GULTSKRA ARTIKLER: Kasha Iz Topora (Miasmah Recordings)


Posted on Nov 14th 2007 10:54 pm

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Gultskra Artikler: Kasha iz topora

Kasha Iz Topora
Miasmah Recordings 2007
18 Tracks. 66mins48secs

Isn’t technology beautiful? Now that even the cheapest PCs are capable – in the right hands – of sophisticated sound manipulation, the way is open for ever more peculiar people to realize the sounds in their heads no matter how far outside normal musical frames of reference they might be. No longer does a Captain Beefheart need to capture, imprison and brainwash talented young musicians in order to create a Trout Mask Replica. Instead, people with a unique vision need only lock themselves away with a computer and tweak and twist and warp whatever sounds are around them until they have an album’s worth of the sounds that will allow others access to their soundworld. Burial – if the myth is to be believed – is one such visionary, sat in his room with the TV on and an old PC with a fan so knackered it smokes, editing sound without even recourse to a sequencer in pursuit of the perfect aural painting of the fears and joys of the South London night time; and Siberian-born, Moscow-dwelling Alexey Devyanin is without doubt another.

I pick Burial and Captain Beefheart very particularly as points of reference, not because this album sounds anything like either, but precisely because none of them sound like anything else. It is possible to find certain similarities – say, in the way both Burial and Gultskra Artikler take musique concrète completely out of the realm of the academic and make manipulations of unmusical sounds completely musical, or how, like Beefheart, Devyanin manages to create an internal logic so forcefully convincing that utterly off-kilter rhythms begin to normalize themselves in your brain once you’ve immersed yourself in them.

The CD comes packaged with a booklet of collages and stories in Russian; you don’t need to read the language or look up the website to know that these are all rooted in sinister folklore, with the pictures showing bears and old faceless baboushkas lurking in shadowy woodlands, flying axes and topsy-turvy dream physics. If you do look it up, you’ll find out things about magic porridge bowls you never knew you wanted to know but are glad you do. None of which goes any further towards describing what the album actually sounds like, but all of which makes complete sense as you listen to it. The various sounds of chiming bells, creaking doors, lapping waves, frogs and other more unidentifiable but natural-sounding noises which weave around the acoustic guitars and cellos that create the main hooks of the tracks give the whole thing the air of an unfolding uneasy, surreal drama. One could imagine all manner of modern dance pieces or dark Slavic animations being done to this music, but the vital point is that it needs no illustration; the infinitesimal level of detail, the constantly-developing melodies and that vital sense that you are being immersed in the imaginings of a unique mind all mean that this album is an experience in itself, listen after listen.

Though this review so far may suggest otherwise, this album is not artwank. Neither is it clumsy ‘outsider art’ to be consumed voyeuristically. Despite Devyanin’s clear facility both with real instruments and with his software, it sounds like it comes from club/ambient music rather than from the conservatoire, with the need to keep ‘confused’ audiences engaged which that entails, so its sounds are there to be enjoyed first of all beyond any conceptual value. Its more electronic sections have all the outer-space ambient loveliness of early KLF or Orb, and even as the atmosphere darkens the clanks, bangs and radio crackles are there for emotional effect rather than to be endured. If you’ve ever had a bus-ride transformed by a great ambient record on headphones, if you’ve ever felt the otherworldliness of the peculiar indietronica lyricism of bands like Múm or Efterklang, or simply if you need to be reminded that there are still visionary minds out there producing music, then I can’t recommend this album enough.


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One Response to “GULTSKRA ARTIKLER: Kasha Iz Topora (Miasmah Recordings)”

  1. Bretton 04 Jan 2008 at 5:00 am

    A great review for a great album.