Last March an excellent EP appeared from British Columbia, Canada, in which the King Deluxe netlabel showcased work by Siberian performer Ivan Erofeev, aka Aleph. As we mentioned on that first visit to his catalog, this young artist has now left his snowbound village (quite literally) and moved to the city of Omsk. His Canadian colleagues relay Erofeev's enduring conviction that Omsk, despite its bright lights and better jobs, is still an excessively "cold, gray" place to live. As a result, he entertains fantasies of escaping back to the snow and trees. Erofeev, put simply, wants to get out of the city "and dreams of living [once more] in the Siberian wilderness."
Dreams of living in the Siberian wild
Whatever his tenuous location between city and forest, Erofeev continues to write music. Western reviewers have remarked that Aleph "blends various genres whilst holding a steady foot at the dubstep end. There are spacey sounds, unique beats, and some glitchy two-step feelings" throughout his small discography. These kindly words have now been amplified with the release of a new album today, entitled "From Chaos to Cosmos."
Once the sampler was uploaded onto Soundcloud, the positive reactions could be recorded, being both loud and frequent: "You are amazing, man!"; "This is probably going to be on many 2012 Top Ten playlists"; "Wow, the whole album sounds wicked!"
Good reason to smile.
Aleph (Ivan Erofeev, left) with friend, 2012
Erofeev, despite this success, remains tightlipped. He is happier to produce and/or recommend tracks through a range of social networks. The only text of substance evident since last year(!) has been a tiny promo-blurb from King Deluxe. The label's staff remind us that Ivan has a classical education on the violin, but has slowly jettisoned both that instrument and tradition in favor a laptop - which ushers in a spiraling series of influences. "Ivan composes electronic music that's inspired by many other performers - both from Russia and beyond."
As his position within fading traditions and (absent) audiences leads to a sense of aesthetic "homelessness," so new habits and patterns are established in order to map the slow progression from "chaos to cosmos." A sense of home is marked out - sonically - amid bewildering numbers of unfamiliar musicians or the 1.1 million inhabitants of Omsk, all as yet strangers.
I bought some music software, installed it - but didn't understand a thing, and so I deleted it all
The same notion of audible belonging - or marking one's territory - comes forth in the new recordings from St Petersburg beatmaker Cream Child (Nikita Semenov), frequently celebrated on this site. He has a shorter publication available this week for free download: "Dialoque." In recent interviews, this northern artist says he writes music in order to counteract a growing sense of isolation or loneliness after a move to St. Petersburg from the Altai region of southern Siberia. "I'm always troubled by a ton of ideas [alone, at home]... Once I bought some music software, installed it - but didn't understand a thing, and so I deleted it all. But then, six months later, I took another look and got to grips with it!"
Somber, solo efforts continue.
In this way Semenov builds repetitious patterns that'll "fill the loneliness" and combat a related sense of stress. Given, though, the high level of self-criticism here, orderly structures designed on a computer are often deleted, together with the software that created them. What exactly, one might ask, lies beyond a metronymic tick-tock of comforting repetition if we're looking for a soundtrack to stability? What kind of structural patterns in this one-man process might overcome self-deprecation and foster a sense of stable, fixed "residency"? Which sounds best negate alienation?
Oddly enough, Semenov hopes to build increasingly intricate works to the point where his own authorship fades in significance. In other words, he only feels truly content with a track when it's sufficiently baroque - or rich with composite elements - for the rational, conscious process of creativity to end. Carefully built mosaics begin to reveal internal relations or associations that were not originally planned: "When I see that a track is 'no longer mine,' so to speak - in other words, when the creative process is happening spontaneously - then all's well. I mean that [rare] moment when I'm neither 'turning something out' nor applying a method of some sort."
Interlocking motifs, time signatures, sound bites, and so forth are arranged in ways that seem to enjoy a separate existence. Busy networks of activity - made by one man - give the impression of their own, internal chatter. In the absence of a recognizable social sphere, a sonic one will do nicely.
When the creative process is happening spontaneously, then all's well
Semenov then adds a related thought on the subject of this audible, welcoming habitus. All is well, he says, "When it seems like somebody's composing the music for you - and you're just watching." These repetitions, rhymes, and other systems are engineered within remoteness. Slowly, he feels, they become a self-generating algorithm - one helped by a related pacing around increasingly familiar streets. Sounds and spaces are mapped out as one's own. He says the ideal working pattern would be as follows: "I'd wake up, write, go for a walk, think a little, come back home, and write some more... I'd never get tired of that."
A perpetuum mobile, in various senses, and made from various fragments.
What results from these looping, interlocking samples and strolls is not so much a feeling of linear "progress" as an increasingly rich or inclusive system, amid which moments of insight suddenly, unexpectedly appear. Linkages emerge that were not originally planned (thanks more to chaos theory than to creativity!). One of the best insights into this sort of fleeting epiphany comes this week from the Odessa musician Alexander Bezrodny, who performs as Dubdelight. He speaks of his output not as slow, methodical progress, but as rare moments of resolve that spark amid snowballing networks.
We start with an etymology of his stage-name: "Delight! [Voskhishchenie] It feels like a bright and clearly defined vibration. It excites your imagination and calms your soul at the same time... It's like a gulp of cold cola on a hot summer's day. Or like relaxing on some exotic island, perhaps? Anything seems possible when you feel that way. Try and maintain that sensation...!" Moments of rapture, however, are valued so highly precisely because they vanish. Absence makes the heart grow desperate.
It's like a theater! Listen... (Cream Child)
Bezrodny continues in his celebration of that which never stays: "This feeling is concentrated in tiny doses of self-awareness. They occur just for a second... Delight itself is love - a source of everyday joy, our bottomless well of inspiration." In other words, these momentary, yet intense sensations of belonging come not from a concrete address. Flashes of insight - of conclusive meaning - appear within the disorderly workings of increased effort. "Cosmos," so to speak, again emerges from within chaos.
The metaphors of creative zeal - and resultant delight - from these three musicians have a certain poetry to them, in that what appear to be coincidences gradually become - through reiteration - linkages. They operate just like rhymes or, as Nikita Semenov says of "Dialoque": "It's like a theater! Listen..." Patterns of seeming coincidence reveal themselves as part of a grander design, a different story, and a better place. If the events of surrounding, ostensible actuality prove dissatisfying, then these Russian and Ukrainian artists invite audiences to close their eyes, don some headphones and imagine a superior script. Set in a better place.