Dmitry Evgrafov`s latest long-player for 13071, Surrender, sees the Moscow-based self-taught multi-instrumentalist relinquish musical control*. Previously he`s worked alone, and largely, solely on piano, but for this new album he selected a team of some 20 players, and for one track, Endless, even threw the composition over to an algorithm. The app in question, Endel, was developed by Evgrafov and the responsive, real time, music generating Ai has just signed a 20 album deal with Warners. I guess the very definition of faceless techno, and as the number of post-classical / ambient streams continue to soar, for sure the shape of things to come. Personally, it`s super interesting that when listening to the set “blind” – i.e. ignorant of track titles – it was Endless that hit me as a standout. My notes simply say “beautiful”. The machine-driven momentum underpinned by pensive piano, and accompanied by ripples of ronroco, an Andean mandolin. Fusing the future with the past.
More tech and tradition can be found on Stymie, which is a sonic Zen garden of picked and plucked guzheng strings. But the Chinese zither zing is haunted by hallucinatory dissected dialogue fragments – the chatter of a computer neural network slowly learning to speak. Stymie is the last of a trio of tunes conceived as Evgrafov questioned human-kind`s ever accelerating drive to invent, and accumulate, things. The observation that we don’t really know what to do with all this shit we’ve created. That for all our invention , innovation, we have still haven’t cured poverty or hunger. Venting his frustration with this confusion in the glitched, industrial stomp of Context, and musique concrete of Anthropocene – a busy soundscape of drone, string quartet, and traffic.
On Sparkle drumsticks tap frantically like valuable seconds ticking, time running out for a mission impossible – as resources and ecosystems are exhausted at our hand. Sweeping orchestration underlining this theme. Epic, emotional, cinematic arrangements for massed cello, viola and violin also colour Splinter, Humble In Heart, and Rural Song – the latter being the closest Surrender comes to a conventional “classical” piece.
But there are moments of solo piano. Gymnopedies recorded, with an intimate resonance, on to worn-out, weathered tape. On Serene Air, treatments develop into an Eno-esque drift, as if accompanied by an apparition of Robert Fripp`s infinite guitar. On the closing Far And Close, they echo out into space. Leaving behind, bidding farewell, to a race that has lost itself.
Dmitry Evgrafov`s Surrender is released this week on 130701.
*A bit like Eno handing over this Glitterbug files to Jah Wobble.