Boomkat Product Review:
Stunning debut LP proper by LCO violinist and solo composer Galya Bisengalieva, offering an elegiac lament for the former Aral Sea, now Aralkum Desert, in Kazakhstan for the newly renamed One Little Independent Records
Following recent acclaim for her exploratory EPs with the NOMAD label, Kazakh/British artist Bisengalieva applies the dream-like qualities of those EPs to a more brooding and poignant purpose here, layering her strings into panoramic, weathered arrangements that describe and evoke her personal sense of pain and hope for what has been called one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet.
The situation in the region stems from Soviet irrigation projects in the ‘60s which eventually caused most of the Sea to dry up, to the extend that, as revealed by NASA satellite images in 2014, the eastern portion had turned to desert. However, with construction of the Kokaral Dam, a successful effort was made to retain the remaining water, bringing back fisherman and communities to the land, while the rest is left to toxic desert.
Galya’s tribute to the region, ‘Aralkum’ is thus laid out in three parts - Pre-Disaster, Calamity, Future - inspired by the region’s fate. Her strings gently billow out in the first part more sublime and widescreen than ever before with the title opener, but gradually turn inwards to pensive drones and deftly jagged strokes that feel the land atrophying, leading to a crushing sense of levity emphasised by weighty electronic bass pulses in ‘Barsa Kelmes’, and eventually a sense of suspended relief, with shards of choral light breaking her high plains clouds on ‘Kokaral’.