Boomkat Product Review:
Remarkable set of compositions for violin that more or less reshapes what we know of the instrument in three different but equally startling and compelling ways. Oh there’s also an incredible remix from Actress as a digital bonus, did we say? What a f#cking record!
The fact that Galya Bisengalieva's pedigree working with everyone from Radiohead to Frank Ocean is the least interesting thing about this record should give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here. Leader of the LCO, Bisengalieva demonstrates on her second EP that genuinely “modern” classical music has nothing to do with the kind of middle class music for numbness so often associated with the term. Instead, and with the help of a couple of choice collaborators (more on which later), Bisengalieva methodically broadens parameters, rooted in a deep knowledge of the classics but not bound by them, in a daring pursuit of the new.
Opener 'Zohra’ was composed and recorded with avant-turntablist Shiva Feshareki, where Galya responds to Shiva’s extended turntable techniques with the recorded results then cut to dubplate and used in a duet between violin and turntable. It’s a jagged and to our mind completely unprecedented mix of keening dissonance and splintered junglism with a gripping focus on the physicality and resonance of their sound. To say that it sounds more like Photek then Erased Tapes should tell you all you need to know.
Galya’s own ‘Umay’ follows with a necessary contrast to the opener. Taking cues from the titular goddess of the earth and fertility in the Tengriism religion of the Mongolian and Hunnic empires - a protector of women and children - Galya mounts an almost overwhelming maelstrom of whirling strings and guttural, ragged low end that literally reflects the goddess’ mythical, radiant solar form with 60 (!!!) layers of electronically manipulated violin drones interwoven with virtuosic passages and driven by a “drum machine” built from recordings of a Shankobyz (a reed-based Kazakh instrument).
Chaines brings an otherworldly nature to the plate with ‘Claycorn’, a fantastic piece teeming with insectoid detail and chattering, characterful electronics which draws much influence from the animation of award-winning Czech game developer Amanita Design. Together with the gasping, hoofing machine rhythms and dreamlike wind-tunnel dynamic of Actress’ ’26 Drones’ remix of ‘Tulpar’ available as a digital bonus, it all adds up to one of the most thrilling expositions of new music we’ve heard this year.