Stanislav Vdovin: Second Variety
Occasion Label

Stanislav Vdovin + Olga Shaydullina: et_cetera
Occasion Label

We reviewed a couple of Stanislav Vdovin releases a while back (December 24 and Rapid and Tired, both on Rat Hole) but these Occasion EPs have little in common with the ambient-techno stylings of those earlier outings. Second Variety, credited to Vdovin but featuring Olga Shaydullina's piano, and et_cetera, credited to both Shaydullina and Vdovin, are ambient releases of the micro-sound and electroacoustic sort, the kind of material one might expect to hear on ROOM40 or Line.

Vdovin's Second Variety (the title drawn from a Philip K. Dick short story first published in 1953) uses Shaydullina's piano parts as raw material for a heavily processed, eleven-minute drone setting of shadowy whirrs and whistles. Atmospheric and even a little bit spooky, the piece purrs softly while faint traces of intruders and distant rumble generate a subtle undercurrent of threat. It's as pure a headphones listen as could be imagined, as without it many of the piece's nuances would go undetected. Vdovin sustains the unwavering mood convincingly throughout before letting the piece vanish like so much cigarette smoke.

Formal strategies underscore the approach Shaydullina and Vdovin bring to the two-part et_cetera though the listener can just as easily be ignorant of the driving concept and still remain engaged by the EP's thirty minutes of improvised material. The piece pairs Shaydullina's prepared piano and Vdovin's electronic treatments, with the two responding to and modifying the materials each contributes to the developing whole. As a result, a chain of improvisations is generated wherein the real-time sampling of piano notes produces webs of electroacoustic sound that fluctuate between clear definition and aquatic blur. Slivers of percussive tinkles interweave with ghostly piano flutterings during the first part, while the second offers an even more textural take on their approach. For much of its fourteen-minute duration, the piano's plinks merge with the vaporous surround until the elements come to seem like elements slowly swirling within a cloud of industrial ash.

July 2010