Over the years, Bulgarian producer Etien Slavchev, aka Evitceles, has perfected his brand of self described underwater electronica at a steady pace releasing on Opal Tapes, Sound+Matter, Yerevan Tapes, and Seagrave, amongst others, whilst also continuing to self-release fully fledged digital albums.
Honing his skills and unafraid to explore uncharted territories, veering at times towards rose-tinted ambient, as with his more rarefied album Naive Slumber from 2021, Etien Slavchev has now produced his first vinyl touching home base with the Sofia based Amek Collective.
Following on from Entwined (February 2022) an album infused with nocturnal reverie in which Evitceles indulges in his favourite pastime of night-time flânerie, Accession forgoes the urban and somnambular atmosphere to explore more expansive spatiality that disallows any gradual acclimatisation.
Entwined achieved that clarity of vision with sharp contours, only to be found in the stillness of night, occasionally slipping out of focus by falling into a cul-de-sac of vocal snippets and frozen loops. It switched from melancholia to floatiness becoming unmoored and less legible in its meanderings, before regaining its fluidity in its secretive deambulations.
While the previous album is an altogether more sedate, if still brooding affair, bar the euphoric leap of its title track, Accession reverts to the more restless side of Evitceles, mostly evident in his Opal Tapes output, filled with a sense of urgency and conflicting moods.
Acting as a prelude, “Solitude Essence” sketches the lay of the land with fluttering sonic droplets and beguiling melodies, set against a featureless white plain. There’s little here to suggest an ominous sense of impending doom, even when the air feels charged with the static of imminent snowfall. Still, by the time the opening bars of the second track kick in, one is already aware of danger ahead. And yet, the forecast blizzard is swept away by the type of icy wind that finds tears in one’s eye. Breathing control gives a steadying balance in face of mounting anxiety brought about by unfamiliar surroundings.
Evitceles has previously evoked images of caged lions, and there’s pacing and growling here too with a show of teeth to ward off potential enemies. But whenever things appear to come to some sort of climax, Etien Slavchev withdraws to a cooler place where nothing proceeds fast. Evitceles seldom, if ever, lets rip, preferring to keep his counsel. And if words spoken in solitude move in half light, leaving only traces of their intentions, any gaps in transmission are filled with lingering resonance.
In spite of its biting tone, its broken hands (“Ръцете ми са счупени”) and restless spilling (“Неспокойно разливане”), a luminous force emerges from footsteps standing inches above the ice. Drawing from a familiar canvas of industrial tones, propulsive basslines, and spoken words, Evitceles is once again unafraid of showing his vulnerability – as he did with Нелюбов (Sound+Matter / Sores 2020). Here he offers his soft white underbelly abandoning any resistance for “Comfort in Abyss” and dispelling in the process any abiding disquiet. By the time Accession reaches for closure with “Bluest Cure,” one is left shining with elation. A beautifully produced album. (Gianmarco Del Re)