Monday, May 4, 2009
Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi - Estcho (Stunned Records 2XCD-R)
Just in from Brainwashed:
Sometimes one disc isn't enough. Following up his stunning cassette debut last year, Russian cosmo-wizard Sergey Kozlov returns with a double disc's worth of rock demolition. Whereas the cassette fidelity of the first kept things murky and mysterious though, the two CDs here find Kozlov presenting a far clearer and more expansive concoction that unfurls the vision of a new and potent psychedelic voice.
Of course Kozlov isn't without his influences, and much of his strength lies in his willingness to incorporate the techniques of past exploratory rockers such as Parson Sound and Hawkwind, as well as '70s modal folk material, through his own lens. That Kozlov does it all alone with overdubs and loops is all the more impressive, as what results has none of the repetitive tendencies of most one man bands, instead sounding far closer to a taut and unified rock band than a one man unit likely enacting its prowess in said musician's basement.
Both discs presented are three tracks in length, each beginning with its shortest and ending with its longest piece. And I don't use piece lightly here; these are too vast to be considered songs, yet far too together and constructed to be considered jams. Call them suites if you will, but each number here is infused with pockets and pockets of ideas held together through the sheer momentum and energy of their construction.
Take the opening "Jahendra Shitzaga," for example. Beginning with an encroaching two-note bass line and drifting vocals, guitars sprawl out above before Kozlov's drums come pummeling forward. While much of this could more or less been assembled strictly through loops however, it is clear from the bass alone that Kozlov really played each part through, making it nearly impossible to decipher the kernel from which he started the track but infusing it with a live and elastic in-the-moment quality that too often is lacking when there are only two hands at work.
Those two hands sure do work however, and both Kozlov's drumming and guitar work are magnificent. Everything here seems driven primarily by rhythm, which serves Koslov well as he has a knack for a hard hitting, in-the-pocket approach that drives the work far beyond mere pummel and into the depths of a more lively experimentalism whose sights are set on the outer reaches rather than the inner head-banger. It is, it seems, this rhythmic component which is always at work. On "Kilobelnaya," the 20-plus minute closer to disc one, a modal folk grows and grows, heading toward a pulse and, once finding it, riding along it with enthusiastic delight. Some of the production here even comes across as a bit dubby, everything drifting off and into itself as each element is treated with spatial regard to everything else.
Closing disc two, "Emptuhi Campusabba" is a broad and far-reaching piece that perfectly encapsulates all that Kozlov achieves here. With odd vocal utterances that might well be Pandit Pran Nath had he endulged in a bit too much cough syrup, the work's flutes, guitar and rambling spaciness pulls from so many sources that it treads a fine line between sounding at once familiar and entirely distinctive. This is, perhaps better than anything else, as fine an indicator as there could be of Kozlov's talents. Never the imitator, Kozlov is absolutely aware of his predecessors, and using that knowledge with skill and honesty is too rare a thing.
Also of note here: the album, released by Stunned, is highly limited, as only 100 copies were made. Too often this is seen as an indicator not of limited budgets and homegrown operations, but of sub-par quality releases undeserving of greater distribution. As Stunned and Kozlov have proven repeatedly however, some of the most viable and exciting music coming out is done so on these labels, whose lack of overhead cost allows for an experimentalism that commercial requirements too often quell. Truly a find, and one which will someday surely be regarded with great reverence, so long as people are given the opportunity to hear it.