Title: Espionage Radio
Keywords: Glitch, Techno, Experimental, Ambient
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
Another old Noise-Joy review for tonight, this one of Russian artist Simulyakr’s second N-J album Espionage Radio. This is also to date one of the most highly futuristic and eclectic sounding albums I’ve ever heard.
It starts off with ‘Wood And Moss’, which are two things that tend to go hand in hand. It starts with a low, digital bass rumble. An experimental electro rhythm comes in. Abstract melodic structures gradually enter the mix… there could be a guitar, there’s a breathy voice possibly. Sounds break away toward the end, then disappear completely.
‘Alive Fibres’ seems to pick up where the last one left off. Shuffling, hypnotic rhythms… a squelching electronic tone… then the beat changes to an almost 4/4 house type thing, though it’s highly abstract and broken. There’s a lot of space… there is also a sort of arranged dripping tone. Wind rustles in the mix, though it could be a heavily processed orchestra for how deep it sounds. Mechanized percussion comes in. The rush of whistling frequencies give the track an ambient vibe.
‘Simulyakr’ starts with a very strange rhythm, kind of analog electro but also very digital, highly modulated. Ambient textures slowly creep into the background. The feel of the music is intriguing. The tones and sounds are complicated but cohesive. After a bit the track starts to sound almost tribal, worldly. It’s hard not to be pulled into a semi-lucid state of hypnosis. The percussion sounds like it occupies a place between acoustic reality and surreality, the mixing further engenders confusion. We’re dealing with many blurred lines. Toward the end there is a low vocal grunt that adds to the ritualistic vibe of the music.
Afterward is the titular track ‘Espionage Radio’. There are a variety of arranged clicks, pseudo-rhythmic. It’s like a digital soup; a cauldron of cacophony, Campbell’s condensed chaos.
Then it’s the somnatic, synthetic voyage of ‘There’, layers of synth modulation with bizarre percussive chimes. It’s difficult to discern if some of the sounds are reversing or just sound warped. The bell patterns are extremely mental.
‘Ground Of MM’ features more wild synthetic arhythms. It’s totally alien… it could literally have come from another planet. It gets progressively minimal, though most of the sounds still give it an air of complexity.
‘Vinilic Cats’ begins with a lovely ambient drone frequency, as well as a shuffling eclectic rhythm. Something akin to a piano emerges… it’s really pretty, this is one of my favourite tracks on this album. The syn bass is also quite nice. The rhythm starts to feel more straightforward house as it goes on, but only somewhat.
A roiling electro-noise soundscape comes in on ‘Mark Schneider’, accompanied by gorgeous and subdued ambient textures. This is another of my favourites from this album… the bell tones, highly abstract and melodic are a really nice touch. It feels like you are a liquid, spinning down a drain, sliding down tubes… never pouring out into the sewage system, though, just infinitely sliding.
‘A Toy Steam Locomotive’ has a less abstract rhythm, at least at first. Textural synths sort of repeatedly expand and contract. Frequency drones give the music an atmospheric depth. We hear a vocal clip for only a moment.
‘Decayng Dance’ feels like it’s spinning out of control until the percussive sounds come in. There’s a subtle rhythmic melody that I like that shows up pretty quickly and then disappears. The music sounds as if it were largely comprised of air, though I suppose in a way all music being sound waves are essentially insubstantial… but it’s interesting, the symbolic representation of airiness in the sound of this track.
Next is ‘Noise Hasti’, which features heavily distorted and repeating vocal samples along with a bassy, lightly distorted tone. Liquid, warbling noise frequencies and a semblance of a breakbeat come in and then come apart, while the music becomes more fractured and voice-driven. There are a lot of electronic effects and bizarre tones.
The last track on the album is ‘Citrus’… it begins with a bright, repeating bell frequency which is soon complicated with shifting bell tones and disconnected percussive scrape sounds. This leads into a house-style beat with off-beat emphasis. The real focus is on the melodies as they unfold. This is another of my favourite tracks on the album… so I guess that brings the total to three tracks, between which I would have a hard time stating for sure which is my definite fave. Something like a guitar enters the mix, as well as piano in places later. There are ghosts of vocals that emerge as well. The interplay of the melodic sounds and rhythmic sounds is stunning.
Overall, this album felt to me like I were listening to something perhaps by Oval, but with added and superb attention to rhythm and also to slow-evolving mutation. It’s very glitchy, alien, deep… and really cool music to chill to. I hope you enjoy!