Andrey Kiritchenko: Overt

There's something to be said for mystery, a principle soundly illustrated by Overt, the enigmatic third album on SPEKK from Ukrainian experimental artist and Nexsound label founder Andrey Kiritchenko (b. 1976). A number of questions are raised by the release having to do with genre, instrumentation, and concept. The press text offers an answer to the first, with the release being described as “electric new age orchestra,” probably as good a characterization of the material as any. The other questions are less easy to answer: no instrument-related details are provided, leaving one to wonder whether Kiritchenko's a particularly gifted multi-instrumentalist or an ultra-skilled craftsperson capable of convincingly simulating a huge range of sounds using electronic means. As far as the concept is concerned, I'm guessing he selected Overt as the title because he wanted the album to be emotionally open and direct as opposed to willfully obscure and abstract, a presumption supported by cover illustrations that show flowers blossoming alongside a naked body's exposed insides. That being said, Kiritchenko also welcomes listeners to decipher the album in their own ways.

Certainly there's enough happening musically to hold one's attention, all extra-musical questions aside. An arresting and often richly cinematic sound field presents itself in each of the eight settings, with Kiritchenko exploiting the resources of a mini-orchestra to realize his expressive visions. Woodwinds, piano, percussion, and electronics (beats and otherwise) work together to form film scores in miniature, one track even carrying the title “Soundtrack For a Sad Movie.” Accentuating the orchestral dimension of the project, symphonic strings initially move to the fore during “Ecstatic Piece” until their bowed patterns, along with piano and vibraphone, are largely supplanted by a pronouncedly synthetic design emphasizing synthesizers and electronic noise flourishes. Consistent with its title, “Flares” scatters mini-detonations of synth fireworks across a colourful vista dotted with piano, vibes, percussion, horns, and acoustic bass.

A hint of noir jazz seeps into “Soundtrack For a Sad Movie” when acoustic bass lines and mallet percussion patterns join sweeping strings and fluttering harp patterns. By comparison, “Untold,” opts to animate its sparkling instrumental clusters with a neo-classical lilt, whereas “Heaven Is Not Enough (Volatile)” locates itself firmly within an electronica domain. As ear-catching as such pieces are, the album's most arresting is arguably “Blackouts,” in large part due to the staccato horn riffs that relentlessly punctuate the track's minimalism-styled piano pattern and chugging drum rhythm. When the forty-minute album ends, the listener is probably no more enlightened about how Kiritchenko created the material than when it began. But that doesn't lessen the pleasures Overt provides, regardless of however many questions it leaves unanswered.

December 2017