CD-R, Zang:, 2007
Vasøk is Vasilij Malcev, a young Russian-born musician based in Norway who has built a reputation as both DJ and producer. His self-titled debut mini-album opens with a standard starting point, “Intro.” At two-minutes and forty-seconds, however, this introduction is quite hefty considering the entire disc totals at slightly more than 30 minutes spread across seven tracks. In light of the limited space allotted for the release, perhaps this wasn’t the best of choices. A mini-album’s energy should be spent ensuring that the message gets across in a distillation of artistic product, so to speak, and a long intro track just seems counterproductive. Moving on to the body of work, Vasøk claims influences from electronica and hip-hop to Russian protest songs and Norwegian black metal. With regard to “Vasøk,” don’t think too hard about any but the first on that list.
“Vasøk” has been self-described as “minimalistic techno” and can be readily characterized by its patient, unhurried and indeed minimal beats. “Uturn,” the second track, plunges the listener straightaway into the combination of confident rhythms and nervous, skittering clicks at which Vasøk excels. The attentiveness to detail, to layering and especially construction is obvious, and the tense, rough-edged sounds work toward an alienation of normative expectations. The falling tones (one after another, consistently) and curt, metronomic beats of “Rokoton” are a good example. Likewise “Conrad LE1” employs fuzzy bass pads, pushing the track forward from beneath with warm sonic nudges while a playful beeping melody skips about on top. “Murstein” is percussive filler, its skewed cadence continuing with monotonous concentration and little of the subtle variation that typically renders minimal engaging. “Break-Off” is much better in this respect, with various well-calibrated elements dropping in and out over a hypnotic polyrhythmic undercurrent. Vasøk’s final installment, “Madlayer,” amuses itself with chaotic chiptune flourishes for about four minutes before falling quiet. A nonsensical “bonus track” then surfaces, though it’s ignorable due to what comes across as simply onanistic artistic fiddling. Ultimately, the impression of “Vasøk” becomes one of too much time spent on self-indulgence and not enough on coherent content.
— Dutton Hauhart