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
Critikal – Graphorrhea
Member Dmytro Fedorenko (better known as Kotra), sent sample food by his comrades to do with what he will, seems hellbent on chewing his curd twice, the better to masticate those sound files into disinterred mulch. Why this propensity for sonic violence when all diplomatic sonic means are seemingly nexhausted? To give the people what they want, I guess—Fedorenko is nothing if not accommodating. Base materials such as melody, harmony, or rhythm are not just jettisoned they’re nonexistent; all is random noise, power surges eclipsing red zones, caustic sharks of distortion, scattergun sound effects, hiccupping software, pilfered plug-ins. Unruly and witless digital lifeforms left in Critikal condition. Darren Bergstein
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.
The Moglass – Sparrow Juice
The farther that Moglass get from conventional instrumentation, the better they sound on Sparrow Juice. They wield field recordings with skill to create atmospheres that seem suffused with a sense of place and moment, but defy you name the when and where. Such skills don’t entirely desert them when they turn their hands to ordinary music. Judiciously applied echo turns “Obviously Political Lyric” into a persuasive resurrection of Popol Vuh’s placid spookiness. But on “Maya Brittanica” twinned bass guitar lines take you nowhere, except maybe to the closet where Brokeback hide their outtakes.
Saralunden + Andrey Kiritchenko – There was no end
Nexsound’s Andrey Kirichenko says that his label’s POP series is dedicated to music that’s “more accessible” than he typically releases. Consider the series’ rather bloody-looking logo, take the tail from the “O” to make it an “0”, and you’ve got the skewed sense of POP found on these two releases. A musician, filmmaker, and performance artist, Sara Lunden (her name merged together for performance purposes) sings the 11 songs over these two CD EPs in a breathy, wispy delivery that brings to mind Laurie Anderson (as do the various treatments for her voice). Kirichenko is a key presence on the first of these discs. “Come With Me” contains wiry little vocal squiggles and echoes, and sounds like raindrops hitting cold metal pipes before bouncing back into the sky-“Oh So Blue” features what sound like Kirichenko’s treated field recordings of rain and birds, and perfectly evokes the grey-day mood of artist Zhuzha’s lovely gatefold. When Lunden’s delicately swooning chorus enters, it’s as if the grey sky has momentarily opened into sunny, cloudless blue. The mix on “Don’t You Remember” is more aquatic, its dancing, insect-like percussion glitches mating with shimmering keyboard textures; Lunden’s lyrics attempt to prod memory with specific physical clues. “Erotic Dreams”is colored by electric piano and negative Techno space, and the instrumental treatments on “Tonight” are Matmos-like in their implication of deep bodily functions. At 24 minutes, There Was No End feels complete in its tantalizing textures, and is a thought-provoking collaboration. Larry Nai
Perlonex/Keith Rowe/Charlemage Palestine – Tensions
Nexsound has a canny plan to get its small corner of the Ukrainian music scene before a receptive audience. The label, which is helmed by multi-instrumentalist and signal processor Andrey Kiritchenko, has released a series of compilations and collaborations that usually bring locals together with like-minded sound adventurers from around the globe. But for their three latest releases, Kiritchenko and the trio Moglass each get an album to themselves, while the German ensemble Perlonex shares both sets of its fifth birthday celebration.
Perlonex, which comprises guitarist Jorg Maria Zeger, percussionist Burkhard Beins, and Ignaz Schick on turntables and electronics, made sure their party went well by inviting two ringers to play with them. English guitarist Keith Rowe, who has previously recorded to great effect with Beins, manages to make this setting his own. It’s hard to tell when or exactly what he’s playing, but there’s no missing his presence; the music’s patient evolution, marked by the remorseless grind of adjacent but separate layers and a determined renunciation of vulgar display, is as recognizably his as the high quality of this effort. American minimalist composer, singer, and keyboardist Charlemagne Palestine likewise bends the music to his own will. As with Rowe, the performance is founded upon textured drones. But instead of Rowe’s ego-displacement, Palestine uses the continuous sounds as a backdrop upon which to project his identity. Nowadays his repetitive piano figures are like a sheer curtain compared to the voluminous draperies of sound found on records like Strumming Music. Perlonex’s metallic cries and electronic hums peak out behind Palestine’s flourishes, at once in the background yet much more solid and forceful than his ivory ruminations. Both sets are deeply rewarding.
Andrey Kiritchenko – Stuffed With/Out
Kitichenko’s latest is a highly approachable exercise in electroacoustic manipulation. His main sound source is his acoustic guitar, and his strumming occasionally reveals his roots as a singer-songwriter; “A Rabbit Makes Her Dreams Come True,” for example, opens with a progression that wouldn’t be out of place in a Jim Croce song. But in short order he mixes the sound of strings with exaggerated bumps that may have started life as silverware on a serving tray, then morphs everything into a watery blur straight out of the Fennesz sound library. If you’re looking for a less fluorescently lit version of the Austrian’s approach to signal processing, this record points the way, and like Fennesz’s recent work it’s loath to place too many demands on the listener.
Andrey Kiritchenko – True Delusion
Nexsound label-founder Andrey Kiritchenko’s disc is a much more immediately soothing listen. The first four tracks layer acoustic guitar strumming and filtered reverberations of those strums with paper/object rustling and other ambient incidentals. Even when a thick layer of electronic reverb engulfs the other sound sources, like on “Scope of my perception”, it does so slowly that the decibel increase comes as relief not shock. The last four tracks use a piano in place of the guitar, bestowing on the album as a whole the kind of sonic balance that each track maintains. Very light plinks, soft mid-range feedback, a piano purring, backwards-processed interior landscape field recordings: Kiritchenko’s compositional elements work together, like a beer and an orange, to produce many-flavored feelings.