Although CTM Siberia has helped to put Russian cities like Novisibirsk on the electronic and experimental scene map, it is mostly Moscow and to a lesser extent Saint Petersburg that still seem to commandeer most of the attention on the international stage thanks to high profile collectives such as John’s Kingdom. Adventurous labels like Oblast, hailing from the Samara Oblast, an industrial region with its capital on the banks of the Volga, are set to reverse the trend by highlighting the work of local artists, producers and djs operating from the country’s fringes.
Spade kicks off in suitably dark ambient mode by creating a brooding atmosphere replete with crackling menace and saturated with tape hiss. Its industrial music penchant is exposed through a disconnected and arrhythmic pulse that insinuates itself into the highly textured fabric coating the sonic spine of the opening track Nastrond. Like some kind of viral infection it looks set to take over the composite aural body pieced together by D. Towards, while monotone vocals, reminiscent of the work of such genre luminaries as Clock Dva, creep in on Spade 93 and further flesh out the album’s leanings. However, the foreboding tone is eventually smothered by an increasingly luminous beat that derails the proceedings by swerving decidedly towards techno territory on Hoes Like S. D. (long & hard), only to succumb to the more placid and spacey drones of TR.
What becomes soon apparent is that there is enough variety and change of pace throughout the whole album to keep the momentum going. Lo-fi tape loops are thrown into the mix further down the line adding an hypnotic undercoat to the multilayered aural machinations set in motion.
In spite of the varied different paths taken, Spade remains an impressively coherent album. A quick search on D. Towards offered no clues on the identity of the artist (or artists) in question leaving only the music to speak for itself. This is a strong release from an under the radar region of Russia by a fledgling label definitely worth keeping an eye on.
- Spade is available here both as a tape and limited CD-r release.