In the late 90s, composer and label director Artemiy Artemiev released
electroacoustic works by American artist Christopher De Laurenti on one
of his "Electroshock Presents" compilations. That is probably how their
collaboration started - out of respect for each other's music. "57 Minutes
to Silence" took almost two years to complete. It ranks among Artemiev's
more experimental music and of the four collaborative projects he simultaneously released in mid-2002 it certainly is the most challenging.
Nothing is predictable during this hour of music. Both artists supply
ethereal electronics and ghostly samples. Most of the album is spent in
abstract electronic gestures, sculpted with artistry, slightly menacing. The
title of "Internal Static Bursts" describes the quieter passages very
well. The 15-minute "Transmission from the Coalfire" is the strongest
piece, a puzzling chunk of electroacoustics, well-paced and attention-grabbing. "Recalibration" leaves us hanging to microscopic sonic threads. Sadly, in "Receiver Through the Nebula" Artemiev comes back to his old self with sweeping synths and sparse programmed drums, dragging the tail end of the album closer to his CDs with Phillip B. Klingler and Peter Frohmader - an unnecessary attempt. "Solar Speech" brings things back to stranger territories, something like new age music revisited by Max/MSP patches.
Francois Couture ("All-Music Gide")
Never has an album title been more apt than this one - this collaboration between Artemiy Artemiev and Christopher De Laurenti certainly packs a lot of sound into the CD's 57 minutes. I say sound because I'm not sure what I am hearing could be classified as music as we are used to it. This album has a cosmic theme running through the track titles, and to be honest if you told me that what I was hearing was the sounds of stars and planets recorded via a radio telescope then I would believe you.
The album opens with "Conlon's Dub", not as you might think a quick visit to an Irish watering hole but an almost tribal-beat piece of electronica that whizzes between the speakers and fades to and fro in a demented fashion. "A Glimpse" is a short piece of cosmic chimera, followed by "Internal Static Bursts" which again is exactly what it says it is. "Transmission from the Coalfire" begins very quietly, the most peaceful section of the album by far - it grows slowly, a series of drones, buzzes, hums and cymbal crashes over fifteen minutes of extreme oddness before fading into the void again. "Aboard the Coalfire" starts with what sounds like crashing pianos and voices yelling incomprehensibly. Recalibration starts with distorted bells tolling and what sounds like rustling scaffolding, mixed with a ringing sound. Very weird. "Received through the Nebula" continues the cosmic theme with a slowly building soundscape that is mixed so low for first half that you need to crank up the volume just to hear it. This is the most atmospheric piece on the album and an ideal soundtrack if you are reading the source material for "2001: A Space Odyssey". The final track "Solar Speech" is really just a coda to the previous one, ending the album with more cosmic chimera. This is probably one of the more satisfying and challenging albums of the latest batch.
John Peters ("The Borderland")
It is surprising how Artemiy Artemiev manages to release so many records and how many of them represent collaborations with artist he knows, respects or released music by in the past, like in the case of properly titled "57 Minutes to Silence", one of the latest collaboration albums on his "Electroshock Records" (which by the way could very well have been released on "Staalplaat"), involving the great American composer Christopher De Laurenti and presenting you with eight tracks of claustrophobic experimental industrial "music". Definitely one of the most out of the ordinary and challenging of Artemiev's collaborations, these 57 minutes escape his usual style made up of a classical synthetic and analog synth sound library to bring you nightmarish deceptive repetitive loops, painful harsh noises, sharp and hi pitched whistling buzzes, cold stellar found sounds, random field recordings and more... Musical structures, in the common meaning of the word, are discarded, a new path is followed, randomness and noise seem to be dominating, but in the same way there is an order in chaos, there is one here too, plus it's definitely less extreme and more organized than some brutal Japanese noise we know so well. It is decidedly less of a musical record, but a very remarkable one indeed. Unpredictable noises, differing in source, frequency range, loudness make for an awfully dynamic tracklist where soundtracks for madness are interrupted by quite yet disquieting longer suites that take a dive into the cosmic dimension that seems to be the theme here, at least judging from the titles of the compositions. A special flower in the Electroshock garden for those who don't fear to dare to test their limits with some very interesting audio material.
Marc Urselli-Schaerer ("Chain D.L.K.")
Yet another collaboration with the man, this time Artemiy's with Christopher De Laurenti, and it's called "57 Minutes to Silence" (ELCD 029). The album kicks off with "Conlon's Dub", a play on the style of Dub and the intensity of (I presume) Conlon Nancarrow, one of Zappa's heroes. It's a track that won't appeal straight away, mainly because, like I say, it's intense repetition and subtle dub qualities seem to oppose, yet it works rather well. I love the mix of musical cultures that often exists on some of these collaborations, obviously Artemiy is from Russia, and Laurenti is from the States. "57 Minutes", again, is an intense and very experimental album, proving, if nothing else, that Artemiy has an amazing skill as a collaborator and co-writer as all his collaborations are equally different. Tracks like "Internal Static Bursts", "Solar Speech" and "Recallibration" are not the place I would recommend new ears to grab a listen. Like a couple of the emerging electronic experimentalists over in the UK, this material can be dangerous. On the one hand it inspires and certainly breaks barriers, on the other it could alienate totally. All I'll say is tread very carefully with this one. Obviously, if you're used to the 'new' concepts of sound, then hey, dig in!
David W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")
Artemiy Artemiev has solid credentials in the field of avant-garde electroacoustic music, from his earlier electronic endeavors like "Cold" and "Point of Intersection", to his Electroshock label Electroacoustic Music series, each presenting an array of experimental compositions by various composers. These four recent releases present collaborations with some of his notable contemporaries; in the case of PBK and Frohmader, Artemiev has collaborated with them on earlier recordings, while these are his first with Seattle based De Laurentis and the British ensemble Karda Estra. "57 Minutes to Silence" is essentially a free sonic improvisation of sampled, recorded, or other mysteriously produced sounds, sometimes presented in repetitive looping structures, but more often times floating and free-form. There are times that the levels go so low that one would swear that the CD is over until you crank up the volume and hear some faint droning at a level undetectible at a normal listening level. If you are looking for melody, harmony, and other such elements of standard composition, you won't find it here anywhere. Blocks of noise and grating industrial sounds float in and out of focus over an electronic backdrop, twisting and burning their way into the listener's psyche. Sometimes jarring, hard-edged, and downright frightening, other times gentle and subtle, with bristling energy that lies just below the surface, but it's never far from the cutting edge - along with creative studio techniques to enhance whatever resulting sound.
In summary, these showcase a new waterfront in electroacoustic music, reaching well beyond traditional electronic and ambient realms and infusing both with some very avant-garde and experimental ideas. While any of these might be recommended for those already into 'challenging' music, "Transfiguration" and "Equilibrium" probably offer a better embarking point for listeners steeped in traditional structures.
Peter Thelen ("Expose")
"57 Minutes to Silence" is Artemiy's first collaboration with Seattle, Washington based artist Christopher De Laurenti. I'd first heard De Laurenti on one of the "Electroshock" compilations and this album is very different from the symphonic Vangelis styled music heard on that track. "57 Minutes to Silence" includes some of the harshest works I've heard from Artemiy. Relatively short tracks like "A Glimpse" treat us to an ear piercing array of sounds. "Conlon's Dub" is an avant-tribal electro-percussion dance around the campfire. "Aboard the Coalfire" is a gorgeously chaotic piece that brings to mind a spaceship crashing into a symphony hall. And "Recalibration" is a subtle and often quiet blend of static, noise, and the swirl and hum of aircraft engines. But there are also two lengthy tracks in which the duo take time to stretch out. "Transmission From the Coalfire" begins with quietly flowing orchestral atmospherics that include an underlying flying saucer spiraling wildly. The music drifts along peacefully for about 5 minutes at which point the volume and intensity levels rise as sweeping waves of sound like wind blasting through a cave crashed into my ears, rumbling in my eardrums and pulsating in my brain. There's not really a lot happening but it's the physical effect that makes this sound sculpture stand out. I found myself dodging and weaving (with hand firmly on the volume control) as rushing waves of sound quickly but fluidly transformed from ambient to whistling to almost mind shattering. They hover like a tornado deciding which way to turn... then suddenly twist and dart off causing massive destruction. "Received Through the Nebula" is a similar but far more ambient and understated work. The artists paint an aural landscape of spacey atmospherics, and the listener need only sit back and enjoy the ride. Some very interesting ideas and effects though overall this album didn't excite me as much as the others.
Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")
As if inspired by the ghosts of an abandoned mine, this album permits the listener to look through a series of windows towards places where our earthly reality never reaches. The treatment of sound that the artists have given the pieces puts any natural sound or any sound that could be created with a musical instrument far away from us. They make spooky whispers paint terrifying melodies, as if they were transmissions from feral regions of cosmic devastation or from the dark depths of hell.
Dominique Chevant ("Amazing Sounds")
Readers may be familiar with Christopher De Laurenti as an insightful commentator on new music, but his own compositional chops are equally impressive. "57 Minutes to Silence" is a collaboration with Russian electronician and film composer Artemiy Artemiev on the latter's "Electroshock Records" label. After the claustrophobic tightly packed loops of "Conlon's Dub" and the ghostly upper atmosphere wails and sinister metallic drones of "A Glimpse" and "Internal Static Bursts", the central "Transmission from the Coalfire" descends into what De Laurenti amusingly (and accurately) describes as "Vangelis meets Bernhard Gunter". "Aboard the Coalfire", with its truncated screams and bleak clattering, is more disturbing still, after which "Recalibration" and "Received Through the Nebula" recall the blasted post-industrial landscapes of Tarkovsky's "Stalker". The final "Solar Speech" rounds off an accomplished - if unsettling - album.
DW ("Paris Transatlantic Magazine")
The title's somewhat of a misnomer, as you need not sit through the full 57 minutes of this CD before all sounds subside. Silence, or a state very close to it, is generously applied throughout, to the extent that a distracted listener might often be fooled into thinking this record was done. But don't touch that dial! The next skull-cracking blast of abrasive oddness is right around the corner. "Conlon's Dub" sets the mood with the wild amplitude shifts of its sci-fi jungle beats - imagine the drummers of Burundi strapped to a pulsar. "Transmission From The Coalfire" and "Received Through The Nebula" are glacial burns, emerging from subsonic depths with exquisite slowness. Not all is stately quietude; "Internal Static Bursts" pummels with pink noise and the shreiking winds of "Solar Speech" will send Rover yelping to his doghouse. Two years in the making, Art Artemiev's collab with Seattle-based sound sculptor De Laurentis is not what most would consider accessible (or music, for that matter), but if you're in the mood for something really out there, well, you've been warned, comrade.
Jim Santo ("Demo Universe")