As it often happens, I let geography guide me in my listening investigations. And so it was that, after having explored the Oblast label I happily stumbled upon this release by Doru Belu from Tolyatti, the second largest city in the Samara Oblast. Because of my origins, I have long been intrigued by this town that took its name from the Italian politician Palmiro Togliatti, one of the founding members of the Italian communist party.
I approached Lilac with an open mind, as there is virtually no information about the mysterious Doru Belu, either on their soundcloud account or their vk page (the Russian equivalent of Facebook). It turns out that Lilac is a gentle slab of ambient electronica. The overall feel is contemplative with a tinge of nostalgia embedded in the slowly evolving euphonic material, where echo and reverb help construct an airy ambience. Thoughts are allowed to meander aimlessly with no clear narrative emerging, as the tracks unfold in an organic way as if self-generating. The sparse synthscapes are sporadically ruffled by hints of melodies that are purposely left undeveloped and quickly dissipate into an elongated sonic flow that drifts mostly undisturbed. It is on the shorter tracks like Wolf 359 that the melodic side of Doru Belu is allowed to come to the surface, albeit in a very understated way, adding a welcome tension to the proceedings. In spite of a certain lack of focus that seems to leave the longer tracks occasionally stranded in harmonic cul-de-sacs, this is a promising debut.