12″, Other Electricities, 2010
The cover art speaks for itself: A man – cocooned, floating and very much alone – drifts across an unimaginable void, its blackness infinite, its energies boundless. “Galaktika” is this scene’s perfect soundtrack. Under the name Gultskra Artikler, Moscow-based Alexey Devyanin has composed an ambient, experimental album defined by utter detachment and cautious hope. Sonically it plays at the fringes of darkness, without ever fully plunging in. Full of orchestral harmonies, drones, micro-sounds and static resonances, “Galaktika” shifts the standards of the genre with the inclusion of an ever-present, thoroughly haunting and beautiful vocal element, expressed by ethereal choirs. We might as well call them space angels.
“Galaktika” as a whole is serene, a sort of zero state where complex physics, hard vacuum and organic sentience meet in delicate balance. It is a work open to interpretation, lending itself as equally to spiritual as it might to objective possibilities. Most melodic of the tracks is “Saturn”, though even its light, looping chimes are tempered by a scraping and sinister undercurrent. The grand harmonies that begin “Sputnik” are eventually surpassed by deep background rumblings and bass surges. Gorgeous “Asteroid” glides and drifts, at once evocative of hopefulness and desolation, and the ambient fades and reticent bells of “Niti” offer a peaceful but numbing respite. While reviewing these tracks digitally, it’s not difficult to imagine that their characteristic deep timbres and resonances would be even more fulfilling when heard on vinyl, the actual format of this release.
The rich harmonies that form the backbone of most compositions are contemplative, expressive of the album’s theme. But it is the stirring, wordless and layered hymns of the space angels that lend “Galaktika” its most distinctive attribution. First heard on the opening (title) track, they seem woeful and spectral in their initial presence, but as the album progresses, they become, in varied iterations, beacons of promise and possibility, as if watching over that lone traveler in the void. Tracks such as “Solnce” and “Nanorobot” may begin in machine workings and circuits, micro-sounds and incessant, unseen things, but later each makes a return to the stark grandeur of the voices. These incorporeal, quasi-human underpinnings reach their pinnacle in the closing track – aptly titled “Angel” – as if the galaxy itself has become a vast cathedral in which echoes a distorted choir. Gultskra Artikler has indeed created a graceful work of deep solitude and oceanic yearnings.
— Dutton Hauhart