Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching the warm weather slowly slip away. But in Siberia, November’s daily mean is -6 Celsius (21 F). It’s already cold there. Winter is not something that’s coming. And so, this cassette from Klammklang ~ a Fuselab imprint ~ is perfectly timed.
While many are not familiar with the name Nikita Bondarev, the artist is better known as Speck. His ambient electronics have always been graced with a layer of modern composition, and on this release, the influence breaks through in a big way. One hears the instruments scratching at the door halfway through “The Place I Love So Dearly”, as harsh strums lead to swirls of snow-like symphonies. The snowflakes are dancing, looping, dipping. It’s not too cold to catch them on the tongue. As the velocity of the piano notes increases, one imagines the storm coalescing, the composer retreating to the shelter of a hearth-warmed home, rattling off patterns on the ivories.
The elements break loose on the title track. Multiple string lines converge, separate, converge again. This is the tipping point of the storm, the moment in which one no longer questions whether it is safe to go outside. The only question is how long the storm will last. The wise loner will be prepared, with an emergency generator and a stocked larder. The body of the unwise loner may not be be found until spring. This is the nature of a Siberian winter; an introverted lifestyle is imposed on many, whether they desire it or not. As the sounds of the song settle, the snow settles as well. The melt will not be arriving soon. As the closing track explains, “Nothing’s Wrong, You Are Alone.”
The first pressing of the tape was ridiculously limited: 10 total copies, 5 each in different colors, with different photos included. These sold out in less than half an hour. The label is (wisely) releasing a second batch. As winter reaches the rest of the world, we’ll want a reminder that even our harshest seasons are no match for those in Berdsk. (Richard Allen)