“Pastoral” reviewed by Cyclic Defrost

Release no. 55 from the esteemed Cronica label sees acoustic/electronic composer Arturas Bumsteinas flexing his experimental muscles by utilising all manners of acoustic instrumentation and then subtly shifting, looping and distorting various passages to create waves and drones of differing complexities. Whilst essentially remaining an organic set of pieces, each is tinkered with just enough to remind us that things are not quite as they seem.

Low grinding tones set off ‘Boletus Satanus’. Long, intense drones merge in and out of one another. The only credited instrument on this track is a tuba, and after a minute or two it becomes obvious. However, this is no straightforward composition: many of the passages are slowed beyond recognition, morphing notes into guttural growls and ominous, almost funeral dirges. Crackled and distorted hits grizzle away in the background, adding high end interest to an otherwise low frequency drone exercise. For a piece supposedly inspired by hallucinogenic mushrooms named after Satan, it is certainly ominous enough. ‘Dough’ begins with a solitary woozy violin, which is steadily joined by a trio of Lithuanian folk instruments, the Kankles, Birbyne, and the Barskutis. These 4 players fuse together forming a whirling, almost psychedelic (cliché, I know) kaleidoscope of dragging bows, haunting melodies, and volume swells. Each instrument is captured so perfectly in this open-air concert in Bumsteinas’ hometown of Vilnius, that as the crowd reception draws the track to a close, it’s only then you realise that it was in fact recorded live, such is the aural quality. Another live piece, ‘Violin, Viola and Untitled’ begins abruptly with blasts of micro looped sound superimposed atop one another, steadily building in timbral variations. Over the top lays the violin and viola, each repeating the same canon of identical harmonic series of notes, but slightly offset against each other, so as one begins the series, the other is already halfway through. A thoroughly dizzying exercise, it’s apparently dedicated to an empty room. 24 minute closer ‘Widna’ begins innocently, following the disorientation of the previous track. Accordion and guitar gently shift and shuffle around one another, slowly, almost dancing in conversation. As the accordion lays down the bass in extended passages of notes, the guitar sizzles and plucks over the top, both instruments melting together in unisons of frequency. A swirling, hypnotic, almost trancelike piece, it perfectly brings the whole release to a close.

With Pastoral, Arturas has created 4 vastly different pieces which somehow perfectly compliment and reflect one another, which is a testament to his fine compositional skill. Once more, Cronica have continued their legacy by releasing another high quality edition in their ever-growing list of artists at the head of their respective fields. But possibly the greatest thing about this release is that it is part of Cronica’s “Unlimited Series” of releases, a collection of free downloadable editions from the label. Get Pastoral, and other excellent releases at www.cronicaelectronica.org. Nick Giles

via Cyclic Defrost

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