CD, The Eastern Front, 2009
This is a project by Vadim Gusis of Chaos As Shelter and Agnivolok in collaboration with other figures from the scene centred on the Israeli Eastern Front label. It’s described as an ‘extension’ of the Chaos As Shelter formula (a crude description of which would be ritualistic ethnic ambient). In contrast to Chaos As Shelter’s darker textures this is described as a ‘surrealistic industrial instrumental romance.’ Unfortunately, for much of the time the surreal and romantic (often kitsch) aspects far outweigh the more interesting though only vaguely industrial ones.
“Seeing Through the Wheel” introduces the album and is one of the stronger tracks, featuring a vaguely ‘Eastern’ sounding tune, whispered vocals, and various electronic effects. “Into the Pure Land” is an interesting blend of elements. It start with (a sample?) of some ritual singing and distant chants appear later. It has a melancholic/atmospheric feel but also features a strange sort of electro bassline with a generalised ethnic feeling to it. This “electro” and oddly poppy element re-surfaces on “Emptiness”, but is offset by ritual and discordant sounds. Here what sounds like a Theremin begins to intrude into the album and this soon becomes a little excessive. “Harmless Song” is more impressive. It’s a sombre and uneasy piece featuring distressed sounding notes and drones, giving the impression that “something” obscure if not sinister is trying to emerge.
Calling a track “Nothing achieved” is tempting fate and in this case the title is a little too appropriate for comfort. It’s at this point that the Theremin (if that’s what it is) becomes repetitive and over-used and this combined with an almost too kitsch theme makes this almost sickly (though perhaps that’s the intention). On “Grief” this sound is more restrained but still overdone, overpowering some interesting organ sounds. “Mindstream” features an organ sound and has a slightly clumsy/off key feeling plus some pretty kitsch parts that bring to mind 1950s sci-fi muzak.
Overall the album is fantastic, bizarre, uneasy, absurd, and tortured, some of which may reflect the environment in which it is produced. It’s hard to tell how much of this is deliberately humorous or excessively kitsch or whether Gusis simply couldn’t restrain himself from over-indulging. In any case, although this is interesting it doesn’t match the finer moments of Agnivolok or Chaos As Shelter.
— Alexei Monroe