One of contemporary music's most intriguing sound designers brings forth a new EP that reminds us all of the power of sonics and the humming excellence of deep chordal swells.
Ambient has always grown beyond its original conception as 'background' music to be so much more than that, and that new set of definitions is usually at the bequest of the producer behind the music. The genre has evolved rapidly over the past few decades due to many music makers who operate within differing worlds dabbling with Ambient tropes, combining the feels of Techno, IDM, Balearic and many more to provide alternative mixes to their more frequented styles, but this breakout approach has led to Ambient becoming much more than a passive background. Electronic Music in general is somewhat designed to make the listener feel involved from the off, with the beats, keys and vocals all helping us to get up and dance or reflect upon the inner workings of life itself, with the latter of these sentiments certainly making their way into the ever morphing DNA of Ambient, which over time became an increasingly complex genre in which the purity of it spread out very far and wide indeed. You started to see increasingly dense compositions slide into view, where layer upon layer of tone would intermingle with one another as distant swells came right to the fore, along with slices of texture that would do much to further the imagination on so many levels. This was particularly true of the 90s take on the genre, where many Techno artists would include at least one Ambient track or remix on EPs as a means of showcasing the soulful side of their sound, where melodics would reign supreme within a sea of sublimity and beautiful textures. These kinds of experiences would help to define the outer parameters of the sonic experience, be it either the frequencies that stay close to the ground or the boundless wavelengths that spread far and wide beyond the clouds, with the listener placed firmly in the middle of it all. We see the new realms of possible, the spaces in which we feel prepared to grow and become one with the melodies and light drumming patterns, our minds becoming intertwined with the ongoing audial narrative that speaks so softly to us, but has so much to say. Not only did the boundaries of possibility get pushed out to their absolute limits, but the myriad of ways in which producers looked to express themselves via the genre exploded, with some groundbreaking pieces of work sliding our way during the 90s and beyond into the 2000s. The genre has now solidified itself as, well, something incredibly free flowing in nature, its final form not exactly known but appreciated by individuals as something always slightly differing, a collection of dusty wavelengths, far flung sonics and mesmerising distant vocals that all come together so emphatically for our benefit. Rather than passively going about our business with the music as a background medium, Ambient today really involves you within its walls, moving the focus from one point of interest to the next, to one field, to another space, and back again. Its a place now where the inner recesses of the mind come to the fore and greet the imagined landscapes that spread out right in front of us, the physical blending irrevocably with the spiritual, as emotions come straight to the surface, laid bare as a way to connect this world to the next, a foreverness that remains captured in the essence of solid spells, ethereal swirls and low end frequencies. We feel blessed to be involved in such a audial space, even if its for a snapshot in the greater context of life, but within these moments we feel truly integrated, at one with what we see and what we feel, delightfully lost within a prism of misty synths and far flung voices that always finds a way to seep back into the subconscious.
These kinds of spaces and feelings have become the norm within Aleksandra Zakharenko's productions, which filter their way between the majestically imagined and the crunchy rawness of the reality in which we find ourselves on a daily basis. Many producers construct worlds with their music, a meticulously put together soundscape that delivers every time in regards to expanding the scope and feel of the world, and Zakharenko has done just that with her productions, either via one of her own aliases or as part of a wider group, with both avenues offering up some of the most enchanting and moving ambient experiences on the market. The sound designs that flow forth from all her works feel like the inbetween spaces, the liminal environments that curl up against our realities and our hazy deep sleep visions, with the resulting mood a beautifully conceived interface that bridges the divide so intuitively. The music flows then flows some more through differing densities and atmospheres, with moments always taken to breath and take it all in, such is the control in which she has over the direction of the tunes coming our way. Zakharenko seems intent on delivering to us not just one strain of the ambient experience but multiple, with each release moving within the spectrum to deliver cuts that seem familiar, tracks that seem very unfamiliar, and a lot of other ones that slot within the divide, their status perhaps left up to chance and interpretation from those who come across her works. Each release feels channelled through a new conceptual scope, its individualised meaning drawing power from some vein of inspiration that Zakharenko felt at a particular point in time, and as a result her music feels like its constantly evolving, like a set of eyes flickering around a view to understand and perceive the utmost of what is directly in front of them, and the results are simply staggering. Zakharenko integrates an abundance of flavours into her works, with the Ambient framework intermingled with spoken word, sound collage, field recordings, concrete musique and much more being brought in to fill in the gaps, and its this approach to accommodating other strains of electronic music in general that have helped to form one of the most compelling discographies of the modern age. Zakharenko is perhaps best known for her Perila alias, which came into the world in 2019, but she also has a number of other works that have existed before, such as Asceptic Stir and Wedontneedwords, along with being a member of Critical Amnesia and LOG, and when you consider that the bulk of her works have come about in the past 3 years or so, it really does put things into perspective about her abilities and dedication to her craft. Pretty much all of her music is well worth checking out, starting off the other aliases and the deeply spacious and moving 'R.S.V.P' album, which came out in 2014 under the wedontneedwords alias; the hazy and deeply captivating moods found within the 'Year of Detachment' record, which landed in 2019; the cutting edge and hypnotic rhythms found within the self titled release from Critical Amnesia, a group which features exael, Special Guest DJ, OL, VTGNike, and Huerco S. (!); and finally, the truly breathtaking feels found on the 'LOG ET3RNAL' record, which was released alongside frequent collaborator Ulla Straus. Under the Perila name, there is even more music to get your teeth into the incredible undulations and vocal performances found on the 'Irer Dent' record, which landed in 2019; the soft unravelling notions found within the 'Silent Moves' EP, that arrived in 2019 also; the experimental boundary pushing of the 'Everything Is Already Here' record, which arrived in 2020; the percussive rhythms found on the 'tunnel four point zero' record, which arrived in 2020 also; the quietly undulating but always impressive 'META DOOR L' release, which landed in 2020; and finally, the gently unravelling flows found within the 'i might as well use this time', which arrived earlier this year. You could quite literally land in any of these releases and feel like you immediately get what Zakharenko's music is all about - ethereal yet dense, floating but firmly footed, emotionally tinged both with joy and inner-reflectionism and eroticism at times, all of these many shades make their presence known in the most bountiful of ways. You dip and dive between multiple reference points that guide us from one element to the next, forever conscious of our presence and how we could be accommodated further within the world being painted. Her music always presents itself with such purpose and substance, with the finer details shining through from the ground up to ride up above in a beautiful myriad of ways, a welcoming hand to guide us further into the never ending sublimity of it all. Her universe awaits your presence, so why not take a dive through her works, you will not be disappointed.
to see the sky merging into you
to see reflections in the clouds telling secrets of universe
each one of us gets its own password
words not needed in the era of noise
finding silence within is a way to evolve
rolling from times, years, beings
being alone in the city
being one with all around spinning
memories spin in a dance
how precious now
And now we turn our attentions to the subject of today's review, 'attitudes to senses in reverse', which landed earlier this month. What's honestly really wonderful about a lot of Perila's bandcamp releases is that they come with these sprawling messages, like a stream of but one of the subconsciousness strains that run through each and every day, and if you engage with these words before diving in you start to see the words permeate through the keys and sombre percussive impulses, the meaning behind them wafting up high into the clouds that stretch out across the plains of the mind. The music is beautifully evolving as ever, as layers upon layers of tone and harmony fade in and out of view on some compositions, whilst others focus on the rumblings which occur deep within the foundations of the human experience, forming up some intriguing structures indeed as flickers of light radiate from within the deepest of pools. So, without further delay, lets dive right into this extraordinary slice of music.....
Up first comes 'grounding', and this one begins with the distant haze to get us going. The feel and application of the chord is solid and all encompassing, never for one moment leaving us be as it keeps growing in stature, as distant drum like samples add a rhythmic feel to proceedings. Distant vocals move in and around the background, as the lightest of melodic touches permeate through the wavelengths, like a shining light on the foggiest of day, as the overall feel of the track just continues to mesmerise with its sonic depth. The tone feels like a radio transmission, with perila on the other end of the channel, her voice speaking softly to us as the room in which we find ourselves in gets filled up with all this warmth, as we look beyond and see figures and busyness begin to populate the world. As openers go, it does a superb job at setting the scene, top draw. Up next comes 'its physical', and this one gets right into it with the beautiful melodic outlay, with this track originally performed live as part of the Training Fantasia festival in April. The keys gently move in and out time and space, emerging just when the frequencies align perfectly with the field of view presented to us, and as time goes by their application and touch begin to move in all kinds of interesting directions, the spaces inbetween the notes now looking to accommodate all manner of other elements. The sound sample elements begin to grow more and more into the track, as a snapshot breakbeat then leads into a rolling metallic like drumming sample taking over, its presence taking us by surprise as we fall back down into the soft embrace of the keys. The sample doesn't leave us quite yet, as it sweeps its way through the bottom ends of the track, with this second run through leading to the keys moving away as we arrive at a climatic part of the track, with a gigantic chordal cascade leading us into a new space entirely. The density unravels itself, crafting a liminal space between the previous passage and the next, with this new sequence focusing once again on the keys, their layered approach easing us through into a new state of being, a graceful outlay of gorgeous tones and simmering undercurrents that is so hard not to dip your toe into. Intoxicating, believable, engaging to the last, this one has it all.
'exp' comes next, and this one opens up quite quickly with the chiming bell and skipping sub-basement features, with this track also recorded at the Training Fantasia festival. The chiming bells help to craft a distant structure to proceedings, with the foreground dominated by all manner of crunchy feels and textures, with vocal snippets making their way right to the front as we shift through sands and light air in the quest to see all we can. A skipping d'n'b like drum sequence emerges from deep within to scatter itself across the plains, and this rhythmic impulse only increases in intensity as time passes by, our hearts and minds firmly locked into the swirling intensities. Beautiful stuff. To wrap things up, we have the epic 'empty cup in a full glass (spiral house distortion)', and this tune begins in the murky depths of the city to get us going. The keys are metallic as hell and completely at ease with themselves, their unravelling nature leading us on a journey like no other we have experienced so far in this record, with the sequences of before mixing with ever evolving vocal samples and filtering densities, with the movements between becoming ever more intense as time passes by, our spirits becoming deeply immersed within the sound of it all. The track passes through several notable passages, with the fluid movements between differing densities and patterns incredibly absorbing to get involved in, with each phase welcoming us with open arms as we get the opportunity to explore a little bit more of this overtly impressive soundscape. The extended drumming patterns keep us firmly in the mix as the percussion lightly taps away at the pulse, leading us one way to the next as we climb further into the outer realms of possibility. The way in which the track moves its focus from the drums to the lyrics and back again is masterfully done, with these elements always featuring in the backdrop before coming to the fore in their own passages, with the vocal lines that overlay themselves into the mix around the 8 minute mark something to behold. Here we see the melodic and drumming features, which would speak to each other often, replaced in terms of prominence by the vocals, which literally provide a narrative for us to become attached to, and its simply glorious. The keys in the backdrop move and flow with a real sense of intent, fluidly engaging with us as time passes by with the drums returning for a moment in the sun, with this relationship flourishing for one final time before we set sail into the ethereal lands, where the interweaving synths meander and sing across the spectrum to applause from all involved. A quite simply glorious piece of music that transcends this mortal space and lands us right in the heart of spiritualism, where human existence persists purely in the metaphorical as we look to imprint ourselves in a space high above.
Audial experiences present themselves in a plethora of ways, and sometimes its the blended notions that really get the blood pumping. Perila's music has always presented itself like a fully realised concept, one that engages with the listener in certainly more than one method, and that helps to define the experience which we are getting involved within. We see so many beautiful things pass us by in a series of soft explosions that do much to enrich the heart and the soul, a totality of experience that keeps us in its grip from beginning to end. Every track on this record feels like part of a larger sequence, with one track ending to begin a new phase of life and audial frequency, and it all works so, so well. We remain in awe of the production value, the depth, the feel and the emotion, and the fact that you could keep coming back to this record and always find something new to explore. What a record.
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