With a chain of releases by Greg Haines, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Elegi and now Gultskra Artikler, Oslo?s Miasmah imprint simply has to be called one of the most reliable labels of the past twelve months. Run by Deaf Center?s Erik Skodvin (aka Svarte Greiner), the label offers a wide variety of styles within the framework of modern composing, field recordings, haunting narrative and subtle cinematic electronica. Skodvin?s trademark style is very present, especially on the two most recent releases, which is not a bad thing at all and underlined by the fact that he also does all the artwork and design.
I?ve had this cd for more than a month now, and it has never been far from my stereo. And there it will remain for quite a while as ?Kasha Iz Topora? will end up high on my end-of-year list. It has grown on me continually. Even if Gultskra Artikler are no longer a band but rather Alexey Devyanin?s solo project, this third GA album is more fully realized, using a mourning cello, a wide array of sampled field recordings, folk-tinged guitar parts and vocals that the press info winningly describes as ?knee-trembling? to tell the story of a man with an axe that makes flying porridge. Or so the label claims. The story itself, apparently written by a friend of Devyanin?s, is printed in the booklet, but it?s in Russian.
?Kasha Iz Topora? is a concept album about flying food, then. Judging from the music, the axe-wielder?s story must be dramatic, probably set somewhere between Devyanin?s Siberian home and his current residence in Moscow. There is a second in which Devyanin has us think he was about to unleash Ricardo Villalobos?s faux-mariachi ?Fizheuer Zieheuer? monster but this is one of only a few moments of comic relief. More characteristic of this album is the nostalgic feel created by the hard-to-identify screeching bows, the menacing drones, the approaching hiss, the earthen psychedelia and the ever-persistent crackle. This album has been compared to the Finnish free folk sound, and it definitely preserves that proximity to heritage and nature. It is, however, a folk sound as filtered through different layers and generations of Russian avantgarde. That, I would argue, is what makes ?Kasha Iz Topora? so unique.
After the majestic climax of ?Krovinka Moya? (a track not unlike Svarte Greiner?s ?Final Sleep?; it also features Kristin Evensen Giaever), I fail to find any further highlights (so far), adding to the impression that ?Kasha Iz Topora? is a bit too long. I blame the porridge that?s refusing to fall down. 9/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (26 September, 2007)