Holy moly! Ukrainian/Estonian archival label Shukai return with an unmissable second haul of Valentina Goncharova’s un-real synthesis of 4th World, electro-acoustic, noise and new age tropes - highly recommended to disciples of Pauline Oliveros, Deathprod, Daphne Oram, Michael Ranta, Keiji Haino, CC Hennix.
Recorded between Tallinn and Riga during the late ‘80s and into early ‘90s, but sounding like it came from another time and planet entirely, Goncharova’s music is little short of elemental genius. This second volume’s 7 tracks once again draw as much from conservatory classical as deviant contemporary composition, jazz, and DIY experimentation. It’s a whole musical world unto itself, brought to life with an abundance of textures, tones, and unusual spaces that speak to a richly curious mind steeped in the convention-challenging examples of C.20th composition from Stockhausen, Boulez, and Xenakis, yet dead keen to push deep into her own world.
It’s a pretty much unprecedented study of a blind spot in our collections too, investigating Valentina’s engaging balance of disciplined and intuitive approaches to musical expression at a time when this kind of thing wasn’t really part of the soviet cultural conversation. And while there are clear links to her remarkable solo work found on Vol.1, this second set shows her to be a consummate collaborator, feeding off the radical punkish energies of Pekka Airaksinen (Sperm) and sharing a vision of free improv music with sax player Sergei Letov.
‘Reincarnation’ kicks off with Valentina in dialogue with multi-instrumentalist Alexander Aksenov on a balmy 4th world tip that bears traces of style explored in Vol.1. However, the rest of the set departs into more wayward collabs with Petrov and Airaksinen, respectively. Letrov, older sibling of Siberian punk non-conformist Yegor Letov, brings a cool control to her buzzing electronics in their first, but enact a finer push and pull of energies in their progressive, fearless clash of tonalities across the others, both surely drawing on a close knowledge of staging sound for theatre.
Finally, her works with Pekka are our favourite, with a trio of parts spanning head spinning organ whirligigs, intense keyboard chops and fluid textures salvaged from fragments of tape recorded performances that demonstrate how they were pursuing the vectors of Terry Riley / La Monte Young in their own, bedevilling style while also resonating with earlier CC Hennix works.
Stunning, once again.