CD, XORsix, 2005
The latest release from Krystov, “Dword,” swings into action with crashing drill’n’bass infiltrated by aggressive, Atari-style distortions and bleeps. This rather jarring beginning sets the stage for an array of influences, from industrial and rhythmic noise to IDM, while much of the album remains suitably textured with plenty of drill’n’bass attitude. Rhythms throughout the work are upfront and energetic, providing an often solid foundation over which Krystov layers darkly articulate and bass-heavy counter melodies, percolating synth lines and brimming atmospherics.
On “Dword,” Krystov is strongest when moody orchestrations of strings and piano combine to play counterpoint to abrasive, staccato beats (“Sensory Dysfunction” and “Xorsix”), a balancing effect equally powerful in the gritty, unsettling ambience found in slower-paced pieces (“Vehement Icon” and “Digililly”). He is weakest when he chooses to forsake these lush, well-executed symphonic elements and endeavors instead to explore unadulterated high bpm noise and glitch. Songs like “Dword” (the title track, no less), “Lost Faith” and “Sungod” would have better served the album with their exclusion. However, certainly moments of refreshing interest are certainly scattered about on this release. “Pteroptyx” is reminiscent of the familiar and menacing Grooverider (circa “Where’s Jack the Ripper?”) drum ‘n bass lower end, the closing minute of “Compound” pays tribute to classic acid-techno with mesmerizing effect, and “Gunmetal Rosé” is a welcome diversion in spine-tingling, grinding experimental electronics.
One drawback of “Dword” is its longer duration, which creates a virtual overdose of material. Taken as a whole, the album isn’t particularly engaging and generally lacks cohesive progression, which my attention span finds difficulty in assimilating. By Track 12, despite the fact I’ve only heard roughly two-thirds of the work, my mind is wandering. Combine that with the fact that several weaker pieces somehow got lumped in the latter part of the disc, almost as an afterthought, and “Dword” effectively loses my interest before running its entire course. That’s not to say Krystov doesn’t have several gems of power electronics here (“Sultanis” and “Gensect” come to mind), but more often than not I find quality takes precedence over quantity and wish he had kept “Dword” shorter.
— Dutton Hauhart