Part of the exquisite looking May batch from ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ record is this release, “Three Months” by EugeneKha.
“EugeneKha is an ambient project by Evgenij V. Kharitonov: poet, musician, sound and visual artist. He was born in 1969 in Moscow and has got a philological eduction, is the author of numerous literary publications and many books, works in journalism. Evgenij actively developed and popularized a musical aesthetics of a lowbit (lowbit, lo-bit, low-nitrate), some sources call him “the father of the Russian lo-bit””
For this release he uses a bunch of different Synths, alongside software, field recordings, Jews harp, flute, voices, ocarina, didgeridoo and various kinds of percussion.
“June (Mantra)” instantly you feel like you have dropped in the middle of a David Attenborough documentary with a slowly growing looping hum joined by shaker percussion, bells and rattles and some sort of vocal or bird call sound before didgeridoo takes you to the Australian outback. The music becomes multi layered utilising loops to create a hypnotic, cycling feel that gives the impression that the music is hitting you from 360·. A visual that comes to mind is being a witness to a tribal ceremony late at night. The additional of what I think is Jew’s Harp adds a nice done feel while the hand percussion leads us into Dead can Dance or Muslimgauze territory.
“July (Just One Evening)” changes tack with field recordings off what sounds like cars, dogs, insects, synths, all with a slight ominous undercurrent. Ghostly presences permeate the track as if you are driving through abandoned streets with the feeling that though you cant see anyone, you are indeed being what by a handful of pairs of eyes. There are waves of sound, but nothing overly dramatic happens, just a constant stream of elements dropping in and out, layering on top of each other. It sounds effortlessly good.
“August (Three Dreams)” with a swirling sound and a rumbling drone with the slightest accompaniment from field recordings, Kharitinov creates a slow-moving visceral sounding drone piece that hovers in a sense of stasis. Slow pulsing synths, layered field recordings lead us into and through a peaceful section that employs melodies not heard previously that bring forth ambience of the more proggy variety. The synths build walls of sound and drones that fill the track with light airy sounds before the track is turned completely on its head and we are in the day to the night of the first track, such is its feel. Synths, shakers and hand percussion make the track feel like we have left the tribal ceremony and are welcoming the new day. Water sounds start to dominate the track in the last five or so minutes with water and a choral like vocal leading the track out to the end. The three dreams all cover different ground, feel and texture with the initial one winning me over more.
EugeneKha is a prolific musician, one look at his sprawling bandcamp indicates this. You can see he has through time honed his art and is confident in structure and flow. For people who want to be taken on a journey.
Francis M Gri
“Francis M. Gri is a multi-instrument composer currently residing in Milan, Italy, who also curates the KrysaliSound record label. His previous releases have appeared on his own label as well as Final Music and he’s also due an album in US imprint Time Released Sound. Francis began playing guitar when he was 13 progressing to piano and in time began performing as part of his first dark ethereal band “All My Faith Lost”. His musical experiences have culminated in his work under his own name, since 2010, which straddles the Ambient, electroacoustic and Electronic genres. His studio material draws influences from many contemporary artists such as Taylor Deupree, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sigur Ros and Ludovico Einauldi.
The album was constructed from material from a hard drive back up from 2003-2005, while he couldn’t load the tracks due to technical issues, he was able to rework them as he had saved the individual sound components.
“In This Room” all three tracks of the release are over eleven minutes in length with this being the epic of them at just under twenty-five minutes. It opens with guitar, echoing electronics and backward sounds that warp in and out. Ambience is allowed to flow while dub like synth motifs bounce across. Piano enters the picture bringing an electronic feel due to the playing which sounds as if you were listening to synths. Gri lets space grow between the elements and utilizes repetition to build the track, but also establish the soundscape. An ominous edge filters through coated with a layer of dust while guitar returns alongside drones, cut up electronics. This is the kind of track that lulls you in as you think that nothing much is going on as there are no peaks nor troughs, but if you listen closely you will detect the subtle changes that change the musical landscape. It’s quite a relaxing piece to listen to that doesn’t get boring.
“Hidden Reflections” what sounds like a distorted organ or piano slowly unwinding alongside shrill noises that float in and out. Guitar and a churning pulsing string based sound lead the piece into the next movement. Backwards loops of sound, the previous shrill noises, drones take the sound of the piece in a more noticeably sonic direction. The track continues to grow with each piece building and creating depth of sound with mutating electronics cutting in and out becoming a feature. Following a similar style to the opener with the introduction and reduction of elements, this track highlights a bit more varied sound with lush drones joining the guitar and backwards sections and elevating the track.
“Last” howling cold noises and waves of bright warping electronics bring forth s track that sounds like things are rippling out. The elements cone from small parts grow large and peter out, before coming back again. Sounds bounce in creating an almost rhythmic feature while ghostly fragments of guitar spindles out. Fragile melodies permeate the track which add to the overall ambience and highlights the music. This is the type of release to drift off to.
Gri has created a release that is sonicly rich, textural, glacial, full of depth and relaxing. It’s the type of music to can listen to and be distracted and I mean this in a good way. Sometimes music can be all engaging and require your attention and other times it can relax you and that’s what this release does. Recommended.
“”The Nightfall” is a collection of four compositions, each one inspired by a seasonal haiku, by Serbo-Croation artist Manja Ristić. By combining abstract electronic haunting soundscapes and field recording textures, Manja recreates the evocative atmosphere of haiku without using words: just like kigo in haiku poetry. Kigo means a word or group of words which locates the poem in a season of the year, the seasonal association helping the reader imagine the atmosphere and the settings of the poem more vividly. The tracks in “The Nightfall” are moments frozen in time that can be perceived rather than seen, allowing the mind of the listeners to reinterpret in their own way these four deeply moving soundscapes.”
“Summer” a delicate sounding start with what sounds like plucked violin that is layered over field recordings. A chiming like percussion slowly builds up under the violin sounding like a Neubauten-esque percussive source. Vocals and gritty sounds, possibly close recorded rain drops enter alongside scraping and rubbing sounds of the violin with takes us away from the delicate start of the piece. Bird Song field recordings and a rain shower bring back a more tranquil feel with the final couple of minutes relying more on the field recordings than the previous instrument to bring to completion.
“Autumn” a rustling sound possibly from field recordings or even a string instrument creates a shuffling disjointed sound. Distorted sounds rumble as the elements get progressively more agitated and shrill violin joins in with vigorous playing. The music continues on through this style of electroacoustic experimentalism with additional string instruments and what sounds like a toy instrument being played with. Field recordings and bass guitar tones are added sounding random and improvised.
“Winter” ambience tones, glitches and statics, breathy vocals, bass tones create an almost dark ambient piece that still has enough experimental elements to make sure it cannot be classified as such. The track is awash with snatches of sound and the vocals give it an ominous feel
“Spring” ambient tones, strummed string instrument, field recordings lead the listener down an almost serene territory. The track has various different field recordings throughout the journey from church bells, kids talking and insects making noise. Violins cuts in through around the half way make with distorted tones marking the journey through harsher territory. Like the previous track, the music remains fairly the same throughout the thirteen minute duration.
I am not sure what to make of this release. I came in with the expectations that naming the tracks after seasons would be signposts to what I would be hearing. This wasn’t the case. The tracks feel decidedly more experimental in nature than ambient and possibly more theoretical than musical based. The reference to Kigo mentioned in the press release above in regards to assisting the listener evoke memories or feelings is, I guess, is up to the listener, but I personally wouldn’t have placed any of these tracks specifically to the seasons they are named after. Not really my cup of tea, but if you like the more experimental side of things it could be for you.
Rites of Fall
Rites of Fall are a Polish project with their debut Ep mastered by Raphael Anton Irrisari and released on limited cassette and digital. There is very little information that I can glean about the project/band. Their music leans in the dark ambient/electronic vein with other influences filtering in.
“Eden (Last Days)” starts of with a tone, a breathey drone before tremolo like guitar abstractions and similar synth ones cascade across the soundscape casting differing tones. Dubstep like bass, alongside Godflesh style bass and occasional percussion lead through a murky passage with synth shining some light upon the scene. What sounds like ghostly vocal samples hang in the corners of the track while the remainder becomes a bit more claustrophobic before heading out into a synth dominated section that is uplifting. it’s almost like a metal head has discovered electronic music as well has underground sounds and fused these disparate influences together.
“Corpus Resonanticum” double bass drones and cutting electronic sounds build up a deep droney beginning which then is filled with swirls of vocals and bombastic sounds including pulsing electronics and beats. The track ventures into a section of beats, crunchy electronics and those swirling vocals bringing to mind some of the grittier Terminal Sound System music. Chiming guitar or some other string instrument leads into a section where the music gets more progressively noisy with what sounds like distorted synth tones and is quite cinematic in its construction.
“Head Of The Snake” dark drones cut across the soundscape in linear patterns, adding more layers as they come before a bass beat, dark synth and vocals veer the track into ominous territory. Melodic tones and beats change the complexity slightly giving the track a very dark ambient/Electronica feel including the industrial pipe sounds. A pulsing and sweeping section builds up before the beats cascade and a siren like guitar squall reaches for the heavens. The tone of the track becomes more menacing than previous with a crushing feel to it.
“Truthsayer” opens up with metallic wire like synth sounds, taking the music in a more subdued and melodic space than heard previously. In a way it sound positively folky before the electronic elements start to rear their head coating the music with a cloak of uneasiness, as if from some sort of apocalyptic film. Synth progression and clanging sounds, amongst a collection of electronics further steer us into this soundtrack never letting up in their quest to make the listener feel a little uneasy.
Rites of Fall with their debut have managed to in four tracks introduce us to their post apocalyptic vision that balances a variety of genres such as dubstep, Drone, Dark Ambient, Prog and others, but never fully remaining in one genre at all. For fans who like the darker stuff and who always keep one eye focused on whats behind them.
“Scott Worthington is a double bassist and composer based in Los Angeles. As a performer, he plays in chamber ensembles, orchestras, recording studios, and as a soloist. His music has been commissioned by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, Loadbang, the Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble, and numerous soloists. As a performer-composer, Worthington has released two albums to critical acclaim on Populist Records. The most recent, Prism, features his own music for solo bass with electronics and bass ensemble and was named one of The New Yorker’s top ten classical albums of 2015 by Alex Ross. In 2017, Worthington became the principal bass of the Redlands Symphony and the Artist Teacher of Bass at the University of Redlands.
“A Time That Is Also A Place” flute, electronics and a circling drone echo outwards with a breathy feel. A distorted rumbling static drove surrounds, like a swarm with a pulsing center. After dropping out for a brief moment the static returns with a breathier feel. These changing styles continues again with the flute getting more and more subdued by the static. When the flute is by itself the tones are more pronounced. This is an exercise in minimalism and slow change in music.
“Interlude” oscillating drones of murky origin sound like they are passing through a small tunnel. There is a variety of depth from howling through to rumbling distant, with a pulsing core at the center.
“A Flame That Could Go Out” is led by double bass and electronics. The tones verge from deep bassy tones through to more electronic droning ones. The music is of alternating tones as if moving up and down the instrument utilising pace, timing and silence to let notes hang.
I have read several reviews of this release that are positively glowing of this release and I while I hate to be negative, unfortunately I can’t add to them. For my tastes I need something that engages me more. This release is very minimal and I desperately crave more. IIKKI Books releases tend to lean a bit more to the art side of things, such as the statement of a dialog between photographic artist and musician. This could be why I am not feeling this release. People have been effusive in their praise, so I would advise you to check them out (and the Soundcloud preview below) if stripped back minimalism is your thing.