Mike Lazarev ~ Out of Time

For the past year, we’ve been living in Pandemic Time, thinking about our own fragility and the relationship of time to eternity.  Freed of many ordinary markers ~ work, school, celebrations and vacations ~ we have suffered from time distortion, as if in a constant state of jet lag.  Some months seem to last seasons.  Good times, few and far between, seem to pass in minutes.  To quote Chicago, “does anybody really know what time it is?”

Out of Time serves as a brief meditation on time.  The title suggests one removed from time, or in a different sense, one whose time is ending.  Track titles such as “Delayed,” “Too Late,” “Somewhere Sometime” and “Off Time” use different angles.  Mike Lazarev seems to be making two statements, both valid: that time is fleeting (“Let’s do the time warp again!”) and of infinite value (“If I could save time in a bottle …).  It’s difficult to make the case without lyrics, so the experience of the EP is important: ten tracks in twenty-three minutes, too soon done.

The most substantial entry is the title track, the most orchestrated and the only one (to date) with a video, directed by Jessie Rodger.  The ocean images recall Alan Parsons (“Time is flowing like a river to the sea”), the fluid movements of Nancy Nerantzi a surrender to the currents.  The black and white photography makes the season seem like winter, but the bare feet and flowers sing of spring.  Perhaps unintentionally, a passage in the final minute recalls Abba:  “When you’re gone, how can I even try to go on?”  The piano retreats to an echo; the dancer sits and stares at the sea.

In the other tracks, Lazarev demonstrates a preference for sparse notes that fall like flakes.  The space between notes is as important as the notes themselves, begging for reflection and perhaps rumination; the cover image portrays a bleeding heart.  When one’s heart has been injured, time becomes a trap, memories and mistakes refusing to leave.  “Delayed” and “Too Late” fall into this vein.  The former embeds distant conversation, while the latter comes across as an elegy, with morose strings.

How to escape from the net of despair, to put the past behind?  How to live in the moment and to make the watch tick again?  When a fog of drone descends on “Somewhere, Sometime,” Lazarev shoots through with rapid notes, a new sense of urgency awakened.  In the next track, the second hand seems to tick.  “Eternal” seems like acceptance, and “Finale” like hard-won resolution.  The time for heartbreak is over; it is time to move on.  (Richard Allen)

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