Boomkat is right. If you’re subscribed to Boomkat’s mailing list, you’ve likely read the glowing review of Galya Bisengalieva‘s EP Two. But as Boomkat’s intent is to sell records, should we trust the site’s exuberance? In this case, yes.
The Kazakh/British violinist has been building her career for years, but this release deserves to be her breakthrough. She’s already worked with some of our favorite composers, including Hildur Guðnadóttir, Mica Levi, Sarah Davachi and Pauline Oliveros. She led the London Symphony Orchestra on Phantom Thread and contributed solo violin to films such as Suspiria. Last year’s EP One included works by Claire M Singer and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, along with Bisengalieva’s own “Tulpar” (remixed by Actress as a digital bonus on the current EP). But that release was a completely different animal: patient, meditative, serene. The same holds true for her work on Danny Mulhern’s Safe House: lovely, accomplished musicianship, but little hint of what was to come. In fact, only “Tulpar” (a Kazakh version of Pegasus) offers a glimmer of the absolute craziness ~ the creative fire ~ that suffuses EP Two with the sort of energy that makes one sit bolt upright. This is something new, an adrenaline shot all too rare in the music industry.
New musical forms are often built on the backs of the old, as younger musicians develop new approaches, blending genres to create unusual hybrids. This is the case throughout EP Two. One can hear the shattered glass of industrial, the hot metal of drone, the warm glow of world music, the tactile immediacy of vinyl and the dramatic flourishes of video games, all in the space of a quarter-hour. If EP One is a glass of fine wine, EP Two is a mind-altering drug.
The excitement begins with “Zohra,” which makes an immediate impact with splattered beats laid atop an Eastern drone. What in the world is going on? Turns out Bisengalieva is performing a dubplate duet with turntablist Shiva Fesharekim, whose debut album New Forms was released earlier this year. This instinctive pairing brings the experimental off-kilter rhythms of Fesharekim into a more accessible – albeit not mainstream – form. Here are two young artists fascinated with the possibilities of sound, creating an angular, original masterpiece. One isn’t sure whether to sit or dance; “Zohra” seems tailor-made for modern choreography. Then comes “Umay,” whose title is inspired by the goddess of fertility. The shankobyz (Kazakh jew’s harp) lends a sense of cultural connection, while 60 layers of violin create a feeling of religious immersion, like a cultish festival, the excitement growing as the flames rise. The ritualistic beat adds to a feeling of being lost in something greater. “Claycorn” begins with whispers and delicate purrs before turning into something large and dynamic, the beats turning the track into stomping mayhem.
EP Two is a declarative statement on the part of Bisengalieva. She’s making the rules herself, and her first rule seems to be, there are no rules. As of today ~ release day ~ we’re no longer thinking of her as an incredible violinist, but as a visionary. The beauty of this set is that we have no idea what she is going to do next. An album seems the likely answer, but what kind of album? Might it be something unlike anything we’ve heard before? The very thought is enough to raise the pulse. (Richard Allen)