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|19 November 2016||
Stanislav Tolkachev - When You Are Not At Home
"Now, tell me, can creative output truly bring the bliss? See my point? The human isn't a statue. The statue can be attached to a pedestal. For human being, that is not the case. In order to stand, we must constantly resist the urge to fall, the urge that each of us is burdened with. Day after day we resist with all our might, by times years on end, without any real headway. This is a torment that each of us subconsciously strives to escape from. It's just that some of us need a motivation, while the others… the others are born with character."
With these words, the album starts. It's a speech from the 1981 USSR film titled Всем — спасибо!... If you don't mind a bit of techno history, this isn't the first time Tolkachev uses a film quote to start off a release. Before that, there was Takecare—a very limited mini-CDr with a single track on it that began with a speech from Серебряные Головы—another high-brow, scientifically-inclined film that ponders our existence. When You Are Not At Home is the second full-length by Stainslav Tolkachev, and as you would expect, it's a demanding album, which doesn't go for simple rhythmic structures, easily-synthesized elements and common key signatures. The artwork used on the album, as is the case with many Tolkachev's releases, is his own photography; the photoart is his second passion that is as recognized as his music—exhibitions with his photographies are being held all over the world. There's one other thing worth being mentioned before going into the actual review—unless stated otherwise, the tracks contain atonal basslines and are paced at 135 BPM. Having said that, let's dive deep.
Misfire comes in startlingly, awakening the listener from reflections caused by trying to make sense of the words from Intro: vast, satisfyingly roaring acidic bassline that resembles a laid-back solo on electric guitar by times casually springs out, blasting drops of acid into higher ranges as shortly cut, seemingly statically running 4/4 hats, arranged with additional, covert layer repeating in the left channel, get reverberated with sandy sweeps; this minimalist piece could truly have used some hammering kicks and oscillating bass to become a psychedelic dancefloor number, but evidently it was made with a different intention, so they never arrive.
Titular composition When You Are Not At Home will immediately strike Tolkachev's ardent followers with a familiar melody—a look into the archives will reveal that the melody is borrowed from Grain 01 of Tolkachev's experimental, beatless LP titled Grain, which, just as aforementioned single Takecare, was released in October of 2009 through the Ukrainian, physical-only label ~taqueOT; this time, however, it's supplied with galloping, but muffled 8/4 kicks, densely arranged, dry hats, offbeat bands and additional, short, tupleting bassline pattern that gets slightly modified in gain across the 7-minute run.
With Mostly Harmless, we get measured 4/4 kicks, supplied with an additional kick every 4 bars, two timid 3-note and 2-note stab loops, simple 4/4 hats that for periods of time get joined by a layer of shorter, quarter a bar shifted hats, and high-range, clicking micro bands at 8/4 that quietly pop in a manner of vinyl artifacts, being delayed in between the channels to achieve a better stereo effect.
The listeners' nervous system will be put to a serious test with high levels of pressure when the tempo skyrockets to 180 BPM in Scar—an off-the-charts-speeding piece that does not feature kicks, but instead employs noise-shaped 4/4 bands and half-bar shifted 4/4 claps, 6/6 hats that by times change places with another set of hats at 16/16, two distressed, 8-note bassline loops—a more subtle one and a detuned, brighter one—all going above an intense, mid-to-low range oscillation which the oppressed mind, in attempts to identify and explain away, associates with sound of boiling water; good luck making use of this one in a set.
Apexcordis brings the album back from utter weirdness to weirdness of the regular kind: it's plain 4/4 kicks that double the last hit every 8 bars and two basslines—a confusing one at a mid range and a playful one at high range—jaunty and micro-fractured, all of which run under paper-thick hats scattered in a non-stagnating manner.
Disposable Killer creeps up with a disorienting bassline that gets repeated in a left channel with a slight delay, sharp but inoppressive, doubling 4/4 kicks, branching and doubling 5/4 hats (everything is doubling and splitting here!) with another set of open 1/4 hats.
138 BPM-paced, breakless piece The Proof then suddenly and without warning unleashes its slightly cycling in gain, attacking 6/8 kicks together with a stressful, rapid bassline, while the arrays of 8/8 claps and arcing ambient fields slowly rise up as the track unravels.
And Then She Fell—a 136 BPM piece that brings it down after the previous number in terms of both tempo and energy—brings back familiar 5/4 kicks, engaging an estranged, elevated and yet mundane 8-bar bassline loop, as well as all-dry, multiple sets of thin, inconsistently running hats all of which have their own, randomized time signatures, with just a single set going from start to finish unevenly striking twice every 4 bars.
With a title ostensibly suggestive of drug consumption, Five Grams Will Be OK stands as the longest composition of release, it crosses the mark of 10 in a tracklist and makes use of a lively, spacey and childishly explorative bassline that keeps it fresh all throughout 8'40" by constantly attempting to pursue new directions and never locking into a pattern—and with that, being quite indifferent towards the rhythms of simply arranged 4/4 kicks, half-bar shifted 4/4 hats, and an almost inaudible set of 8/8 hats; your local drug dealer will suggest—take a point from the title and be sure to never hold amounts that exceed what constitutes "personal use".
Schizophrenic bassline of Bring attempts to establish a paranoid state of mind not dissimilar to having a bad trip, as the thudding 4/4 kicks, randomized hits of dry hats and dense, sweeping 8/8 bands will do their best to significantly enhance the listeners' bespoken freak out.
A loop of strained, subtly roaring, restrained plucking of cybernetic strings together with subtle, innocently exhaling notes that quietly ping-pong in a background are the main accent in The Story Of Someone, with striking 4/4 kicks laid under the almost imperceptible, static 8/8 clicks that serve as the only percussive elements.
What might be misinterpreted for infinite build-up on See You Tomorrow can make one lose patience in anticipation for the main sections, but two ethereal, calefacient basslines won't be accompanied by any percussion this time, which is also the case for a late-in-the-game, abruptly ending 1'40" interlude titled A Small Fortune, which in turn uses one of the two basslines to create semblance of acidic hats, while the other one revolves around mid-range and creates perpetuating energetic impulses.
With Idiom, we get a fair share of clicking and panning 16/16 bands, 5/8 hats, fluting stabs, low-range-situated upchirps of a bassline that masters courage to spread its wings a little in the middle of the track, and sharp 4/4 kicks that start somewhat unexpectedly—not only because the previous two tracks were left without them, but also because they get engaged only after the first minute.
Vot I Vse (which is a transliteration of Вот И Всё) is yet another number that leaves the percussion out of the game, instead utilizing a mid-range, hasteless oscillation together with contrasting bassline loop that spellbinds with its fluid, high-reaching notes paced in allegro; through the title, Tolkachev bids adieu to the owners of the vinyl copy, because the next three tracks are only present in a digital version.
One cannot help but lend a degree of contemplation to the last three numbers and how they ended up being bonus material for this album. It would make sense to assume that they were meant for another release—perhaps a scrapped one, perhaps an EP that was intended to feature more than three tracks, but admittedly, it's all mere guesswork triggered by natural curiosity. Whatever is the reason for them to appear in this bonus capacity, despite what their names might suggest these three are not comparable variations of the same idea; while none of them are provided with kick drums, it's about the only thing these tools share in common.
No Matter What They've Told You [A] is made of short, quiet and resonant clicks, hissing 6/9 bands and multiple layers of highly reaching acidic stabs, some of which are repeatedly echoing to others and having a heated argument over who can reach a higher point of the spectrum.
Paced at 131 BPM, No Matter What They've Told You [B] verges on rhythmic noise—it's an abrasive, metallic, high-energy 7-minute piece that is reminiscent of Sonar's work, particularly his remix of Critical Mass by Orphx; it's a great tool to put over something that has a hefty kick drum pattern but was left short on other elements and it can be exceedingly effective in an industrial set.
Seemingly arrhythmic anomaly No Matter What They've Told You [C] takes a U-turn from what came before it, bringing on a resonant yet introspective bells-shaped bassline, which continuously keeps itself from being caught in a loop, turning to other note just when you expect it to take the one it went with previously, and while it keeps its improvised run, the background gets slowly occupied by soft gonging toms and acidic stabs that strike softly in the right channel and flow more naturally in the left—on occasion being supported by non-intrusive clicks; this piece is paced either at 90 or 180 BPM—depending on how you perceive it, and it definitively ends the run of the album.
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Release Type: Album
Release Date: 19 November 2016
Release Format: Digital ● Vinyl
Record Label ● Catalog: Mord ● MORDLP002