I feel weird that electronic music has been around now for decades, and yet so much of it still holds this cold mystique for me. I know it doesn’t have to be cold—there is warmth available, even in the purely synthesized sounds (sans samples). After all, even though the music is made by machines, human beings made the machines, so electronic music is as natural as any other kind of music. Alexey Pushkin addresses this in his brief-yet-concise intro to this Anethema Sound cassette, “Analog Concept Music” (or just “Music”, depending on how you read titles and authors). And even though electronic has been around for decades, and I am beginning to find a warmer place for it in my heart, I still enjoy the mystical realms that can be created. The man behind Analog Concept has emerged in the last year as one of the most capable musicians at the helm of an array of electronic synthesizer modules. And since he feels so adamant about the inevitable marriage between “Science” (side A) and “Nature” (side B), perhaps he has a unique window through which to project his multi-colored light.
“Analog Concept Music” is a demonstration of the possible dialogue of electronics (or on a larger scale, ‘new-age’ technology) can have in the lives of people who simultaneously strive to feel like wholly organic animals. The A-side, “Science” opens with high-frequency tones, entering and doubling over into infinity. The delay module is set to brevity, but it repeats for seconds after each note. We bounce between two tones, each steadily rising in frequency and then a wash of brown noise seeps in around everything, like the soil enveloping a decaying bird. Side A moves forward in a rather chaotic manner, at times even stripping itself down to a very sparse-sounding orchestration. At some points, all we have are the persistent chirps of high-frequency synthesizer tones, with delay-soaked sine-chirps rising and falling periodically in the foreground. What is maybe a deep FM tone soaked in overdrive tunnels beneath the track, bringing me back to my equalizer to take down the low-end levels a bit. The sounds are all machine-made, but I’ll be damned if I’m not hearing a chorus of crickets backing this dangerous journey through the Zone. At times, more graspable tones emerge in a specific rhythm and note progression, but for the most part, “Science” is a confounding and thrilling trip.
The B-side is titled “Nature”, and it begins in a much more deliberate, studied manner. The sounds are still synthesized, but now things are moving more slowly. Synth tones drag on for seconds and seconds before changing, and even then sometimes the note remains the same and only the frequency is affected by an envelope filter. The track, as it progresses, builds upon this single set of droning tones, and it somehow manages to convey a feeling that is warmer than that of the A-side. We can forget for moments at a time that this is music is brought to us by way of a machine, and simply experience music made by a man. Eventually, crisp water samples emerge behind the soft synthesizers and we are entirely outdoors with Alexey. There are these vague crunching and sliding sounds, ‘field-recordings’ to use the standard term for the industry. The field-recordings move from back to front as the activity on the recordings increases in energy. All throughout, the same steady drones press along. Once the outdoor sounds end, we are left in a land of sweeping synthesizers and whistling sine waves. The real waves of water have hidden for a time, and reemerged as electronic waves of tonal synthesis, as rich and broad in texture and frequency as any river current or ocean wave.
Analog Concept is on a roll here in 2009. This cassette, just one of a handful, is one step for this artist in his ascent toward synth Shambhala. This is just one excursion, but it will nonetheless be an important installment in my personal index of key exercises in synthesizers. 9/10 -- Michael Jantz (12 August, 2009)