Stanislav Vdovin: December 24
Rat Hole

Stanislav Vdovin: Rapid and Tired
Rat Hole

These releases—a full-length and EP—by Stanislav Vdovin (aka Unit 21) couldn't appear to be more straightforward; after all, little confusion can set in when the details accompanying them are so sparing (located in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, the Rat Hole imprint, which rose from the ashes of the defunct net-labels Green Rat and Dead Rat Records, is overseen by Vdovin and Anton Cherkasov). December 24 features four tracks, each one named for a specific time of day, and the only info provided credits Vdovin with “music” (and Taylor Deupree with mastering). With melody downplayed, atmosphere, texture, and pulse become the material's primary focus, rendering the music itself a deeply textured blend of ambient and minimal techno.

“December Morning” sets the scene with seven minutes of atmospheric minimal techno that pairs a rubbery kick drum pattern with granular, glutinous textures. As the album moves towards darkness, the stylistic kinship between Vdovin and Wolfgang Voigt's Gas become ever more apparent, the difference being the more epic aura that has come to be built up around the Gas project. A sense of restlessness and urgency animates “December Evening” before the album's most immersive escapade, the twenty-five-minute “December Night,” appears. In its opening minutes, whispering tones lend the piece a mood of twilight and melancholy, until the piece abruptly stops after five minutes. A minute of silence ensues, after which December 24 plunges deeply into a vaporous ambient drone bath of hiss, soft clicks, and, most prominently, an unrelenting central waver that slowly swells in intensity for twelve minutes before collapsing into the arms of an agitated melody. The drone swells again, this time the high-pitched tone augmented by a low-pitched, cello-like mass. The album's best experienced via headphones as doing so enables one to better appreciate the music's subtle and gradual shifts. It may be minimal to some degree, but it's hardly static.

Encased within a circular tin, the Rapid and Tired EP doesn't deviate dramatically from the ambient techno style of the full-length though obviously offers a more concise portrait of Vdovin's work. If anything, the EP proves less Gas-like in opting for a more even balance between textural atmosphere and conventional techno elements such as beats and synths. After the melancholy techno of the opener “Use Less,” the energy level rises when “Rapid Trees” presents a dreamscape of delicate washes and insistent rhythms. “Tired Vinyl” and “Tired Tape” complete the release with two exercises in soothing ambient-techno that contrast energized rhythms with warm, textural overlays that could induce sleep states. Vdovin's music is the ideal soundtrack for the morning after the clubbing frenzy of the night before.

February 2010