From Aural Innovations #10 (June 2000)
Artemiy Artemiev - "The Warning" (Electroshock Records 1997, ELCD 001)
Artemiy's first release on Electroshock consists of majestic orchestral keyboard excursions along the lines of Vangelis and mid-70's Tangerine Dream. The music tours through a series of themes, and each movement segues smoothly into the next. Artemiev's keyboards are embellished by some real drums and percussion, and guests on violin and oboe. This is serious image-inducing music and the journey for this listener is one of many moods, the most powerful of which is a great exodus across vast rocky terrains and mountain ranges. The feeling isn't dark, but steps cautiously as it evolves.
Artemiy Artemiev - "Cold" (Electroshock Records 1997, ELCD 002)
Artemiev's goal on "Cold", as the title suggests, is to "experiment with sound trying to make listeners not only to feel cold in the body, but also to hear its coming by ears and soul". He's off to a good start with track titles like "Waiting For Winter", "A Polar Night", and the ultimate "Freezing". The mood is darker, than The Warning, certainly more sombre, though in no way depressing. The music is also less fully symphonic than The Warning, with Artemiev utilizing lighter and more focused electronic patterns and textures to communicate his arctic message. Some of the music also has a more mechanical, droning quality, conjuring up images of a desolate (and, of course, "cold") world.
Artemiy Artemiev - "Point Of Intersection" (Electroshock Records 1997, ELCD 003)
The goal on this release is "to find a point of intersection of two genres of music - electronic & electroacoustic and two cultures - Eastern & Western". So what makes electroacoustic music distinct from electronic music? When I think of electroacoustic I think of "sound" itself, and the use of sound to create music. I also think of music which, like musique concrète, isn't necessarily intended to induce any specific imagery, which is indeed what electronic music so easily does. (Artemiy confirmed my uncertain definition when asked.) Point Of Intersection is certainly a more abstract work than the previous two recordings, but for me the imagery is still ever-present and the music is only slightly more abstract than that heard on Cold. There does seem to be more of a focus on sound and the result is a set of quieter, but busier, and perhaps even more interesting tracks than the previous releases. So perhaps Artemiev has indeed found the intersection he's looking for.
Artemiy Artemiev - "Five Mystery Tales Of Asia" (Electroshock Records 1998, ELCD 007)
"Five Mystery Tales Of Asia" is just that... A composer's view on the union of China and Hong Kong, an old Mongolian folk song, a journey under the great wall of China, the mysteries of the Ming Dynasties, and touching the stars from the top of a Mongolian mountain. And to set the tone for these tales Artemiev "experiments with the timbres and native instruments of Mongolia, China, and Japan". The music on this CD still doesn't approach the full symphonic sound of The Warning, but now that I'm immersed in the fourth of Artemiev's recordings I'm thinking that his music is at its most expressive when he's playing quieter, yet more intricate electronic tapestries. I really enjoyed the pulsating drones, spiritual chanting, and assorted freaky sounds on this disc, accompanied by various flute and bell sounds, some of which had a pleasing dissonant quality. Less New Agey than The Warning, but far more interesting and adventurous in my opinion.
Artemiy Artemiev - "Mysticism Of Sound" (Electroshock Records 1999, ELCD 009)
"Mysticism Of Sound" is full of gorgeous atmospheric space drones. Powerful imagery for this listener, of actually being in the darkest corners of space. "Pictures Of I. Bosch & P. Bruegel" is an 18 minute space drone which develops very slowly, like a ship that's lost all power floating through space, led on its seemingly random course by an unseen force. "Part I of the title track includes more space drones, but far more sounds and what seems like crowds of ghostly voices that ramble and groan without ever forming words. The atmosphere is dark and even a bit frightening. The intensity increases on "Cataclysms Of The XX Century" and the sounds consist of both machine-shop industrial clangs, bangs, and drones on the one hand, and shrill screams on the other. And Part II of the title track is the most experimental of the four cuts on this CD. Lots of freakiness and found sounds... abstract yet accessible, making this release my favorite of Artemiev's five solo CD's.
Artemiy Artemiev & Phillip B. Klingler - "Dreams In Moving Space" (Electroshock Records 2000, ELCD 014)
I don't know who Phillip B. Klinger is and an internet search turned up nothing. But this release is more an exploration of sounds than mood and imagery. The resulting atmosphere is dark and the music is similar to Point Of Intersection and, to a lesser degree, Mysticism Of Sound, though it lacks the intensity that I enjoyed so much on Mysticism. The themes don't vary much, the musicians setting a fixed course around which they slowly assemble their orchestra of sound. Actually this is probably the most abstract of Artemiev's recordings I've heard yet, particularly the relatively short track "Between People, Or Within", a five minute primoridial soup of spacey banging, static, and industrial sounds. Short, but to the point, and my favorite track on the disc. "Murmurs Across The Surface" is the track that comes closest to qualifying for inclusion on Mysticism Of Sound, another voyage into the darkest (and freakiest!) corners of space.
Artemiy Artemiev & Peter Frohmader - "Space Icon" (Electroshock Records 2000, ELCD 015)
Now here's a gem for Aural Innovations readers. The title track is like old Ash Ra Tempel with a groove! Steady repeating bass and percussion rhythms, including lots of background synth textures and Frohmader jamming along on his guitar... trippy, slightly jazzy in parts, jam rockin' in others. It has a great cosmiche jam feel but is more linear and controlled than the music of the heady pioneering 70's. The music becomes more standard electronica from track two on and I wish they would have kept the momentum of the first track going. "Cosmic Jungle" is the other track that caught my attention, being a floating trippy cosmiche journey. The percussion rhythms are present, though not continuous, and play a less prominent role than on the magnificent title track. But this 23-minute piece moves through a number of themes. There are electronic drones and hip-hoppy beats bopping along with freaky playful space synths. This track has some great moments but not consistently throughout. Still, the title track alone is worth the price of admission.
Edward Artemiev - "The Odyssey" (Electroshock Records 1998, ELCD 008)
Edward Artemiev - "Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker" (Electroshock Records 1999, ELCD 012)
Artemiy's father, Edward Artemiev, has been a noted electronic music composer in Russia since the 1960's, and has been active in film as these these two CD's attest. "The Odyssey" is the soundtrack to the American TV movie based on Homer's Odyssey. The music is well done and, having seen the film, the imagery it conjured up totally focused my mind on the movie. Artemiev's music is highly emotional and perfect for the continual changes in action and scenary that this story presents, and I can easily see how he's been successful getting hired for soundtrack work. Far more adventurous, however, is the "Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker" CD, which includes selections from the soundtracks to three Andrei Tarkovskiy films that Artemiev scored. There's quite a variety of music and sound here and, not surprisingly, the spaciest stuff is from the Solaris soundtrack. I'd seen Solaris before and got it again from the library after receiving this CD. For those who haven't seen Solaris, it's a beautifully filmed science fiction flick. The soundtrack is a true journey through the cosmos, and while I liked The Odyssey, this one would appeal to AI readers far more. Well crafted spaced out electronica. I'll have to see if I can track down The Mirror and Stalker on video.
Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music Volume #3 (Electroshock Records 1999, ELCD
Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music Volume #4 (Electroshock Records 1999, ELCD 011)
Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music Volume #5 (Electroshock Records 2000, ELCD 013)
Electroshock also has an interesting compilation series and Aural Innovations was sent volumes 3-5. "Electroacoustic Music Volume #3" features a variety of electronic compositions, some delving into the avant-garde. Among the standout tracks is one from John Palmer who performs an avant-classical noise freakout, most of which sounds like the destruction of a violin. Pete Stollery's contribution begins as what could be a solo synth demonstration of wild keyboard runs, but then segues into a minimalist exploration into sound. Rudiger Gleisbert's track is more symphonic and melodic than the other tracks. But my favorite track is from Alejandro Iglesias-Rossi who offers a minimalist synth exploration, though the music soon develops into a classical/orchestral, though still avant-garde, piece near the end. Part Phantom Of The Opera, part operatic thunderstorm, it's quite intense. There's also a track from the great Hans Joachim Roedelius.
"Electroacoustic Music Volume IV" is a collection of tracks dedicated to 'ANS', the first Russian synthesizer, created by Evgeniey Murzin over a 20 year period (1937-1957). Murzin only made one copy of the ANS and the 12 tracks on this disc were recorded by Russian musicians between 1964-1971, hence the sub-title "Archive Tapes Synthesiser ANS". The tracks are all spacey electronic excursions and I can imagine the music must have been quite mind-blowing for its time. Far from being simple exploratory noodlings and knob-twiddlings by the curious, the contributors are clearly familiar with their instrument and have produced well thought out creative compositions. And given the context of the time it was recorded the music is quite impressive and should appeal particularly to those interested in the history of electronic music.
"Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music Volume #5" features a variety of music, and several of the tracks are classic in style giving a true concert hall feel, orchestra and all. The tracks by Peeter Uahi, Robin Julian Heifetz, Karda Estra, and Anatoliy Pereselegin fell into this territory, with Pereselegin's being something like a violin concerto. Claire Laronde's contribution was one of my favorites being an ethereal space journey that utilizes numerous competing singing tones and bells on the one hand, and light industrial sounds exploring more avant-garde territory on the other. A seemingly simple piece that carefully blends its arsenal of sounds and really held my attention over the 15 minute length. The great Dieter Moebius strengthens the set with the CD's only true freaky electronic space excursion. Bubbling and gurgling synths along with an assortment of interesting, if unidentifiable, sounds make this a cool spaced out freak-fest. And Christopher De Laurenti plays a full symphonic electronic piece á al Vangelis and the like.
With so much music we decided to throw a few questions at Artemiy to give us more insight into his world...
AI: Tell me about the rock groups you were in prior to switching to electronic music. Were these pop bands? Progressive rock bands?
AA: I began studying music when I was 4 years old. My mother is a professional pianist and she and my father decided that it was necessary to teach me piano. At this time they even didn't think of me as a composer. So at 7 I went to musical school, then musical college, and at last I graduated from the conservatory as a classical pianist. During my study at music college I also played keyboards in various Moscow rock groups and even formed my own group "Doctor" (1983-1991). But in 1989 I left the group, quit rock music, and began experimenting with sounds and samplers. For me it was more interesting then playing rock. Also in 1989 I began scoring films and collecting equipment for my future studio.
AI: It would seem that the influence of your father's work would explain your switch to electronic music. Is this correct or is there more to the story?
AA: I consider my father to be my first teacher of electronic and film music and of course his music influenced my activities. He is considered to be a pioneer of electronic music in this country. He began composing electronic music in the early 60's on the first Russian synthesiser, "ANS". "ANS" was used by my father for creating soundtracks for such films as "Mirror" and "Solaris" (A. Tarkovskiy), and "Siberiade" (A. Kontchalovskiy). This instrument was located in the Moscow Experimental Studio of Electronic Music (1968-1980), and since 1972 I spent a lot of time in this studio. There I listened to the music of such groups and composers as "King Crimson", "Genesis", "Yes", Klaus Schulze, "Tangerine Dream", played on "ANS", "Synthi-100", and attended rehearsals of my fathers' group "Boomerang". I saw how my father worked with instruments, and I tried to understand the process of creating electronic music. For me it was magic. And my father was a magician - surrounded by various apparatuses, synthesisers, lamps, etc. who was making all these machines to sound. I tried composing electronic music while I was playing in my rock-group "Doctor". Together we made 4 albums and in each album I tried to make something special with sound, to make music sound more electronic and experimental. My last recording with this group - "A Look Upon Life" (1988) - practically was my first solo album (hopefully someday I'll publish it on the "Electroshock Records" label). I composed all the music and made this project sound experimental and electronic. I left the group immediately after this album. The guys decided to play rock, but I rejected this idea as I was interested in electronic music. And during this time I began scoring student films. (our rehearsals base was in the institute of cinematography and many future film directors came to our rehearsals and asked me to create sounds for their films or score them.) It was a great practice for me and many students became my friends. Later on (after their graduation from the institute) I continued working on their films.
AI: What musicians have influenced you the most? And who do you consider to be some of the more interesting and exciting of today's musicians?
AA: As for the music that I liked then I can say that I liked classic, contemporary and electroacoustic music, especially electroacoustic. I think that this particular genre of music is more interesting (personally for me) because it combines classical forms and leaves more space for experimenting with sound, samplers, acoustic instruments, noises and computers. "Through the noise comes the sound and through the sound comes the music". These are not my words. These words belong to one of the greatest composers of concrete music - PIERRE SCHAEFFER - who began his experiments with sound in 1948. These are the composers who influenced my music and whom I continue to listen to - Edward Artemiev, Gyorgy Ligety, Edgar Varese, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbit, Brian Eno, Pierre Bouleze, Francis Dhomond, Ennio Marricone, John Williams, John Cage, Jerry Goldsmith, Pierre Henry, Alejandro Vinao, Earle Brown, Herbert Eimert, York Holler, Takehisa Kosugi, Steve Reigh, Henri Pousseur, Klaus Schulze, Pierre Schaeffer, Graham Bowers, Steve Roach, Luigi Nono, Harold Budd, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Gordon Mumma. Also I like such groups as King Crimson, UK, The Who, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, jazz-composers and musicians - Bob James, Terje Rypdail, Herbie Hancock, Chick Korea, Jaco Pastorius, classical composers - Gustav Mahler, Richard Wagner, P. I. Tchaykovskiy, Igor Stravinskiy, Antonio Vivaldi, Edward Grieg. My favourite film composers are Ennio Marricone, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Vangelis, and of course Edward Artemiev. For films I compose not only electronic music. It varies from classic to pop, from jazz to rock. Composing music for films and theatre plays is my main work. By this I earn my living. And I do what film directors want me to do. In this country the main figure in the process of making films or theatre plays is the director, not the producer. As for the inspiration then I can say that my inspiration comes from the films of Bernardo Bertolucci, Federico Fellini, Lucino Visconti, Volker Schlondorff, Piere Paolo Pazolini, Nikita Michkalkov, Andrei Tarkovskiy, Reiner Werner Fassbinder, Ettore Scola, Marco Ferreri, pictures of Bruegel, Bosch, Gogen, Dali, poems of A. Pushkin & M. Lermontov, novels of F. Dostoevskiy, A. Chekhov, W. Shakespeare, S. Zweig, V. Scott, V. Gugo, and G. Flober.
AI: Tell me about your Electroshock Records label.
AA: The Electroshock Records label was founded in 1997 by Vladimir Krupnitskiy and myself. Vladimir Krupnitskiy (1953) is my friend. He is a very talented person. He graduated from the State Institute of Theatrical Activity (theatrical director), Musical College (orchestral conducting and wood-winds section) and in 1972-74 worked as an engineer at the Moscow acoustic laboratory. He is also a film director of the "Electroshock" TV program. Together we produced my 5 solo CDs - "The Warning" - 1993 (1997 ELCD 001), "Cold" - 1995 (1997 ELCD 002), "Point Of Intersection" - 1997 (ELCD 003), "Five Mystery Tales of Asia" (ELCD 007), and "Mysticism of Sound" - 1999 (ELCD 009). Five compilation CDs - Electroshock Presents: "Electroacoustic Music. Vol. I" - 1998 (ELCD 004/005) double CD from compilation CD series with the works of Russian composers working in the style of electronic and electroacoustic music - Edward Artemiev, Stanislav Kreitchi, Taras Bujevski, Artem Vasiliev, Vladimir Nikolayev, Andrew Rodionov, Vladimir Komarov, Artemiy Artemiev, Electroshock Presents: "Electroacoustic Music. Vol. II" - 1998 (ELCD 006) - second volume of compilation CD series with the works of western composers working in the style of electronic and electroacoustic music - Claire Laronde (France), Jukka Ruohomaki (Finland), Graham Bowers (Great Britain), John Palmer (Great Britain), Charles Kriel (Great Britain), Robin-Julian Heifetz (USA) and Christopher Andrew Arrell (USA) and Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music. Vol. III - V" - 1999-2000 (ELCD 010; 011 & 013). Also we released 2 solo CDs by Edward Artemiev - "The Odyssey. Original Soundtrack" (ELCD 008) and "Solaris. The Mirror. Stalker" (ELCD 012).
If we speak about the process of composing music, i.e., how I compose music, then I must say that I have no so-called system of composing. I can use samples and then atmosphere and then rhythm or vice versa. I can say that I like to create atmospheres but I'm trying to create atmosphere for this or that composition not by preset timbres of the synthesiser. When you put your finger on the key, hear the sound changing through the LFOs, ENVs, OSCs, DCAs, etc, and exclaim - Oh! What a great cosmic sound I made with only pressing on the key! No, it's not like this. I think that atmosphere is the combination of atoms of sounds that was created by yourself with the help of synthesiser, sampler, sound card of the computer and acoustic instrument or human voice. You mix all the stuff you need and begin working on it, creating your own specific sound to make people feel your composition by the whole body. Technology only helps you to create the music you want. If your heart, soul, and head are empty then technology won't help.
AI: Is there a large musical avant-garde in Russia today?
AA: If we speak about the music scene in Russia and the Western countries, then I can say that now there's no difference between music scenes in Russia and the Western countries. Here's popular what is popular in the West - trance, hip-hop, rave, rap - in other words dancing styles of music. And mass medias promote only such kinds of music. It seems that the world went crazy. As for serious modern music then I must say that the situation with electronic, electroacoustic, contemporary, experimental, and avant-garde music is very specific. People are interested in the above mentioned genres of music. I can say so because of their positive reaction to my monthly lectures, radio, and TV program on Moscow cable television (both programs are very episodic yet. It's because I show non-commercial serious music). But they complain that it's practically impossible to get music of this kind in this country. Really, it's very difficult to find CD's of Alejandro Vinao or Francis Dhomont, or Pierre Schaeffer for example. Right now "Electroshock" is working on the question of opening a special CD store where we'll be distributing, selling, and promote only electronic, electroacoustic, experimental and avant-garde music. If everything is OK then we'll open this particular CD store somewhere at the end of autumn. As for various events devoted to the above-mentioned non-commercial genres of music in Moscow then I can say that once in three months the Russian Association for Electroacoustic music runs concerts of serious electronic, electroacoustic, experimental and avant-garde (EEE&A) music. Also we have the "ALTERNATIVA" festival devoted to EEE&A music, and besides that many interesting composers and musicians often visit Moscow with their concerts and performances. And many people (many young ones) attend these events. They're sick and tired of techno, pop, rap, hip-hop and other pieces of commercial shit. Really I met those people in Russia, Sweden, Finland, USA, France, Great Britain, and spoke with them. They're very interested in listening to and buying electroacoustic, electronic, experimental and avant-garde music. Now the cultural situation in the world is very sad (our countries are not the exception). Nobody wants to read serious books, watch serious films, to listen to serious music. The motto of the young generation is "switch on rap and I'll cry". Yes! They call rap or techno "the highest level of art" and we can see tears of joy on their faces while they listen to 120 beats per minute. When we ask them who is Michaelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci they say, "Oh! I know! These are the names of the famous turtles, mutant heroes". My God! It scares me! And you're speaking about the development. Development of what? Degradation? I think so. What is going on with our poor planet, You know? I don't know.
I thank God that with the help of my "Electroshock" I found many friends among musicians and composers abroad. I only name a few - Francis Dhomont, Graham Bowers, Mario Schonwalder, Steve Roach, Hans Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, Rudiger Gleisberg, Phillip B. Klinger, Roderick De Man, Frank Klare, Klaus Schulze, Charles Bestor, Jurgen Kern, Steve Roden, Peter Frohmader, Keith Stewart, John Palmer, Nick Franks, Andrew Poppy, Achim Wollscheid, John Dobie, Dean Carter, Harvey Bainbridge, the guys from "Tone Casualties", "Freek Records", "Musea" and many other interesting composers and musicians. We exchange our music with each other, trying to help each other with the promotion of our music in different countries, visit each other, arrange joint tape concerts or live performances with various artists, etc.
AI: Tell me about the magazine "Music Box", you write for, and lectures about electronic and avant-grade music you mentioned.
AA: In 1998 I was invited to the Russian musical magazine "Music Box" which covers classic, electronic, electroacoustuic, chamber, experimental, avant-garde and rock music. Now I'm writing articles about the activity of composers working in the style of Electroacoustic, Electronic, Experimental, Contemporary and Avant-garde music and reviewing CD's (I'm heading the review department) of the composers and various groups experimenting in the genre of modern "thinking" music. "Electroshock" TV and radio programs and my lectures (which are held in the House of Composers and University) devoted to electronic, electroacoustic, experimental and avant-garde music. Each program or lecture dedicated only to one compser (composers form different countries) working in the above mentioned genres of music. I show extracts from concerts, presents CD's, compositions of this or that composer or musician, his biography, facts from life, news, interviews, and so on.
AI: Tell me about any current or future projects that you would like to share with our readers.
AA: As for the future projects of "Electroshock Records", I hope that if everything is OK we will issue 5 CD's in October 2000: The third solo CD by Edward Artemiev, the first solo CD by Stanislav Kreitchi (his works you can hear on ELCD 010 - ANS Synthesizer), VI & VII volumes of our compilation CD series "Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music", my collaborative work with Christopher De Laurenti and my sixth solo CD.
LIST OF EQUIPMENT USED BY ARTEMIY ARTEMIEV:
Computer: Pentium 600 MHz, 128 RAM
Sound card: Sonorus "STUDI/O"
MIDI interface: Voyetra V24SM
MIDI patch bay Ensoniq KMX-8
Software: Steinberg Cubase Score VST-Version 3.502, Steinberg WaveLab-Version 2.0
Synchronizers: JLCooper Electronics "DataSYNC2"; Alesis "AI-2"
Synthesizers: Roland JD-800; Roland XP-50; Roland MC-202. Alesis "Quadrasynth"; Ensoniq SQ-80
Sampler: Ensoniq "EPS" with 4x memory expander & 8-output expander
Rhythm machines: Roland R-8; Korg DDM-220
Microphones: Shure BETA-58
Sound processors: Alesis "Midiverb"; Alesis "Midifex"; Yamaha REV-7, REV-5 & REV500;
Yamaha SPX-990 & SPX-90II;Digitech "DSP 16"; Ensoniq "DP/4"
Equalizer: Studiotone 32x2 professional studio equalizer
Mixer desk: Yamaha RM 2408
Monitors: Alesis "Monitor One"
Digital recorders: Alesis ADAT (2 units); Fostex D-5 digital master recorder (DAT); Casio DAT DA R-100
Other equipment: AKAI ME 25S midi programmable note separator; Fostex Compressor-Limiter 3070
Electroshock Records are distributed in the USA and Canada through Eurock at http://www.eurock.com
You can also obtain these releases through Gamma Shop at http://www.gamma-shop.com