Chekalin, Mikhail - Poruganie Patsiphika
Year of Release: 2007
Label: MIR Records
Catalog Number: MCD1000
Total Time: 71:44:00
Do you love drama? The feeling of nail biting tension and suspense? The uncertain thrill of the unknown? Want to get that feeling without the overwrought gloss put on it by Hollywood? Then close your eyes and listen to Russian composer Mikhail Chekalin's Poruganie Patsiphika (translated, Desecration Of A Pacific Sign), one of three new releases available from new Eurock imprint MIR.
This is Cheklin's "pictures at an exhibition," of a fashion. Recorded in 2005, the music was composed for a film based on the paintings by the "Twenty" ("20 Moscow Artists at Malaya Gruzinskaya Street"), a "group of well-known Moscow artists known as founders of the Soviet unofficial art movement of the late 60s - 80s," as stated on the Eurock website. "They were the original participants in the annual exhibitions of music and art by Chekalin in the 80s. The images, reproductions and slides used to [create] the cinematic collage are from original works now stored in private museums and collections."
Dark and suspenseful, this album is the soundtrack to the movie of your darkest nightmares, full of taunting menace, as evidenced in the opening notes of "Part 1." That may sound as if I'm saying the music is torturous - far from; although, those who only want easily hummable melodies will find far too many angles and edges. At times it is a gnawing, thrashing and slashing tempest as a crescendo of piano, orchestration and percussion all collide (as in an early section of "Part 2"). At others, it is an otherworldly sonic experience where pianos and synths bloop and bleep in an inky darkness lit only by soft glow of garishly coloured neon lights, as in "Part 3," which suggests at times some interstellar battle, at other times a wrestling match between two mechanical beings, and is made manifest by an angry and frenetic dance between piano and synth. At still others times, the music reveals an eerily calm eddy of atmosphere (the latter portion of "Part 2" for example). You will find at times that you think of classic Italian horror movie soundtracks; I did at least, especially during "Part 1."
Broken into 9 parts, you will find everything from classical to avant-garde to jazz (both avant-garde and moody, as in the first moments of "Part 2") to the experimental, sometimes at the same time. And yet it is something wholly organic, not some Frankenstein of parts sewn together because they're available or they fit. While there is chaos, there is order to the chaos. While there is order, it is a chaotic order. How to describe each separate part is hard as there are repeated ? well, not necessarily repeated motifs, but moods and structures. And because a single part can vary in temperament from the first note to the last, each piece becomes its own journey. Sounds slash, jab, prod, bite and kick and in between you'll hear streams of sound that flow underneath?
The most prog-like, as it were, of the parts is the brief "Part 5" - what begins as a martial march segues with a lot of flourish (slashes of tinkling piano and trumpeting brass) into lots of noodly organ, and ends again with a blurt that is as if the last footfall has claimed a decided victory. Some may argue that there are equally proggy keyboards in "Part 4," and they'd be right, in a track that otherwise creeps and slithers along silvery paths before encountering? well, like "Part 3," it takes on a science-fiction aspect, still metallic, but this time of things buffed to a high polish. If "Part 3" was Blade Runner-esque, Part 4 is THX 1138, to give you cult-pop filmic visuals, though other than for that juxtaposition between the two films, neither is really evoked specifically. (If you recall, BR had a very "grungy" look and THX was all "clean"). Though as with every track, "Part 4" isn't any one thing.
"Part 7" is ? is like hearing a 70s pop song on the radio (some pretty piano phrases) and then taking a sledgehammer to that radio (percussion) to beat to death some sugar-coated, idealized vision of the 70s; and I'll say the beat-down wins as the "70s" meekly tries to survive. Yes, that's giving anamorphic characteristics to something that is a hazy concept? "Part 9" is introduced by a grim church organ caught between the funeral and joyous, not quite reaching either as it switches from elation to depression within a sequence of just a few notes.
Every moment, every note is filled with drama, as I alluded to at the outset. Each piece is alive with movement, even when things seem perfectly still (which isn't often). It's restless, bristling, putting you on the edge of your seat anxious to see (hear) how things will turn out. Will this epic end badly, or will there be some parting of the clouds, some hopeful moment? that issue is never resolved?
Of course, I do not know the nature of the pieces musically represented here, or the names of the 20 artists (though I did do an Internet search), but from the music itself I gather that either the artwork itself was rather dark in nature or it represents the adventurous and, perhaps, dangerous atmosphere that these artist worked in. So all I have at present is the images the music brings forth.
I appreciate its dark complexity, its bold, strident execution ? it's not exactly the type of release that you sum up in a review by saying "I like it" and yet that simplified summary is very much true. Production on this excellent; with all the subtleties it would have to be - yes, in amongst all the harsh edges, there are elements that only reveal themselves on a deeper listening.While this is Chekalin's debut on MIR Records, it is far from Chekalin's debut, as he has some 30 or so recordings in total, including the two others released last year by MIR, Paradigm Transition and Untimely. There is an interview with Chekalin conducted by Eurock/Mir Records founder/owner Archie Patterson available at the Eurock website and in print in issue no. 52 of Progression Magazine as part of Patterson's regular "Eurock Notes" column; it includes a review of the DVD Poruganie Patsifika (A Post-Symphony in Nine Parts).
Part 1 (8:25) / Part 2 (18:02) / Part 3 (17:08) / Part 4 (7:40) / Part 5 (1:36) / Part 6 (1:05) / Part 7 (4:29) / Part 8 (10:38) / Part 9 (2:48)
Mikhail Chekalin - keyboards, synthesizers, percussion...
Vocalise IN Rapide (?/1988)
Post-Pop ? Non-Pop (?/1989)
Meditative Music For The Decomposed Electro-organ 1 (1982?/1991)
Meditative Music For The Decomposed Electro-organ 2 (1983?/1991)
Meditative Music For The Decomposed Electro-organ 3 (1983?/1991)
Practical Music Making 1 (1986?)
Between Spring And Autumn By Stealth (1986/1991)
Practical Music Making 2 (1988?/1991)
The Green Symphony/The Ritual ? Night For Voices (1988?)
Board State (1988/1991)
The Symphony-Phonogram (1989/1992)
Introduction Onto Intuction (1989/1991)
Concerto Grosso No. 1 (1989/1991/2000)
Concerto Grosso No. 2 (1989/1991/2000)
Russian Mystery (1992)
Synthesizer Music From Estonia And Russia (1991)
Night Pulsation (1993)
Double Album With The Symphony In New Age Style 1 (1993)
Double Album With the Symphony In New Age Style 2 (1995)
Album With The Symphony (?)
Porcelain God (1997)
Avoid The Desire For Cutting And Piercing Objects (1999)
Romantic Vampires (1999)
Last Seasons (2001)
Saturn. Izdeliye No. (2002)
Meditative Music For A Prepared Organ, Vol. 1 (recorded 1979-83) (2003)
Meditative Music For A Prepared Organ, Vol. 2(recorded 1979-83) (2003)
The Symphony - Phonogram, Vol. 3 (recorded 1980-89) (2004)
Green Symphony / Borderline State, Vol. 4 (recorded 1980-88) (2004)
Between Spring And Autumn By Stealth, Vol. 5 (recorded 1986-93) (2004)
A Pagan Suite (recorded 1990-91) (2004)
Poruganie Patsphika (recorded 2005) (2007)
Paradigm Transitions (recorded 1996) (2007)
Untimely (recorded 2000-02) (2007)
Genre: Various Genres
Added: March 3rd 2008
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]