Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: Alexey Pushkin - The Figure (Avant Archive, 2010)

While the “New Weird Russia” term is used to describe the wave of Russian musicians corresponding the work of their imperial friends with their own, Eastern brand of psychedelic folk and organic ambient, there is a slowly, yet steadily growing scene of psychedelic electronic music makers parallel with the trippertronic artists from the US of A. Alexey Pushkin, more well-known under the pseudonym Analog Concept, as whom he has already released Soviet-synth curios on such heavyweight labels as Stunned Records, has prepared a tape under his real name collecting years of work in many genres of electronic music (the label page describes The Figure as a “portfolio of sorts”). At 60 minutes long, the cassette is an exhilarating ride through many faces of electronica, from vintage synthscapes to glossy Germanic techno.
What is probably most surprising about the tape is how rhythm-heavy it is – ambient and drone is in minority here, it’s the thumping sounds of techno, minimal techno and microhouse that seem to be taking the spotlight here. Out of twelve tracks on the entire tape, only three can be considered ambient: the “Green Charm” and “Green Beauty” on side A, both based on a gently rolling, slightly layered bassy drone and the two minute interlude, “Rumble” on side B, which is simply a raw, pulsing, low-frequency drone. Pushkin seems to be fascinated by minimal German electronics of the 90’s and 00’s, as well as early IDM, like “Camera”, a track featuring fractured drum patterns and on-the-fly effect experimentation which sounds not unlike Autechre circa LP5 or AFX. Sometimes Alexey will go into the more familiar territory, like in  field recordings soaked “Ambient Conception”, which sounds almost like something to come out from the studio of some Kosmische Musik visionary in the early 1970’s.
But it is where Pushkin sounds the most modern where he is also the strongest – like on sterile “Technology (Part Two)”, a glitchy, minimal techno pearl reminiscent of the Clicks & Cuts compilations, or the absolute pinnacle of the entire album, a nearly 8 minute “Blue Up”, a futuristic microhouse dream setting subliminal, soothing pulses to a wall of hazy ambience, which appears to be inspired both by Wolfgang Voigt’s legendary Gas as well as Jan Jelinek and his Farben outfit.
In the scene full of nearly cookie-cutter new-New-Age-zoned-out-calm-ambient releases, Alexey Pushkin (together with Eric Lanham’s Carl Calm project) might bring the psychedelic electronic tape scene to the dancefloor. I really hope Alexey Pushkin (and other musicians) will keep working their bridge from the psychedelic drone tape scene to the ultra-polished glitch/minimal techno/microhouse scene. The result might be more exciting than we expect.

If you liked what you heard in digital form, make sure to buy the tape on the Avant Archive website!

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