Boomkat Product Review:
The astonishing 90min depths of ‘Ocean’ unveil unfathomable layers to Ukrainian enigma Valentina Goncharova’s vast internal landscapes after two revelatory volumes in recent years. Massive RIYL Okkyung Lee, Teresa Winter, Lucy Railton, Svitlana Nianio & Aleksandr Yurchenko
A large-scale, variegated, and mystically brooding epic, ‘Ocean: Symphony For Electric Violin & Other Instruments In 10+ Parts’ was recorded in 1988 at the artist’s home in the Kose subdistrict of Tallinn, Estonia, and was originally found on the rare, 8CD boxset ‘Document - New Music From Russia - The 80’s’ (Leo Records, 1989).
With keener listeners primed by Goncharova’s preceding sets of ‘Recordings 1987-1991’, this newly resurfaced session grants deeper access to her singular soundworld; a slow-burning hybrid of acoustic and electronic inference that she came to formulate in the decades following her concert violin and composition studies in Kyiv, and subsequently at the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Conservatory.
However, most crucially, Goncharova is best considered as a “conservatoire deviant” who would earnestly undo her tuition in a process that led her off an unique path to what became framed as new age music, adopting modern recording techniques, and the freedoms of rock and jazz, that prompted her pursuit of improvised musical expression, and can be heard as a precedent for the likes of Okkyung Lee or Teresa Winter nowadays.
Intuition and stream-of-consciousness are the guiding forces behind the unpredictable wonders of ‘Ocean’. Any sense of logic is incidental, and more a product of the listener’s own attempt to impose narrative on the music, which draws more on a system of symbols and suggestive association, and the nature of language as a free-flowing form, than any fixed coordinates. Practically ‘Pataphysical in nature, the suite looks beyond mainstream contemporary physics, philosophy and fringe scientific research to pose freely-associated answers to open-ended questions on the harmony of the spheres, with self evident results manifest in the way that only music can model.
Ranging from primitive spectralism resonating with the output of Romania’s Hyperion Ensemble in its early stages, thru burbling minimalism, to skull stroking string resonance recalling Lucy Railton’s extended tekkerz, magisterial tape loops of accreted synth and operatic vocals, and its final deep dive into the depths of her soul, Goncharova’s work is radically free of artifice and simply sounds out-of-this-world, but is very much an expression of its most ephemeral, imperfect, unquantifiable nature.