ALEXANDER OBUKHOV: Polaroid Concert (2020)
Updated: May 4
“For lovers of dance and trance, it's probably 78 minutes of pure happiness”
1 Blue Cyclone 10:08
2 Place for You 15:45
3 Dreamsequences 16:51
4 Luftrum 9:27
5 To Catch up the Star 15:02
6 Polaroid concert 10:55
(CD/DDL 78:11) (V.F.)
(Dance & Trance Music)
The least that can be said, is that Ron Boots widens the horizons of his label by raking broad and by proposing new artists, who bring new visions, to his hive of EM. Alexander Obukhov is one of his latest discoveries who comes from Russia with a huge baggage of musical experience and numerous albums made in the lands of Vladimir. AO became interested in EM in the early 90's. He then started creating synthesizers and other EM instruments before starting to record his music. His career, whose headlines are available on Groove, is as surprising as interesting and leads him to become a high-character in the fields of music and to a reputation that remains well locked in the former USSR. Despite this fact, it's the first time that my ears meet his music. POLAROID CONCERT is the fruit of a long night of improvisation which lies down on the 78 minutes of this first CD on Groove. And what exactly to think? Well it's a viral dance album. It's a lot like Vanderson when the latter traded his Berlin School clothes for his dance and trance rhythms. POLAROID CONCERT is a furious album where Element 4's dance music bangs in our ears with lots of essences by Jean-Michel Jarre (Luftrum) and science fiction stories told by a creative and melodious synth. Techno rhythms of Moonbooter and trance of Vanderson are in every corner of this album where some observers hear influences from Klaus Schulze. Possible, but not that much! Maybe on To Catch up the Star. But for the rest, Jean-Michel Jarre and this horde of DJs who flooded the market at the end of the 90's (Autechre, FSOL, Leftfield, Aphex Twin, etc…) remain the most felt influences on this long Mass of EM where the phases of tranquility between the swirling rhythms are as rare as they are welcome.
Blue Cyclone captures us in its whirlwind with a first line of sequences which goes up and down in a circular pattern. Very early, barely before a full turn of this rhythm line, other lines are gathering, including one very heavy, in a tornado of frenzied sequences. Keyboard riffs begin to flutter all around, while the synth goes in cantata mode for lullaby for Martians. Percussions join, adding even more weight to this rhythmic cyclone which has become a rhythmic base for synth solos whirling in the contours of this eyeless tornado. We have a powerful 9 minutes of rhythm here which barely decreases its rage before dissolving into nothingness. A short respite of a few seconds before the thunderous introduction of Place for You draws us into a frenzied Techno that sparkles in every pore of our ears. Synth pads are struggling to convert this boom-boom-tsitt-tsiit into soaring music. But the Russian DJ has other plans in mind! The opening goes furiously in the same direction for a big 7 minutes before turning a little to the right with a movement modified by its approach of arcade games which nevertheless retains its boom-booms. An organic dialect gets in this trance without borders which is always coated with flying shadows of the synth. Shadows replaced by orchestrations around the 10 minutes, giving a false feeling of dullness to Place for You. One can imagine in this place ghosts which waltz and twirl with an air of sorrow in the gestures. A soft creative madness brought back to order when percussion and percussive effects collapse to wear this frenzied title until it runs out. Or, its final!
After this frenzied 16 minutes, Dreamsequences comes to us with a heavy and pugnacious flow which is right because of its opening, however promoting a quieter vision. It's on this track that the influences of Tangerine Dream are most felt with fluty chants that move towards an almost New Age phase, around the 8 minutes, and which fly over a fauna of gurgling and a static flow always on the edge of the explosion. This is what happens around the 11th minute when a solid influence of Aphex Twin and Autechre eat our eardrums until this small space without sounds of 2 or 3 seconds makes flow the waves of serenity which open the solid Luftrum. This POLAROID CONCERT gem flows with another fiery flow which is well wrapped in anesthetic layers. The strong presence of these Stradivarius layers counterbalances this cosmic Techno where the phantom harmonies and percussive effects inspired by Jean-Michel Jarre add a dimension of science fiction to this hymn of collective trance which passed too quickly in my ears. To Catch up the Star is just like its title's meaning! The violins in its opening are enchanting. My ears sniff the miraculous years of Software in Electronic-Universe II. They rock us and transport us to a discotheque where a creative DJ shapes a spasmodic rhythm line. The jinglings vibrate, like metallic wings of hummingbirds, while the bass crawls with ferocity in order to bring out these devastating boom-boom-clink-clink on the sails of violins and in a disco-dance ambience of the 70's. The knocks collide, and I hear clamors pushing people to dance with their feet hungry for pain, while the rhythm barely moves and retains its convulsive form in a sweat oven. Quietly, To Catch up the Star begins to drift (yes-yes) into a cosmos that looks like a huge layer of magma rendering its past sterile. Phew! And it's a man with stunned and deaf ears who went to the end of POLAROID CONCERT and of its title-track which swirls endlessly. As long as the synths sound muted in this setting where the term infernal surpasses what seems to be a lullaby in the universe of Alexander Obukhov. For lovers of dance and trance, it's probably 78 minutes of pure happiness!
Sylvain Lupari (May 3rd, 2020) ***½**
Available at Groove NL