CD, Kvitnu, 2008
Upon picking up “Reset” one cannot fail to notice the exquisite packaging – a simple, yet intricate, combination of embossed engraving and varnish printing on white cardboard. This care with packaging has been a constant with Kvitnu since its inception and confirms it as a label that aims at releasing works of art and not ‘just’ music. Dmytro Fedorenko (the artist and also label owner) is anything but a newcomer to the field of experimental electronic music. In addition to an extensive discography, he was also involved in Andrei Kiritchenko’s label, Nexsound, and its Live Reports sub-label, as well as being responsible for the Kvitnu Fest/Detali Zvuku experimental music festival.
Concept albums can be something difficult to digest and “Reset,” a compilation of Kotra live recordings, is no exception. After being treated to a nice piece of eye-candy, the listener of “Reset” is plunged into a laidback whirlwind of experimental electronica. Though seemingly random and potentially very disconcerting, there seems to be method to Kotra’s mechanical compositions in which samples and electro-acoustic elements are consistently and repeatedly distorted into feedback patterns and other high-frequency sounds overlaying barely recognizable rhythmic patterns and the occasional bass-line. As per the album’s concept and title, each ending track signals a reset and the beginning of a new chapter of aural experimentation. Taken individually, each track presents interesting twists on the way that the original sound sources are cyclically taken, manipulated and, at times, brought back to their initial state. Taken together, however, the listener will notice a certain repetitiveness as, save for a few subtle variations, the construction of most tracks follows the same modus operandi. This, coupled with the aforementioned ‘reset’ effect, can make for a somewhat frustrating listening experience, which should not be wholly unexpected considering this is a purely experimental release.
One thing comes to mind concerning this album as a whole: despite the aural aggressiveness and shrillness of several tracks, it is quite laidback. In fact, if there was such a thing as ‘avant-garde/experimental lounge music’ this could easily fit the description and purpose. Perhaps a concept for Kotra to consider, explore and develop in the future. In the meantime, “Reset” feels like a work in progress, the aural version of the artist’s notebook: it may be interesting but its appeal is limited to a small audience, and definitely an acquired taste.
— Miguel de Sousa