Boomkat Product Review:
The elemental talents of LCO violinist and composer Galya Bisengalieva flourish on a 2nd album of avant classical explorations inspired by Kazakh folklore, ecology and history - RIYL Hildur Guðnadóttir, Okkyung Lee, Jóhann Jóhannsson
Five years since snagging our ears on a self-released debut EP, and three since expanding her vision on first album ‘Aralkum’ - a record dedicated to the shrinking Aral Sea - Bisengalieva musically transmutes the story of the Semipalatinsk Test Site in the north eastern Kazakh steppe, notorious as the USSR’s primary nuclear testing zone 1949-1989. Also known as the ‘Polygon’, the the region may be isolated and relatively uninhabited, yet still combated numerous villages, towns, landmarks, and people who lived there, and its their lives and stories that Bisengalieva evokes across the seven-part suite.
Taking cues from the region’s literary notable Abai Quananbaiuly, its musicians and poets, and the area’s rich topography of mountains and pine forests running along the river Irtysh, Bisengalieva returns a captivating dramaturgy of multi-tracked strings and electronics that reverberate the natural landscapes as much as its nuclear radiation. While patently, thematically and aesthetically proximal to Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score for ‘Chernobyl’, Bisengalieva’s feel for folkwise dissonance defines her music here with a stark appeal, also distinguished by use of pulsating electronics, gnawing noise and overtones recalling early The Haxan Cloak records and pop classical soundtracks by Eno or Jóhann Jóhannsson.