In 2002, the Russian composer Artemiy Artemiev released his second
collaboration with Peter Frohmader, Germany's master of dark ambient.
Recorded over 11 months by sending the tapes back and forth by mail, the
album follows the same vein established in the 2000 CD "Space Icon".
Artemiev brings in lush keyboard patches, eery singing voice samples, and
drum programming. Frohmader adds more keyboards and samples, plus occasional guitar and bass (although he has been downplaying the latter lately).
"Transfiguration" presents five pieces. Despite their numerated titles they don?t form a single work, although the mood remains rather homogeneous. "Space Icon" came very close to a space rock affair, but this one plays it smoother, abandoning hypnotic beats and swirls in favor of more complex and rich textures. The music gains depth, but it doesn?t completely fills the gap left by what's been lost in excitement. The 30 minute "Transfiguration. Part V" is a good example: the keyboard textures are lush, but the occasional beat sequences and recurring sound elements (a short twinkle, particularly) are enough to justify the duration. The album still has its good moments "Transfiguration. Part I" and "Transfiguration. Part IV" both song-like, but it feels a bit weak coming from these two artists.
Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")
"Transfiguration" is a collaboration between two multi-instrumentalists and their multi-track studios - in other words it is magic time! "Part I" starts with some simple loops and samples, repetitive but it sets up the rhythm for this track and underpins it while Peter Frohmader's guitar does its own loosely cyclical part. "Part II" begins with a slow drum beat and ambient synth washes followed by some flute-like synth melody lines that are lovely to listen to. All in all, this one very dreamy track that packs a bit of a surprising punch in the last minute. "Part III" continues with a very similar melody line, clothed in sampled voices and synthesised atmospherics, staggered percussion and a low-key but persistent groove pushes the track along very nicely. So far so good - overall impression is that I am loving this. "Part IV" is next, ethnic-style percussion and deep echo-laden drums crash out as layer after layer of instrument appears - very dramatic sounding, definitely an oriental vibe and would make a great soundtrack for a Hong Kong-produced thriller. One can almost visualise the chase across HK harbour in junks... Final track is "Part V", the longest track on the album at nearly thirty minutes, it's also the most cosmic, a series of loose drum rhythms, limpid keyboard lines, ambience and an overall feeling of drifting where the sun doesn't shine.
"Transfiguration" is an album of many moods, at times forceful but also laid back, it ranges from avant-garde to commercial electronica, but it is always listenable and at times quite stunning in its range of sounds and their musical manipulation. It's difficult to allot credit to either musician, their individual styles have merged seemlessly together here. Another winner for "Electroshock Records".
John Peters ("The Borderland")
When I found out that Artemiev and Frohmader were working together I wasn't surprised at all, it all made perfectly sense to me! Peter Frohmader is known for playing his guitars and basses over layers of keyboards, long lush synth chords and sequences but never throwing away the beat. This is what happened in this case too, but it sounds like the German composer has also added more keyboards, to those already laid down by his Russian companion, thus widening the rich sound palette that "Transfiguration" is based by and originated from. Considering that it took the couple almost an entire year to achieve this, it sounds like they never met and instead mailed each other the tracks some way until done. This is their second collaborative work (after "Space Icon", from two years ago). The five tracks are numbered and vary in length, ranging from a little over five minutes and a half to almost half an hour. Detailed and outlined beat structures and sytnh/synth-bass lines make for an easier approach to Artemiev's musical art. A pleasing experience that combines electronics, atmospherics, rock, ambient, fusion, experimental music and more, all nicely driven by rhythms and sound sequences. Considering how many genres converge in "Transfiguration" it is probably safer to just say that it represents a very good example of what electroacoustic avant-garde, two terms often used to describe Electroshock releases, is or can be.
Marc Urselli-Schaerer ("Chain D.L.K.")
A new collaboration between Artemiy Artemiev and Peter Frohmader, that provides us with another musical adventure of discoveries. The alchemy between both musicians functions well, and we have impressive passages where numerous elements converge, a priori strange among themselves, but they do fit to shape music ranging from Psychodelia to Space, Industrial and other avant-garde currents. Artemiy Artemiev possesses, like his father, a wide experience in the creation of movie soundtracks on the one hand, and works of electroacoustic experimentation on the other hand. Peter Frohmader on his part is one of the avant-garde musicians with a greatest charisma in Europe. No wonder, therefore, that the collaboration between both musicians is always a sound surprise box.
Edgar Kogler ("Amazing Sounds")
"Transfiguration" is actually two albums in one, to my way of thinking. Artemiy Artemiev and Peter Frohmader have recorded four tracks that explore various impressive electronic music (EM) arenas - all of them dramatic, rhythmic, and energizing. They have also recorded an expansive nearly-thirty-minute excursion into deep dark (and cacophonous at times) ambient territory. The result is an album that would suffer from split-personality disorder except that it kicks everloving ass! I love BOTH "sides" of this recording equally as much. Each track is titled "Transfiguration" except that each track has the appropriate Roman numeral afterwards (I, II, etc.). "Part I" opens with some swirling retro-synth textures and soon erupts into some thunderous rhythms (great booming bass) with laser zaps galore and Demby-esque synth choruses drenching the cut in high drama. Crescendos abound and a variety of electronic rhythms beat a mid tempo cadence into your skull. Serious "turn it way up" tune! "Part II" has a more funereal feel to it at first. March-like tempos are counterpointed by retro analog-sounding synths before way cool kinetic rhythms bounce in from the sides of the sound-field. A somber lower register synth is matched by a higher register flute line while analog synth sounds bombard you from all sides. It's like a war of keyboards - yet Artemiev and Frohmader never let things get out of control (and, actually, listening to this on speakers instead of headphones will soften some of what I'm describing as it will disappear into the background). "Part III" begins with solid Berlin-school textures galore. Lots of cool rhythms, some vocoder work, and lush keyboards in minor keys make this track a standout. The energy level of this song escalates and the intensity increases more and more as the cut progresses. "Part IV" juxtaposes electronics with subtle world beat rhythms and some cyber-jazz textures (via trumpet samples) but the track is so high energy that it still fits in nicely with the EM that has come before. "Transfiguration. Part V" is an example of how a single motif can be repeated throughout nearly thirty minutes yet never sound stale. Perpetual drones, forlorn musical notes, bubbling synths, and other overt electronic/spacy synth effects all combine at the track's start and the cut just oozes mystery and foreboding. Sparse vocal chant samples and the emergence of both timpani and snare drum rhythms elevate the track beyond mere drone ambience into something more eerie without dragging it into avant-garde hell. A steady drum kit beat is folded in to the music gradually and this is where the track settles, with some subtle permutations (and some unsubtle ones too, such as crashing noise effects and bassy horns blurting out now and then). The track builds and builds, becoming quite the musical "Bolero-ish" orgasm of notes, rhythms, and electronics. It's possible that some people will find this strange combination (four highly accessible EM numbers followed by a 30-minute dark ambient/rhythm tone poem, filled with strange noises, some alarmingly loud percussion, and a sense of dread which permeates the environment) hard to get a hold of. I'll admit that I wasn't sure what I thought of it until I immersed myself on headphones one day. It was at that point that I began to enjoy the long ambient track and its slow evolutionary style as it makes micro-moves from one texture to another. The first four tracks are automatic - any EM lover will enjoy these various treatments on melody and rhythm. The last
"Transfiguration" track, though, will require some getting used to, with it's arrhythmic cymbal crashes, both rhythmic and irregular snare beats, gongs, noises, and apparent semi-randomness. But let "Transfiguration V" sink in and you'll be stunned at how all-enveloping it all becomes. This is one seriously cool album and I recommend it highly to both EM and dark ambient fans (who are not addicted to "softer" ambient music and don't mind some thunder amidst the drones).
Bill Binkelman ("Wind & Wire")
"Transfiguration", by Artemiy Artemiev and Peter Frohmader (ELCD021) is the first from a long list of releases. Artemiy shouldn't really need any intro from us, as he's the main man behind the label. Peter Frohmader has appeared a few times on the Electroshock label, and indeed, he's even sent us ("Modern Dance") two albums from his own label which were reviewed a couple of issues back. The album arrives with five tracks, Transfiguration parts one to five. Part I (or track one if you want to be pedantic!) kicks off with a flanging synth which gradually builds up a load of other effects as a repetitive bass line takes up the main focus of the piece. In and amongst there's all kinds of swirling and percussive clouds gathering on the horizon. The bass-line does change, albeit subtly, and after around three minutes we're introduced to the beat. Similar to a family gathering, with all the sounds and instruments introduced, they begin to talk, building into quite a frenzy and then ending with a few sheets of sounds ripping across the speakers. Part II begins almost straight away with the beat, and sets the scene rather broodingly, reflectively almost as again different effects come in and out of aural focus. There is more of a melody with this particular track, a haunting flutelike sound carries us through to the end, whilst underneath it all the beat and sfx appear to compete. Part III begins with an almost "Tangerine Dream" styled sequencer sound. The sound effects on here remind me of being underwater, slow yet precise bubbling sounds pop in and around the main theme as it rises and falls in pitch. The beat here is well laid back, almost in the chill zone! The build up is quite noticeable as more and more sfx come in and the strange electronic choir add a Russian 'feel' until they stop and we're left with a colder, more metallic piece until the choir come back in. Part IV isn't as initially as impressive, the 'trumpet' sound sounds a bit cheap in and amongst the lush production and background beats. The beat on this particular track is almost African. Not too bad, but certainly not the strongest track. The last track, "Transfiguration. Part V", is incredibly moody and intensely atmospheric, again, liquid sounds proliferate, climbing the harmonic scale to whistles, and then beginning again. As expected by now, the beat comes in around half way through, with those sheets of percussion (like someone doing metalwork) ripping through the laid back mood that's being created. Certainly, this last track is perhaps the most adventurous, and apart from "Transfiguration. Part IV" (which still isn't too bad) is a very impressive collaboration.
Dave 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. On "Transfiguration", Artemiev and Frohmader collaborate on more familiar ground, rooted in rhythmic structures driven by synths, guitars and bass, gongs, and sampled voices and percussion, with a generous sampling of unusual electronic effects. Far more structured and repetitive, as well as melodic, the five pieces herein have no trouble finding a groove, yet vary enough to remain interesting for the duration. A natural comparison point would be the collaborators' previous release "Space Icon", and indeed "Transfiguration" can be seen as a natural progression onward from that. Those familiar with Artemiev's or Frohmader's solo material will find a good balance of both artists ideas in play here. Ethnic influences touch the music throughout in many places, but nowhere more so than "Transfiguration IV", which is essentially a piece composed nearly entirely of percussion, or on "Transfiguration V" which uses balinese gamelan scales - and while rhythmic on the surface, it approaches from a darker and more abstract perspective. 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")
Artemiy and Peter Frohmader follow up their previous collaboration - "Space Icon" - with a symphonic, cinematic, spacey and trippy set of cosmic progressive rock. Both musicians share keyboard duties on "Transfiguration" with Frohmader also ontributing guitar and bass. Anyone who has heard much of Peter Frohmader's music knows that he's traveled down a variety of paths from hard rock to electronics and much in between, and while things don't get too hard on "Transfiguration" his diverse interests do help to mix things up alongside Artemiy's symphonic keyboards. The CD is loaded with powerhouse symphonics and freaky DJ beats with spacey synths and just enough guitar and bass to pump a rock element into the music. We also hear some interesting combinations of wild beats and other off-kilter electro bits that parallel peaceful melodies and spacey synth waves. My favorite parts consist of potent symphonic keyboard driven progressive rock but augmented by contrasting playful patterns and highly thematic sequences. Much of this music would make an excellent soundtrack piece but includes lots of fun freaky bits as well. The CD consists of 5 tracks, capped off by the epic 30 minute closing track, a tour de force of spacey atmospherics, bleepy bubbly alien synths and heavily thematic percussion. The music drifts and pulses along as steadily developing percussive patterns and multiple layers of synths work together to create the image inducing slowly evolving theme. Recommended.
Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")
Subtle but stimulating grooves and a dramatic sense of space characterize this latest collaboration of Russian electro-maestro Artemiy Artemiev and Peter Frohmader, a German painter/musician known for his association with mecha-organic artist H. R. Giger. Divided into five movements, "Transfiguration" culls influences from the Near and Far East and Africa to cast its spell. Like its predecessor, "Space Icon", this is hyponotic chill-out music for the wee hours.
Jim Santo ("Demo Universe")