The Moscow-based Datenbits label was founded four years ago - in its own words - as a "stage for international performers." Despite that global intention, however, the project has remained slightly narrower in its stylistic preferences: most Datenbits publications can be confidently tagged as idm, techno, or dub techno. The most recent of these recordings has now appeared domestically - yet far from home. In other words, we're dealing with a Russian musician from Novosibirsk, which is almost two thousand miles from the capital by (winding) road. The artist in question is Vladimir Lemzhin, who performs as Volodey. Active in music since 2005, he recently gave an interview that neatly frames his newest work, "Deeper Man."
Lemzhin is especially grateful for the support of colleagues in distant places. Beginning with a fellow Novosibirsk composer who made some Volodey remixes - and then moved with those tracks to St. Petersburg - any sense of isolation has also been overcome with internet stations. They offer a unique ability to answer the considerable challenges or obstacles of Russian geography. Currently, Datenbits' general endorsement of a move from tangible to virtual space has meant that Volodey's music plays sometimes from locations as faraway as Ibiza or Toronto.
This has so much bounce! Gets the head bobbin'! (Soundcloud)
These "ethereal" linkages also seem to promise a superior, kinder interaction to whatever's possible in local spheres. Very recently on a networking site, Lemzhin posted a long, detailed series of facts and figures relating to how Russia's last three presidents have allegedly "improved" the nation. There was much to ponder and little to celebrate.
As our scare quotes already suggest, the general impression was neither positive (regarding the past) nor optimistic (regarding the future). Economic, social, and moral changes in society were documented in ways that - quite literally - equated the problems of post-Soviet times to the havoc brought by German troops in WWII. The nation and its residents had purportedly suffered more under democracy than during a Fascist invasion. Anyone harboring this degree of regret or skepticism about ostensible reality is very likely to seek - and find - something better online.
One of the most positive examples of how the web transcends distance (and dolor) appears in the project known as Shampoo Voyagers, who recently posted the following statement: "We're proud to announce the publication of thirteen new tracks, written over the course of the last year - and combined as an album. It's all called 'Distances'... Somehow, despite everything [i.e. despite spatial and fiscal hassles], the most wonderful things can occur!" The two names behind this upbeat outlook are Maxim Ananyev and Nikita Moor.
Drafts and sketches slowly become tracks
Ananyev has long been familiar to us through his own instrumental project - Tree Bosier - in the eastern city of Khabarovsk. That region's oldest records are buried deep in fifth-century Chinese and Korean chronicles; few Russian locations are further from Europe. As for Mr. Moor, he lives in Moscow. Between these two artists lie more than 5,000 miles of fir-trees, ice, and snow. Nonetheless, they have now joined creative forces.
New patterns come into view - from afar.
Any investigation into the endeavors of these two men soon makes it clear that physical distance is overcome in simple, mobile patterns that help to strike a productive balance between isolation and (private) invention. Privacy is respected and productivity assisted. Ananyev and Moor work by swapping files across the web: "The project's main style is fundamentally downtempo - it's a[n audible] realm where lounge and nu-jazz meet glitch and experimental tendencies." These two - happily removed - individuals enjoy each other's absence(!) and thus spin easy-going tales of optimistic, free movement.
A recent chat with Satellite Voices produced some context for Shampoo Voyagers, specifically through a fuller explanation of the band's name. The musicians happily likened the audio files or weightless, digital building blocks of their work to fragile, "flying soap bubbles. They're like [sonic] fragments that we send to each other across huge distances - from east to west and back again!"
A slick and jazzy downtempo flow...
Ananyev and Moor then state that "our music is closely associated with those distances, with movement, and traveling, too." Not with debilitating aloneness, but with new trajectories - i.e., with free passage that only becomes possible if one first retreats from the claustrophobia of city life. And 5,000 miles is probably more than enough. Should we wish to extend these measurements further, a journey to Connecticut might do the trick. Here we find Grappa Frisbee Records, a small US label specializing in "abstract ideas."
Grappa Frisbee have just announced the release of an album by Moscow's Kinnel: "Fuse." Behind that stage-name stands young Vova Nosov. Until 2012 he performed under the guise of Madfriend, but has now adopted a new identity.
That second moniker comes with a new manifesto or credo in Russian: "Kinnel produces warm and melodic compositions full of contradictory rhythms, light and airy beats, plus the occasional vocal sample, too. This is music made from the microscopic components of a holiday mood - the kind you sense at the outset of spring. This, after all, is the time of year when the final layers of snow are beginning to melt, and the entire world celebrates - dappled in sunshine."
The final layers of snow are beginning to melt, and the entire world celebrates - dappled in sunshine
As we've mentioned before, Mr. Nosov actually lives about thirty miles from the capital's center, in a region known as Elektrostal'. As that name might imply, even without the help of a dictionary, this is a section of Moscow's periphery that once benefitted greatly from industrial development under the Soviets. Warm and sunny sounds are very welcome amid the ailing factories. We've also noted in the past some of the expressions of gratitude at Soundcloud - such as the following:" "This is so relaxing. It's music that makes me zone out and think about clouds 'n' sh*t."
Arguably the grandest sweep of all today - in response to geography's contrariness - comes from the producer Micbeatz, whose career has already spanned the distance from Minsk to St. Petersburg. Thanks to the netlabel Strogo, a new LP is on display: "Confession."
Based - as we see below - in various forms of yearning, the album is framed by its publisher thus: "Each of the fourteen tracks is a declaration of love... They're full of summery motifs, disco rhythms, and all played with skill. These fresh sounds will help you have fun - all summer long; they'll also shorten the cold winter evenings [in the meantime]."
Micbeatz's previous release had directed the sounds of desire far beyond any distant, sunny shore. It had drawn upon the symbolism of the Swadhisthana chakra. The Swadhisthana is closely associated with water - and the formless workings of our unconscious, often sexual desire. According to ancient teachings, once one is able to overcome the pull of such desires, the fear of one's surroundings will evaporate. Things spiritual might, therefore, trump the physical world - sooner or later.
It's full of summery motifs to shorten the cold winter evenings
Sentiment then comes to the aid of spirituality. Micbeatz himself recently published some words of gratitude for his swelling fan-base at home in Belarus. He reminded people about the importance of love - as trust - and the way in which mutual dependence engenders a process famously summarized on "Abbey Road": "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." And vice versa. Or, in the words of our Minsk producer: "Love isn't any old feeling. It's the reason for our existence. It's the cause of all reality and the meaning of life!" A smiley face follows. "And remember: the more love you give out, the more it'll return to you."
It's all a matter of trust, best developed online - and then returned to earth.