Featured ReviewsReviews

Cisfinitum / The [Law-Rah] Collective – [ANS]werk

Cisfinitum/ The [Law-Rah] Collective - [ANS]werkCisfinitum webpage / The [Law-Rah] Collective webpage

Fario presents a new release in their split releases series, a five-track CD packaged in a special oversized cover artwork limited to 500 copies. This time the invited guests are two dark ambient/drone/experimental masters: the Russian one-man project Cisfinitum and the Dutch [law-rah] collective.
This record is an homage to the ANS Synthesizer, a rare photoelectronic musical instrument created by Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin from 1937 to 1957. ANS stands for Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, the great Russian composer who was an early promoter of color/sound theories in composition. The synthesizer was housed in the electronic music studio situated above the Scriabin Museum in Moscow before moving to Moscow State University, and was used by Stanislav Kreichi, Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina and other Soviet composers. Also, Edward Artemiev wrote many of his scores to Andrei Tarkovsky’s movies with the help of the ANS, for instance “Solaris” (1972).
Nowadays the only ANS device is available to a very restricted circle of musicians, as the single original model has been destroyed and the only device in existence, an improved later version, belongs to Moscow State University. Although the ANS has not achieved mainstream notoriety, the idea of transforming graphical inputs into sound structures prevailed and can now be emulated simply through computers.
In this split album, Cisfinitum and the [law-rah] collective used original sound recordings from the ANS interspersed with additional recordings of various analog synths, fractal and granular synthesis complemented by Tibetan singing, Polivoks, violin and field recordings.
The artists definitely decided to make a very visually inspired work, suggested by the cover artwork, a complex fractal pattern. Also, the fractal and granular synthesis – each project having its own manner, despite the already unconventional method – are different, visually understandable approaches to sound manipulation, turning real world images into sound through fractal synthesis or splitting the sound into granular clouds with granular synthesis.
The first three tracks are from the [law-rah] collective. It starts with “broken gl[A]ss”, a tone-infused drone piece that evolves the listener and prepares him for the beginning of this journey. It goes further with “broke[N] mirrors”, another tone operated track, with a quiet, evolving fill that actually gives the listener the illusion of travelling up and down through a never-ending, low light empty room. The third and last exercise from the [law-rah] collective, “broken dream[S]”, operates in a more forward moving horizontal direction when compared with the previous track.
Cisfinitum’s solo voyage is “tr[ANS]”, a patient and tremendous track lasting for almost 23 minutes, with plenty of luxurious reverberation that guides the listener through undisclosed and mystifying fields where, from moment to moment, familiar sounds are almost recognizable. But these flashes are momentary, and the listener plunges time and again into the infinite trip when time and space collide and become mutually irrelevant. This track is a brilliant opus and definitely my preferred work from this album. Both acts are responsible for “[ANS]werk”, which fades out the album starting with early style synth work, remembering the synth experiments of the 1930s and ’40s, but later turning into a more concrete and contemporary approach with experimental percussion and violin dissection.
The album may be a difficult to review, and I am sure that each listener would perceive it completely differently, but I am sure you that it will provide an abstract aural experience that definitely deserves to be enjoyed and surely remembered for a long time… and space.


— Nelson B.

Leave a Reply