CD-R, Dars Records, 2007
Can something with the most atrocious cover art that you have ever seen possibly be good? That is the question that I was posed with when taking a first look at Neotnas’ freshman release, “Spak Deti.” I don’t think anything good can be said about photos of babies superimposed on circuit boards, so I’ll leave it at that. Looking past my own aesthetic prejudices, I can see how the above-mentioned child imagery is relevant to this album. My slim-to-none command of the Russian language tells me that “deti” means “children,” so I see the reason for the application of said infant photos.
To answer the question that I posed in the first paragraph: yes. If you’re a fan of acts that take minimal electronic sound and seemingly emotionless tones to the next level of ‘barely there,’ that is. “Blum” is more akin to a skeleton of a song rather than a song itself. Conversely, “Picture,” with its aurally pleasing warm synth sounds, still manages to hold on to Neotnas’ signature sound without being overly bare bones. The same could be said for “V Glubine Uniloi Plavnosti,” which starts off pretty and melodic, and then combines with the project’s now familiar tape loops; simple but interesting drum arrangements, glitches and lo-fi minimal samples which seem to be a constant theme on “Spak Deti.” The ‘blink and you miss it’ noisier moments of “Micron” break up the monotony of the track nicely and offer an unexpected change of pace that I would have liked to see more of on this release. The childlike, playful melodies on “Second One” pay homage to the title, but also add a bit of silliness to the song, which doesn’t make it a favorite. I’m not saying the IDM should be serious business, but the kiddie melodies do bring forth visions of cartoon music. Then again, considering the title, one might be inclined to think that Neotnas is trying to accomplish just that.
While this album isn’t for everyone, I would certainly recommend it as an alternative to those who are in dire need of cleansing their musical palette of acts who use every preset in the book and stack them on top of each other. Boards of Canada fans might gravitate to it as well. If you like IDM that takes you on a roller coaster of emotional highs, lows and everything in between, I’d skip this album since it’s fairly cold. Play it to nurture your inner artificially intelligent child, but don’t reach for it when your girlfriend just dumped you.
— Bea W.