GEOLOGISTS AND PROFESSIONAL TOURISTS VOLUME 2
Label: N&B Research Digest (Finland/Russia, www.nbresearchdigest.com)
Catalogue number: NBRD-06
Release date: Feb 15 2003
Distribution: A-Musik (www.a-musik.com)
Promotion: Dense Promotion (www.dense.de)
1. Critikal: Accidental Tourist
2. Alexei Borisov & Anton Nikkilä: So Few Good Moustaches
3. Leif Elggren: The Cobblestone is the Weapon of the Proletariat
4. Membranoids: Uj!
5. Theodor Bastard: Se`~ko/
6. Benzo: The Chemical Substance of Vysotsky
7. KK.Null & Alexei Borisov: Fission
8. Pink Twins: A Fistful of Fingers
9. Alexei Borisov & Anton Nikkilä: Quite Loud
10. Anton Aeki: Semipalatinsk
11. KK.Null: Assassin from Outer Space
12. Technical Acoustics Lab: Asphaltei
13. Government Alpha: Pain Killer
14. F.R.U.I.T.S.: Mineral Wasser
15. Alexei Borisov & Anton Nikkilä: Moskowrytm
The second volume of geographically dispersed psycho-geological audio-expeditions documented in the "Geologists and Professional Tourists" series showcases non-homogenized, individual and endemic voices from Russia, Finland, Japan, Sweden, Belgium, USA and Ukraine.
Even if its humour translates, a non-Soviet person probably misses the cultural connotations of the title "Geologists and Professional Tourists" altogether, which in its small way speaks of the Western fallacy inherent in the claims of digital music's supposedly automatic universal comprehensibility. To be a geologist in the Soviet Union of the 1960's was something romantic, even in real life, not to speak of mass media: the geologists explored the wild frontiers of Siberia and were not as bound by rules and restrictions as people living in big cities. Wildlife tourism in summertime was however a kind of compensation for those who had chosen another profession and spent their winters debating heatedly whether "the physicists" (euphemism for hard science and technocracy) or "the lyricists" (human sciences and arts) are more beneficial to society.
The disc opens with Critikal's sound narrative, which culminates in an apparent suicide - somebody jumping under a train - on a metro station. Critikal is a collaborative project instigated by Jeff Surak, a musician who runs his own label Zeromoon in Washington D.C. Here Surak processes materials sent to him by Andrey Kiritchenko (a musician who runs his own label Nexsound in Kharkov, Ukraine) and Jonas Lindgren (a musician from Sundsvall, Sweden).
In contrast to them, the musical collaborations between Alexei Borisov from Moscow and Anton Nikkilä from Helsinki, who also run N&B Research Digest, invariably take place in real time and place in Russia and Finland. The travel diary-like lyrics of "So Few Good Moustaches" are an exception in Borisov's invented-language lyrical output of recent years. They namecheck the sewers of Paris, a tramp from Dagestan and "puny masses", resembling Borisov's early 90's surrealist poetry published e.g. in the journal "Iizyk" (Gummiarabic Research & Industries and Noart Movement, Moscow, 1994). The track is from the forthcoming album by Alexei Borisov & Anton Nikkilä.
Borisov & Nikkilä's other two tracks are live recordings. "Quite Loud" is based on a track from Borisov's cd-r "På köket" (Insofar Vapour Bulk, Moscow, 2000) with rhythmic disruptions added by Nikkilä. The electro-mechanical noises of "Moskowrytm" were originally part of "L'Opéra Urbain" conducted by Kamil Tchalaev in different outdoor locations in the Paris suburb Mantes-la-Jolie in 2000. Later Borisov provided his rhythmic interventions and live vocals to the track.
F.R.U.I.T.S. is a project started by Alexei Borisov and Pavel Jagun ten years ago in Moscow. Before that Borisov was mostly known as a rock singer and Jagun as a seasoned brass player in the USSR's most popular touring pop bands and later as a successful lyric writer for chart-topping pop acts. Early F.R.U.I.T.S as heard here showed a different side, which has been described by All-Music Guide as electro-acoustic music with a punkish attitude. "Mineral Wasser" was recorded in 1992, but first released only in 2001 on the cd-r album "Lakmus" by the Japanese noise label Xerxes.
Benzo is an "audio-ethnographic project" of Muscovite Richardas Norvila, which deals with the cultural legacy of the USSR. A Jungian psychotherapist and one half of Sa-zna, who recorded two cd's of improvised musique concrète for UK's Leo Records in the mid-90's, Norvila describes his track this way: "The sources of this track are short and transformed samples from between-song chatter of a Vladimir Vysotsky concert in an unknown location sometime in the 1970's. For me this track is like a social object presented as an audio piece, which expresses the feeling of being in Russia in the 70's and knowing how your or somebody else's voice is placed in a closed room and how it step by step destroys itself while banging on invisible doors." Benzo's debut cd "Tapes" is due out soon on the Austrian Laton label.
Field recording specialist Anton Aeki from Brussels, who contributed a track called "Semipalatinsk", sent us the following quote for this press release: "We saw how over three years the local people had scavenged the nuclear testing range's military dump for spare parts. Ignorant of the dangers, they have made the huge, abandoned underground city with its communication systems, missile launch pads and forgotten lakes the source of many of life's necessities. During our investigation of the nuclear testing range and its use by the population, we measured levels of contamination reaching 1 500 microroentgen per hour" (K. Atakhanova).
Leif Elggren from Sweden is one of the most brilliant contemporary sound artists, and a rare case where conceptual, seemingly hermeneutic artistic research carries enormous emotional and political power. His contribution "The Cobblestone is the Weapon of the Proletariat" is an instrumental track.
Membranoids (from Kaliningrad, Russia) describe themselves thus: "The main idea behind this band (four people - two on stage and two working with images) is an exploration of primitive extremities of pseudo-scientific/conceptual approach to artistic production." The genre classifications they use are "thrombo-beat, pneumo-step, infra-jazz to name but a few", and also "minimal electronica, pneumo-dicklo (our own vision of it) or what is now commonly referred to as 'microwave'." The track is from their cd-r album "Drunken Aliens" released in 2000.
The world's leading experimental music magazine The Wire described KK. Null recently in a way which brings to light common assumptions and pressures which musicians have to face - the need for a "trademark sound" and a willingness to become a media personality: "The varied nature of Japanese guitarist Kazuyki K Null's output has created an air of near inpenetrability about him. Given his many switches in musical direction, it seems, the more you hear of Null, the less you know. And Null himself gives little away in interviews beyond the barest facts about the music." On both of his tracks here Null works with drum machines, feedback and electronics. His collaboration with Alexei Borisov is from their forthcoming duo album.
Government Alpha is from a younger generation of Japanese noise than KK. Null. Here is his description of the track he contributed: "As I have got the migraine on a temple, I feel the beating of pulse on it. This track is a kind of the quasi-experience. I recommend you to use a headphone."
Pink Twins are a duo of audiovisual laptop improvisers from Helsinki augmented by a guitarist (w/distortion) for their unpredictable live sets. As unwilling as KK. Null to verbalize their music, their output has usually been called chaotic, though it has a soft, even romantic heart heard also on their rocking track here.
Theodor Bastard from St. Petersburg is a live band that performs actively on the club circuit of Russia's Northern Capital. Usually they play their popular mix of trip hop and ethnic flavours, but in 2001 they recorded an experimental album called "Bossa Nova Trip" released in early 2002 on cd-r by the Moscow label Planktone. "Se`~ko/" is one of the highlights of that album.
Technical Acoustics Lab is a project of Alexander Bryzgalov from Moscow. His track was recorded together with A. Sidorov. Bryzgalov could be described an outsider, whose atmospheric music often brings to mind Intelligent Dance Music combined with the unsettling mood and pace of the Eastern European tradition of animation films.