CD-R, Dars Records, 2007
From the budding Russian label Dars comes this prolific recording by a mysterious project simply known as Aa1. Recorded live in 2005 at the first South Ural Electronic Music Festival in Russia, “Live at Electroline” reveals itself as a very literal title considering that the entire performance was improvised on the spot.
The music, if you will, is created live from prerecorded sound bites and woven together masterfully to generate a unique brew of clicks, static, whistles, creaks, bleeps, clangs, vocal manipulations, field recordings, glitches, dark ambiance, and any number of other electronic and acoustic aural emissions. Despite its experimental themes, the recording is actually quite fascinating and somehow manages to retain a relative consistency throughout. Every aspect of electronic music, past and present, is represented here in one peculiar form or another, but only in randomized spurts and ejections, backed by heavy drones, moments of string instrumentation, wooden drums, clanks, and bleeps. There are no patterns here; nothing to tap its way to the listener’s ear drums or induce one’s adrenaline to surge, only moments of concise tones, one on top of another, slipping and sliding against each other, while forming a perfect path past the tympanic membranes and burrowing intently into the deepest corners of the psyche. Although this serendipitous excursion may be bizarre at times, there are many interesting elements presented here, most notably the stark contrast between futuristic electronic tweaking and the simplistic tones of classical instruments. Impressive still are the many vocal manipulations that visit the mix from time to time, never intrusive, but always complimentary to the motif of the work as a whole. Rapid whispering, distorted beat timing, sliding drones, filtered static, and bubbling ambiance add to the composition like an intricate painting that only makes sense once you stand back to view it.
“Live at Electroline” is a weird and wonderful journey that is certainly worth taking for those who appreciate sound composition outside the realm of typical auditory comprehension.
— Paul Nielsen