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TRACK LIST: 1. Prototype 5:26 2. Vladimir Lenin 2:33 3. Whole Country 8:11 4. February 21, 1920 8:13 5. GOELRO 5:51 6. Modern Technology 6:38 LINEUP: Vladimir Kabanov – synthesizers, tone generators Michael Ogorodov – keyboards, sampling
Prolusion. TOTAL STATION is a Russian project that was formed in the spring of 2009, initially consisting of Vladimir Kabanov and Michael Ogorodov. "Live at Radio Weimar" is their first production, recorded in the fall of 2009 and subsequently issued on their own label, Pinacoid, the following year.
Analysis. When writing about music one tends to get a taste in music that becomes widespread. Each and every CD will have something new to present to a lesser or greater degree, and the total spread of stylistic expressions and variations experienced gets to be immense as some years pass by. But some types of music are harder to deal with than others, and in the case of Total Station I'll readily admit that I'm not the perfect choice - mostly because I tend to like material with an emphasis on either melodies and structures or compelling atmospheres. I like my fair share of challenging material by all means, but the extreme cases have never been my forte. And "Live at Radio Weimar" is a rather good example of just that. My impression of this album is that it is an improvisational one, and most likely free-form at that. If there is a planned structure for the creations contained on this disc they are of the unconventional kind, and if so, I'd guess at sequences rather than structure being the common denominator. I could be entirely wrong obviously, but that is my impression. An additional detail is that this is, as far as I can tell, a purebred electronic creation. Tone generators, effects and synths are the weapons in this duo's musical arsenal, and the former two are used extensively. Symphonic-like backdrops, new age-y textures and melodic electronic rhythms are sparingly used throughout to craft melodic sequences, mostly brief in length when not dampened and subservient to the rest, the rest being fluctuating sounds that may or may not be randomized. Dark swirling machine-like sounds, gently hammering noises, and most of all high-pitched fluctuating textures of a kind that made me recall watching nature documentaries that have recorded whales speaking; that high-pitched, and that intense. The occasional truly minimalistic sequence does appear too, exploring a specific sound more thoroughly or examining tonal or atonal resonances. Richly-layered walls of fragmented noises with or without a subservient melodic backing are another insert that appears now and then. But by and large this is a disc dominated by atonal electronic sounds and textures. I lack the competence to say if it is well made or not, but hopefully I will have described this production in a manner that will make those interested in this type of music seek it out.
Conclusion. If you like your music atonal, electronic and highly challenging, Total Station's debut effort is a production you might want to give a listen to. The men state that artists such as Pierre Henry and Richard Pinhas are important influences, and from what I have read about these two I'd suspect that fans of them will make most of the core audience for this CD.
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