any of these acts break big, but I surely hope that this compilation will carry their sound to the right ears.
v/a – Polyvox Populi
About ten years ago a compilation came out called Novaya Stsena, featuring underground music from Kharkov and other cities in Ukraine. It was an amazing document of the creative sounds produced before and right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now a new compilation shows us that great music is still being made in Ukraine. Polyvox Populi, the title a play on words of vox populi and polyvox, the soviet version of the moog synthesizer. Ten groups perform 12 tracks, two of them being collaborations between 2 of the groups. What strikes me overall is how the CD flows together, as if they were produced by the same group. Some of this is due in part to groups sharing members, or collaborating, but more likely a result of the thought put into compiling the tracks for this CD. What really appeals to me is how the groups here seem to not be affected by current fashionable trends in electronic music, and prefer to operate in their own sonic realm. Yes there are some clicks and cuts (most notably in the great harsh edged track by Kotra) and laptopisms, but the music has feel of experimental music of the late 70s-early 80s, with its analog sounds, rhythms, and drones. But it never succumbs to retro fetishism, rather more a result of the years of cultural isolation under soviet rule. One of the few benefits of the old regime, was that experimental music developed on its own, with its unique take on western influences when it encountered it. The track by The Moglass could have been released on the old UK label Third Mind, with its process guitars, rhythm box and atmospheric sounds. Sidhartha presents us with a nice looping bit of electronica, swirling keyboards, tabla-like glitching, along with the accompaniment of a baby’s cries. The Moglass team up with Alphonse De Montfroyd for a track of lightly played, percussive guitars and intriguing loops and processed environmental sounds. Alphonse’ solo track is a hard edged rhythm machine, like old Esplendor Geometrico. Nihil est Excellence, which is nexsound boss Andrey Kiritchenko’s project (along with Sidhartha), creates a highly irregular pulsating piece of musique glitch concrete, composed environmental sounds. Cold War Mechanizm’s track is very reminiscent of the 80′s hometaper band F.A.R., with its sequencer lines and processed ambient sounds and tapes. The other groups on this compilation, Caste’, First Human Ferro, and Fragments are contribute strong tracks. Most of the groups contained herein have other releases on nexsound in cdr format, all of which come highly recommended. (JS)
v/a – Polyvox Populi
This compilation is the follow up to the first compilation, the difference being that volume 1 was a CD focusing on artists from Ukraine, while this second edition expands to feature artists from Russia, Estonia, and Belarus and is released in mp3 format with a pdf cover. This is a nice way to learn about artists that do not get enough exposure due to their geographic locations. For the most part the artists here work in the area of IDM/experimental digital musics, and its quite a pleasant mix. All of the tracks display strong compositions and enough individuality to encourage one to seek out more of their works. Included are artists such as Eloshnye Igruski, Klutch, Ambidextrous(who provides a pleasant track with his unmistakeable analog keyboard melodies and who just now has a release on BipHop), Novel 23, Infra Red Army (with a very effective track based on themes by Henry Purcell), and other Nexsound stable artists Kotra, the Moglass, Alphonse de Montfroyd, and Andrey Kiritchenko. (JS)