Released late last year on the Russian Dronarivm label, “Fragments of Scattered Whispers”, Endless Melancholy’s second vinyl release (and possibly into double figures in regards to full length albums) sees Ukrainian artist Oleksiy Sakevych build on the work he has been producing since 2011. The result is quite possibly his most realised album. Initially a Modern Classical pianist and a fine one at that, over recent years has seen him expand on his sound, including bringing in other influences from his projects such as Moonshine Blues, which his previous drone release “The Vacation” demonstrated. For this album he utilizes the input of Krzyzstof Sujata (aka Valiska) for tape manipulations with the album having a flowing, almost singular feel.
“Arriving on CD, digital and heavyweight vinyl editions, ‘Fragments of Scattered Whispers’ is a collection of soft piano melodies and transparent ambient textures, gently flowing one into another. On this album Endless Melancholy continues with the tape sound explorations, started on his previous album ‘The Vacation’, but in a new, more distinctive way. On this occasion, Oleksiy teamed up with Krzysztof Sujata (known for his musical outfit Valiska), who did some outstanding job on processing the tracks through different kinds of tape recorders and mastering them afterwards. Accompanied by a stunning artwork by an acclaimed artist Gregory Euclide, ‘Fragments of Scattered Whispers’ is meant to evoke hazy reminiscences from the deepest corners of listener’s mind, like a blurry photograph suddenly falling out of an old book.“
The opener “Prologue (For A Broken Tape Recorder) ” is a short, but sweet track that in a way acts as an intro for “Postcards”. The track sounds like a piece of degraded ambience covered in static hiss that gently rises in a melodic swell before fading and making way for “Postcards”, a track that nicely pairs fluid string drones, emotive synths and brittle chimes that have a hint of the degradation from the opener. There is a nice balance between leaning to the melancholic side of the strings and the misty nostalgia of the chimes, smoothed out by the ambience that lies in the middle. Fuzzy synth pulses and minimalist, slightly stark piano take the piece in an altogether slightly soaring feel, with the strings coming back reminding us of their beauty and also reigning in a little of that hope. “Will You Be There” takes some of the dronier aspects of the previous album and soaks them in tape decay while covering them with a submerged melodic drone that gives the piece the counterpoint and balances out the tones. “In Transition From Anxiety To Acceptance” expands on the previous track with a piano/keyboard motif of rippling tones becoming more pronounced than the previous track, with long drawn out drones, slightly harsher tones and fragments of other sounds filling up the soundscape. As the piece evolves the change of sound and texture is slowly noticeable as Sakevych gradually introduces elements so that by the end of this piece the music has changed to this tightly pulses drone piece, with just the tiniest hints of melody underneath.. While not wholly cinematic, parts of the track conjure up images of washed out cold desolate street scenes.
“Her Fragrant Beauty” is a track noticeable for going under Sujata’s tape manipulations with the piano have a warped sound that slowly emerges. The track opens with a drone straight from the end of the previous one, nicely tieing in the pieces. The fragility of the piano (which has that natural close recorded sound) and the way the manipulations warp it, give it a sense of blurred memories as if some are clear while others are a little fuzzy. The track has full degeneration towards the end where it feels like only a tiny bit of the essence remains. Tape hiss and distortion emerges at the end leaching into the next track “Amaranthine”. Not to confused with the Enya track of the same name, “Amaranthine” which is a Greek word that means everlasting or immortal, sees the light, albeit soaked in hiss returning. The ambience has the type of soaring, light, airy feel that is uplifting. Rather than be overpowering, the tape hiss takes a certain amount of the sweetness out of it, while brittle piano tones add an extra layer of sound and bring it back to a more organic feel.
The build up of ambience that featured in “Amaranthine” takes centre stage in “Like A Sudden Glimpse of Shimmering Light” overflowing for the most part. While there are times where the music does dip back into noisier sections, it feels like for this and the final three songs (perhaps a trilogy of sorts) that the corner has been somewhat turned. There is a vibrancy to the music which comes out in the sweeping drones, pace and uses of space between notes and allowing the drones to fully unwind. This carries on with “Slumber Waves” a piece that returns the piano to the core of the music (not forgetting where Sakevych started). This is probably for me the highlight piece, as despite the fact that it is the most stripped back, it offers something so personal and intimate. There is an echoic quality to the music, like it has been recorded on old vintage gear that have given it that sort of “Hum” you expect. The ambience that pairs with the piano has just the right about of menace to make it a moody piece with a reveberant touch. The tape hiss is present and while not overpowering, I feel could be removed as it, for me doesn’t add to the piece. A shame that it is only a little over three minutes in length as I could happily listen to twice that length. Sakevych ends the album strongly with “Washed Away By Strong Currents” a graceful drone piece that reveals itself to be multifaceted and layered. Just when you think that you might have an idea of where it is going it elevates up a notch and builds a soaring almost like a vocal choir soundscape that could lead the piece out on a swell of sound. Instead the track completely changes to the warped sound of “Her Fragrant Beauty” with the manipulations having a similar effect to that track.
You tend to forget about Sakevych’s piano playing as with albums such as this , “The Vacation” and “In The Shadow Of History. He has expanded his sound from earlier releases such as “Memories” and “”Dreams”. By putting this into the back of your mind it allows you to be nicely surprised when he just sits behind the piano and plays, because you have been focusing on all these other elements you forget the beauty of his piano pieces. Recommended.
“Fragments of Scattered Whispers’ is available on CD/LP/Digital via Dronarivm.