(All Album Reviews by Raymond D)
"It's their sound," he whispered gravely. "It's the sound of their world, the humming in their region. The division here is so thin that it leaks through somehow. But, if you listen carefully, you'll find it's not above so much as around us..."
Algernon Blackwood wrote those previous lines in his short story entitled "The Willows". I can think of no other description that conveys the soundscapes that encapsulate within Equilibrium, a 2002 release on, the fittingly titled, Electroshock Records. The primary personnel are Artemiy Artemiev (synths, samplers, electronics & percussion), a Russian "electronic" composer who has released several CDs of ethereal quality soundscapes and Karda Estra (gtr, bass, keys, loops & percussion), who's release, Eve has reached critical acclaim.
What's interesting about the release is that Artemiev's & Richard Wileman's contributions were recorded separately, as Richard relates : "As regards us not spending time together - well, it was an odd experience! Artemiy sent me all his atmospheres/textures as backings if you like, and I just went with the flow. Some (like the opener) was instinct/improv - you should have seen me 'directing' Ileesha's vocals, waving my hands around - very funny! There were bits like the title track that were grueling. He sent the singing bowls phrases and I thought, I could envisage piano to it - so I tried to overlay a click track to get some point of regular reference - impossible!!"
The vocalist Richard alludes to is Iliesha Bailey, who provides the haunting and hypnotic vocalizations on the release. Her voice will appear, as if out of the wind and, without warning, fade away into a swirl of electronic mist. Iliesha is like the Siren who tempts the Greek hero, Ulysses but, instead of plugging up one's ears to escape "fate", you are drawn deeper into a world which is dark and macabre wondering if your "fate" is, indeed, sealed.
If hope does spring eternal, however, it is presented courtesy of this dark "play's" Orpheus; the oboe playing of Caron Hansford. Her soothing melodies, especially on "The Curtain Falls", pulls the music out from the abyss where we are re-joined with a cerebral optimism that gives us a cause to continue with the hope that somehow our existence may not be decided by the shadows beyond our reach.
The music, though improvised in parts, comes across as a single structure, parts fugue in and out with skillful editing to keep the listener wondering when the next sensory experience will invade our inner being and take us beyond the natural boundaries of our dream world where we will come face-to-face with what "truly" frightens us. One only has to listen to "Last Scene On Earth" or "The Teller Of The Tale" to know what I mean. On the latter, Richard describes "...I couldn't get a fix on Artemiy's rhythms, so I thought I'd make the guitar parts even odder. Then I did some live improvs against the two - I keep saying about the sweat dripping off my trying to get that one nailed, but I struggled like mad with that one!"
Richard may have struggled like mad but the end result may cause madness. Like those 2 young campers, in "The Willows", who spent an evening on the banks of the Danube, driven to insanity by their own imaginations. This is music that will make your senses come alive - how will YOU fare?