Exit in Grey: Shadows of Stillness
Muzyka Voln

If there's a key that opens Exit in Grey's Shadows of Stillness, it can be found in the short note Sergey (or [S] as the Russian producer is also known) has seen fit to include on the forty-seven-minute album's inner sleeve, which reads in part: “These tracks are … a kind of reaction to the psychological environments surrounding me. The feeling of futility against all-consuming time while attempting to realize oneself socially and creatively. The bustle of the constantly Acting and Sounding as opposed to the serenity and permanence of Stillness.” Given that somewhat despairing statement, it's perfectly understandable that some degree of turbulence and turmoil would find their way into the album's four ambient-drone settings. Peacefulness might be intimated by one part of the title Shadows of Stillness, but it would be wrong to overlook the shadowy side of the equation.

Certainly the storm rippling through the opening piece, “The Sunset Dust in our Hands,” brings with it no small degree of gloom, and the industrial machine noise that surfaces two-thirds of the way through the fifteen-minute setting does little to make the mood any sunnier. As we come to the finish line, however, some sense of stability and calm begins to assert itself when synthesizers assume a more dominant role and the field recording elements recede from view. “Shadows” envelops the listener in an opaque shroud of shuddering haze and wave-like resonances, while “Speaking with Silence,” if anything, plunges the listener into an even murkier ambient-drone realm, one so murky, in fact, that the material begins to resemble Popul Vuh in a particularly psychedelic frame of mind. Of the four tracks, “So Beautiful and Quiet Place” is undoubtedly the most bucolic in tone, and the fact that Sergey has elected to position it last suggests that one should exit the album with some feeling of hope.

Shadows of Stillness isn't by any stretch the debut outing from Exit In Grey, which once included two members—Stas and Sergey, aka (S) and [S]—but which is now Sergey only. Established in 2004, the group is credited with having released over a dozen albums (mostly on CD-R and cassette) on labels such as Daphnia Records, Mystery Sea, Abgurd, and YAOP. Sergey created the latest material using guitars, harmonium, a Polyvox synthesizer, and field recordings (including long frequency radio waves of the Earth's atmosphere and space bodies). There's a rugged and raw quality to Exit In Grey's material that puts a healthy degree of distance between it and the more pastoral style of ambient, but, for what it's worth, a little bit of disturbance is never unwelcome in these parts.

February 2014