Mike Lazarev – Out of Time

Injazero Records announces the longingly beautiful mini-album Out of Time by London-based composer Mike Lazarev. Constructed as a soundtrack to an imaginary film, it is his first for the label and a standout work in his own high grade canon…

“I’ve imagined scenes, scenarios, and conversations,” Lazarev tells us, “where music would enhance a fictitious story.” Yearningly melancholic throughout, the key themes of Out of Time – the passage of time; fleeting moments; memories of images suppressed or imagined; the warmth of touch that lingers on the skin – are worn openly and artfully. It is unapologetically emotive, its string and piano miniatures wistful and stirring, just as cinematically evocative as Lazarev describes. One by one, each piece leaves a lingering glow like a distant fire on a cold horizon.

Opening with swells of strings and plaintive piano chords, lead single “Out of Time” sets a profoundly expressive tone. Each reverberating note is carefully, gently placed on a canvas awash with purity and stillness, finally building into a rushing river of breathtaking prettiness that culminates in a hanging, dead-stop ending. Later on the record, “Time Becomes” progresses like a Harold Budd piece or a Ryuichi Sakamoto soundtrack work, melting away the ice with dulcet chord changes as single string notes float on a rarefied air. “Outerlude” changes the mood again, its subtly Eastern European melodies and natural piano noises – the chatter of keys and shuffle of pedals – transport us to a haunted, deserted ballroom where a lone ghost pianist laments the weight of a tremendous grief.

“The protagonists of this imaginary film are constantly fighting against the fleeting moments on this plane. But it is less about death than it is about living. And most of all, it is all about time,” Lazarev writes. He is right: Out of Time is elegiac – heartbreakingly sad, even – but behind the melancholy themes lies a powerful affirmation of life, warmth, and the human spirit.

Mike Lazarev was born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1977. At the age of six, his parents sent him to a conservatory while his friends played football in the parking lot. His childhood passed by in the study of classical music and performing in the state choir. As a teenager, with his family, he left the USSR for the USA to escape persecution, freeing him from the strict academic discipline he spent his childhood resisting. However, a year later, music drew him back in: with his family’s first computer (“a Dell 386 with 4 MB of memory!”) he began using a sample-based tracker to make what was known as ‘techno’. By the mid-90s, he had produced a few records. Later still, now in London, he finally brought his own piano, and found a teacher to re-immerse himself in classical music. But, lacking the patience to practice, he turned to reductionist minimalism. Soft, simple, sad piano melodies that somehow leaked from a lost soul.


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