As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi.
Following up your first release — a cassette at that — with a double disc set seems destined for failure. The world’s knowledge of Sergey Kozlov is just blossoming and the ratio of listeners-to-uninformed is astronomically high. The Stunned release of Estcho from Sergey’s nom de plume Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi shatters expectations and transforms the ignorant into scholars.
Deep within Western Russia, Kozlov dissects years of errant radio signals into elaborate collages of kraut, tribal, pop and electrobabble. That his second release needs two discs to put it into prospective may seem a tad over-zealous but as the seconds turn to minutes and the minutes bleed into repeated listens, it’s quite clear that Kozlov has a firm grasp on his creative juices. To separate any of these tunes for the sake of a smaller, less challenging release, would doom Estcho to a life of emptiness — questions of what could and should have been.
Disc One will prove the most challenging to listeners dipping their toes into experimental waters for the first time. The three tracks, each longer and more frenzied than the first, will surround you from all directions with discombobulating sounds. Often times you’ll feel like a frightened deer caught in the ever-present footsteps of hunters in all directions. Opener “Jahendra Shitzaga” does its best to slowly immerse you in Kozlov’s rapids, occasionally bringing you and the jangling melody up for quick bursts of icy air. “Hoolienapophique” begins your lengthy underwater expedition, and though it’s a calmer affair than “Jahendra Shitzaga,” it never relents from its assault of metallic percussion and crazed walls of guitar drone.
Disc Two provides an accessible means for which to devour Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi’s brand of frantic energy. It loosely adheres to one of alternative and indie’s holy axioms: the power of quiet/loud/quiet. Much like Estcho‘s first disc, the tension is stretched like taffy through the second disc. “Bendefele Kuhe” eagerly begins with quiet guitar musings; the strings playing narrator of Kozlov’s second act. If the first disc took us under fast waters — sea life rushing by our ears creating a din of wonder and confusion — the second prepares to take us to the highest mountain peaks where air is just as scarce. However, where the music of water is heavy, the music of air is thin, which best explains the sound of Estcho‘s second disc. While it remains just as cluttered and disorienting as its sibling, it peels away some of the layers allowing for a more pleasant trip into the decoupaged mind of Sergey Kozlov.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog. You can now follow him on Twitter.