Gultskra Artikler / Lanterns: Berezka / Monkey Lament
Other Electricities

The perfect gift for the Mushrooms-loving outcast in the family, Berezka / Lanterns unites avant-folk unit Gultskra Artikler (Moscow-based Alexey Devyanin) and UK drone outfit Lanterns for a twenty-six minute split disc. The two artists make a perfect pair, with Gultskra Artikler's three pieces a natural complement to Lanterns' two.

Devyanin's electroacoustic collages sound simultaneously ancient and modern. Though assembled digitally, much of the Gultskra Artikler material exudes an eroded quality as if it's been pieced together from decaying materials. The detail-heavy, reverb-laden atmospherics of “Pervie Gusli” suggest freezing winds blowing through a desolate Eastern European city at dawn, especially when muffled bell tones resonate within a disorienting mass. In “Figase,” desperate voices call out melismatically from some cavernous, underground chamber while winds drone above ground. Coming after such uncompromising settings, the conventionally musical character of “Berezka Take 2” is initially jarring. Dreamy and tranquil in spirit, the pretty piece embeds Eno-styled synthesizer melodies and acoustic guitar picking within a static-heavy base. Other Electricities' characterization of the Gultskra Artikler sounds as “Neo-folk cyber-psychedelia” is accurate indeed.

Formed in 1995, Lanterns (Leeds and Glasgow residents Luke and Andreas) aims to create music that's equally beautiful and ugly, sweet and sour, dissonant and harmonic—you get the idea. Tellingly, the group's improvisations are recorded using a single one microphone and with minimal editing applied which partially accounts for the material's meandering haziness. Lanterns picks up where Gultskra Artikler leaves off with “Snake Ice,” an instantly appealing piece whose emotive Kosmische style can't help but call to mind the work of artists like Popul Vuh, Neu, and Faust. A disorienting character pervades “Snake Ice” as it twists and turns through various psychedelic episodes, with keyboard melodies and distorted strings snaking their way through a dense sea of churning noise. “Dir Tup” plunges even deeper into a psychedelic rabbit hole with a wooden flute, acoustic guitars, animal sounds, and myriad other noises pushing the song into a tripped-out psych-folk and backwoods country jam.

Much praise to Other Electricities for including a gratis CD version of the recording with the beautiful marble vinyl pressing of the release (500 copies).

November 2008