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 – Fourfold Symmetry
I still remember clearly when, a couple of years ago, I started listening to some obscure tapes from an ukrainian label called Nexsound, which were following by a few CDRs released on other labels of works by Nihil Est Excellence, the ambient project behind which hid Andrey Kiritchenko, founder of Nexsound, radio and video DJ, and experimentalist extraordinaire. And since I have several times written that somebody, sometime, had to finally recognize this artist’s talent, it seems that he has been able to take his Nexsound label to yet a new, bigger step. Past the “Polivox Populi” compilation, a snapshot of Ukraine’s bubbling drone, ambient and noise musicians, here comes “Fourfold Symmetry”, the most ambitiout project of this label to date, and hopefully one that will bring the spotlight even closer.
“Fourfold symmetry”, a (professional) CD packaged in a beautifully folded cardboard sleeve, presents 14 co-authored tracks gathering the famous Kim Cascone (Mille Plateaux / Ritornell, music-editor for David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” and “Twin Peaks”), the almost famous Andreas Berthling (Mitek, Staalplaat) and the not famous yet Andrey Kiritchenko (Mr. Nexsound and Nihil Est Excellence) and Kotra (another Nexsound artist from Ukraine). One after another, they have proposed sound sources to each other, and built tracks from what they had gathered from the other three.
Things crackle, crack, slide and pop on this CD. From minimalistic glitches to short feedback, to analog overdrive to microscopic piece of waveforms, these four musicians are not here to break any album sales records here, but rather to show how diverse and yet interesting experimentations with noises and glitches can be. Utterly abstract, looped or improvised, often scraping, sometimes melodic, always laid back, the music that lies here for us to listen to is definitely a mechanic thing, dry and dynamic. No overdub, no reverb and no rolling basses are to be found in this assemblage of high pitched machine sounds, and are replaced by a very good sound production and a recording that allows the listener to focus on the dynamic and clicky aspect. The tracks are well articulated together and the whole disc carries quite a coherent feeling, but one can still distinguish some slight differences according to the origin of the sound sources, Kotra being noisier, and Andrey Kiritchenko a bit gentler, for example.
“Fourfold symmetry” is not something you are going to sing under the shower, and not something that will make you move your feet in rhythms. But it constitutes a very well done sonic installation, for more interesting and solid in its composition that most material it could be compared to. Fans of Mitek, Bip Hop, Ritornell or Mille Plateaux, or experimentation friendly ears, here is something that you have to get.
the Moglass/Nihil Est eXcellence – split
When it comes to Ukraine, you know you can count on Andrey Kiritchenko and his label Nexsound to provide you with interesting and surprisingly well produced unknown bands, or even to release some really good material with his Nihil Est Excellence and Sidhartha projects. Here is another proof, with this little and nicely designed split 3″ CDR. The first three tracks were written by The Moglass (don’t ask anything about them, I have no idea who they are). Anyway, as far as I am able to discern what the sounds on these tracks are, The Moglass sems to be working with accoustic material, tweaked, slowed down and edited to produce short encompassing tracks full of little variations. The sound is ample, clear and atmospheric, with a nice use of the sound spectrum. It is all very experimental but short enough not to get boring, and the three tracks are rather well done, my favorite being “Agitur”, which sounds like an old outtake of Einsturzende Neubauten going amok in a warehouse. Things are scratched and thrown, producing a nice recurrent grinding sound. On his two tracks, Andrey Kiritchenko brings back Nihil Est Excellence and its long drony ambiences. Enriched with field recordings, the tracks are supported by long and slowly evolving basses. The atmosphere is very “spatial” on the first track, and more electronic, but it all stays very calm. This material is really fine, but it requires that the listener actively listens to it to show its density. Short but varied and well composed, this 3″ CDR is a success for Nexsound. Nihil Est Excellence is supposed to re-release some old recordings on CD soon, and I recommend everybody to be sure to check out this very good project. The Moglass sounds interesting too, and, all in all, this disc is a very nice little thing
Kotra – Stir Mesh
With a steady regularity, Andrey Kiritchenko’s Nexsound label keeps on propulsing to the world some new and interesting musicians from his ukrainian homeland. It is this time the turn of Kotra, a project from Kiev whose album “Stir Mesh” comes in an elegantly packaged white and silvery case.
“Stir Mesh” seems to me to be a very accurate name for this CD. What we have here is extremely far from every sound I have heard elsewhere. The frequencies are totally saturated, yet stay precise and relatively quiet. Obvioulsy not produced with a normal synthesizer or sampler, this reminds me more of what a damaged audio file might sound like, or a text file transfomed into an audio one. The sounds used here vary very quickly and are all scraping and grinding, saturated to the limit of what your loudspeakers are able to render.
But don’t imagine “Stir Mesh” as some kind of loud, noisy and blurry chaos. The tracks are very sharp and precise, and these weird digital frequencies are used more as clicks than as scapes, making the whole thing sound closer to Oval or to some click’n’cuts release than to harsh noise. This doesn’t mean, however, than “Stir Mesh” is sweet and soft, the sonorities and tones used being really out of the norm, and the album being totally atonal.
Far from sounding too abstract, Kotra manages to create an enjoyable album that will still make a lot of exebrows raise with surprise. This is the perfect contrary of droning, a game a microscopic and sharp clicks, of mastered saturation and defitinely something that opens new doors.