Gultskra Artikler: Kasha iz topora

Gultskra Artikler's Kasha iz topora is the latest release from Moscow-based electronic experimentalist Alexey Devyanin, with the group now a solo affair in the wake of Dmitry Garin's departure. Kasha iz topora's a concept album of sorts, with eighteen pieces collectively recounting a bizarre Russian fairytale about evil Siberian monsters, a king's daughters, and a man with an axe that makes flying porridge, but English-speaking unilingualists needn't waste time scanning the elaborate, collage-filled booklet for help, as all of its text (aside from credits) is set entirely in Russian. Of course, being an all-instrumental album, one can ignore the conceptual background and simply broach the work on purely sonic terms. Doing so, once confronts a mystifying patchwork of constantly mutating character seemingly intent on leaving the listener in a perpetual state of disorientation; certainly there are no melodic hooks extricating themselves from the psychedelic electroacoustic mass to grab onto. Thankfully, Ilya Rubinstein's cello establishes some degree of coherence whenever it rises to the surface of Devyanin's turbulent ocean of broken-down percussive clatter, strange field recordings, and electronic manipulations. The album isn't without its occasional pleasures, however. “Jubga,” for instance, offers a rare moment of placid calm but, like the material in general, its appeal is compromised by an arrangement that's overly dense. The opening two minutes of “Krovinka Moya” stand out for restrainedly focusing on a repeating theme, but the effect is negated in the piece's remaining four minutes when the theme is drowned in excess. Put simply, Devyanin deserves full marks for boldness and audacity, but the overly-cluttered arrangements that dominate Kasha iz topora prove wearying and claustrophobic in the long run. In short, a subtler handling of the material would have proved more satisfying.

November 2007