SiJ & Textere Oris: Reflections Under the Sky
The forty-five minutes of ambient-electronic sound presented on Reflections Under the Sky suggest that its collaborators are very clearly kindred spirits. Composed between 2014 and 2015, the album documents what happens when you pool the collective talents of Moscow, Russia-based electronic music producer Ilya Fursov (aka Textere Oris) and self-taught Ukrainian artist Vladislav Sikach (aka SiJ). It's pitched as a “field recordings-focused release,” but while that's not wholly inaccurate the soundworld featured on Reflections Under the Sky extends far beyond the realm of a standard field recordings project. Further to that, a scan of the production details implies as much when the two are credited with synthesizer, keyboards, contact mics, noises, guitar, percussion, toy piano, voice, and sampling. It would be more correct to state that the recording achieves a carefully considered balance between musical elements and real-world environmental sounds.
While all seven settings differ subtly, they're united in their adherence to Cryo Chamber's dark ambient aesthetic, and each presents an ultra-atmospheric landscape whose brooding character is bolstered by field recordings detail. The hazy washes drifting through “Near the Dam” are drenched by constant drizzle, the combination of which conjures the image of a remote, fog-covered nightscape through which an exhausted hiker trudges, desperately in search of some familiar marker. “Behind the Window,” by comparison, generates its own haunted aura of doom through a combination of wailing voices and crackling fires. In contrast to those harrowing soundscapes, “First Snow” suggests something less oppressive when piano and glockenspiel accents tinkle alongside a dense textural base. To their credit, Fursov and Sikach exercise restraint in their execution of the material, resisting throughout any temptation to shatter the mood with histrionic gestures.The two definitely have a few surprises up their sleeves, the most startling of which arrives when a techno-tribal beat pattern, of all things, makes its way in amongst bird chirps, echo-laden whooshes, and guitar textures during the gloom-laden “Lost.” There's much to like about the recording, from its richly evocative sound design to its concision. The two presumably could have assembled a seventy-minute collection but instead settled on a release long enough to satisfy but short enough to leave the listener wanting more. It's rare to be met with such a refreshing mindset these days, which makes it all the more welcome when it crosses one's path.