Electroshock Records: Review:  
Antanas Jasenka: "An Artist and A Plane" (Electroshock Records 2004, ELCD 039)

06 tracks. Total time - 61:05.

In this album, Antanas Jasenka explores the hidden regions between "ambient" and "minimalism". The six compositions that integrate this CD, mostly based on unusual architectures of sound and electroacoustic collages, take us to an impressive adventure towards "The Unknown".

Dominique Chevant ("Amazing Sounds")

Antanas Jasenka's second album for "Electroshock Records" is a fascinating work showing a lot of resourcefulness and angst. Yes, it is fierce and occasionally harsh and dirty, moreso than his debut CD "Deusexmachina". The album consists of two extended works. "Artac" is presented in five movements, for a total duration of 41 minutes. It features a lot of sound sources, from snippets of recorded music (piano, strings) to communications-related noises (telephone, radio), digital electronics, and the voice of Rita Marija Malikonyte reciting a poem about sound transmission. The work stands somewhere between electroacoustics, the German-Austrian axis of experimental electronica, and the drone music of the cassette underground legacy. The movements "Transmitter" and "Skyjack Air" stand out, the former for its thick slabs of noise, the second for its quiet, serene beauty. The piece gives the impression of something youthful yet very mature and thoroughly thought over. The second work is "Electronic Sutartines" (20 minutes). Sutartines is the traditional style of polyphonic singing in Lithuania, Jasenka's homeland. The vocal ensemble "Trys Keturiose" provided the source material for the piece, but voice is hardly detectable as an element in itself. Backward talking appears in a few places, some dense drones sound like they have been derived from massed singing voices, but otherwise the work sounds much more electrical than vocal in nature. Buzzes, hums, clicks and glitches form the core of the piece, along with several drones and outbursts of noise worthy of Merzbow himself in the second half of the piece. It leaves the listener bewildered and confused, but in retrospect it doesn't lessen the strength of "Artac".

Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")

The next Electroshock album is by Antanas Jasenka - "An Artist And A Plane" (ELCD039) - and once again we have a "no compromise" attitude to what one normally comprehends as music. The opening track "Inflight", starts with the simple rapid beat of an oscillator which then broadens out to treated voices and continuously shifting washes of electronic sound. It sounds a bit like a ghostly radio with a dodgy tuner. "Ear-Mind Bodies" is next, opening with slow moving atmospherics before some orchestra crashes and a voice come in, along with a variety of unmusical sounds that create a collage effect. "Transmitter" is a full blown blast of cacaphony that only a transistor would love! The next track is "Tonus", an apt title for an exploration of pure tones. "Skyjack Air" begins with more atmospherics and repeated bursts of an orchestral chord, this slowly mutates into a slow piano sequence and that's about it. Final track "Electronic Sutartines" is pretty much an amalgam of everything that's gone before on the previous tracks, only in a more extreme way.

John Peters ("The Borderland")

"An Artist and a Plane" Antans Jasenka's second release for "Electroshock Records" is divided up into two parts: "Artac" a 40 minutes long musical suite made of five tracks and "Electronic Sutartines" a 20 minutes piece. Ambient, minimalist, post industrial, atmospheric, these are the words which could help to define Jasenka's style. Also sometimes the kind of sounds he produces is close to sonic events created on stage by performance artists. He likes to take little mechanical noises and build cyclic patterns that, somehow, could be further developed into rhythms but never are; everything is done in a slightly restrained way. Cut up vocals, foghorns, sirens, drones, crackles, creaking sounds, steam hisses, whistling sounds are delicately woven together to create strangely evocative sonic landscapes with a touch of humor here and there. A piece like "Tonus" is very musical if not melodious. Musical expression remains minimal: for example Track #5 "Skyjack Air", is mainly based on a repeated A minor chord sample over a C drone. So when a whispering woman voice sample suddenly appears this event takes monumental proportions becoming the apex of the piece and then starts a new musical cycle which is in fact irregular repetitions of a weirdly elongated major cadence in E. For "Electronic Sutartines", the most ambitious and longest CD piece, Antanas Jasenka explained in the CD booklet how he tried to built a bridge between the past and the future using a traditional Lithuanian folk song mixed with electronics. In my opinion to be completely satisfying, this piece would benefit from a warmer sound: digital distortion is not pleasant to the ear. But with "An Artist and a Plane" Lithuanian composer has certainly produced a far more complex and enjoyable CD than his previous "Electroshock" release "Deusexmachina".

Daniel Biry ("London Cinematic Composers")

Antanas Jasenka is a composer coming from Lithuania. He's not only a musician, he also teaches composition in M. K. Ciurlionis Art School since 2002. His work comprehend a wide spectrum of music: contemporary, experimental, avant-garde, electronic and chamber music. His latest work is titled "An Artist and A Plane" and it represents his experimental/industrial side. The CD is divided in two long hypnotic suites "Artac" (which is divided into five different movements) and "Electronic Sutartines". The first part sees Antanas experimenting with digital sounds where he creates a complicated but intriguing web of sounds and cyclic rhythms/loops. Sometimes it reminds me of some Boyd Rice and Coil compositions (do you remember the MLP as Sickness Of Snakes?) where long sounds hypnotize the audience while hissing sounds come and go creating disturbing moments. The second part of the CD takes its inspiration from the Lithuanian art of polyphonic singing. Some parts of the suite are made by "Trys Keturiose" folk ensemble but Antanas mixed and treated them with electronic sounds and digital bleeps. As result you get a twenty minutes long suite which little by little increase its pathos giving to the audience a growing sense of tension. An interesting work which will fulfill your experimental needs.

Maurizio Pustianaz ("Chain D.L.K.")

"An Artist and A Plane" is the follow up to Lithuanian composer Antanas Jasenka's 2002 album, "Deusexmachina". Jasenka has been active since that time, teaching composition at the M. K. Ciurlionis Art School and performing at several festivals. The new album consists of a 5 part 40 minute suite titled "Artac" and a 20 minute piece called "Electronic Sutartines". "Artac" opens with a repetitive radio wave pattern that sets an almost rhythmic pace for the howling, pulsating and droning soundscapes that fill the space around it. Efx'd voices, clattering objects, orchestrations and much much more mingle and morph with the electronics to create a steadily developing, often intense, landscape that is sufficiently busy and emotionally charged to keep the listener engaged and with plenty to digest. Jasenka does an excellent job of leading the listener through a non-stop parade of sound that could have easily felt like one interruption after another. But the skillful layering and carefully choreographed introduction of each element makes for a seamless flow, each piece joining its partners at precision moments. Some of my favorite parts bring together the space music and avant-garde sound-art worlds, though Jasenka also makes interesting use of noise and aggression. "Electronic Sutartines" begins with spacey atmospherics, volcanic rumbling and bleeping UFO effects. (The CD notes define "sutartines" as the ancient Lithuanian art of polyphonic singing.) We're deep in the cosmos on this one, though still firmly in avant-garde realms. But a huge melting pot of sound ultimately takes over while a wave of ambient calm drifts along in the background. Strange backwards voices, howling winds, machinery, bells and a dizzying stream of bits and pieces are thrown at the listener, and right around the 14 minute mark the music reaches mercury bursting peaks of volume and pure sonic hostility. Very intense indeed. Jasenka has produced a detailed and challenging hour of sound exploration that can only be fully mined after multiple listens.

Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")

Here in the West, the belief is still common that the music of Russia is lagging behind. Well perhaps this CD will cause a number of listeners to re-evaluate their thoughts. The ambient begins on "Inflight" with high pitched interference albeit kept low in the mix providing a sort of beat for the textures and weird noises to slowly envelop the piece. Thankfully the composer and arranger realizes just when to prevent the track sliding out of control. At first I was not sure about it, but like all good compositions, it takes a little time to acclimatize and now after only the second listen I have been converted to liking this marvelous opener. The second track "Ear-Mind Bodies" is very different and has passages of grandiose classical to assist the female spoken voice of Rita Marija Malikonyte delivering poetry. Its not easy listening as the ambient gloves comes off on the quite abrasive "Transmitter". It all finishes with a piano chord and then goes back to gentle ambiences on "Tonus". The last part of the "Artac" suite is entitled "Skyjack Air" and consists of a modulated low note which gives the piece a slightly sinister feel onto which classical style notes are added. It is rather strange, especially when the whole timbre suddenly changes, but also very fascinating. I consider this to be a very mature composition and not what I expected. The 20 min "Electronic Sutartines" is based upon the ancient Lithuanian art of polyphonic singing and the folk ensemble Trys Keturiose, have been sampled to provide a totally new sound. The singing is hardly recognizable, but it's still a very intriguing section of electronica. This is no easy musical outing as hinted by the label title and the difficult passages of what to some may seem like a cacophony of sound on the last track will do little to change their viewpoint. If you wish to be challenged, then Jasenka has shown the way.

Brooky ("Modern Dance")

Electroacoustic music has truly reshaped the possibilities of what can be considered musical composition. Take Antanas Jasenka's new work from the avant-garde Russian label, "Electroshock" (who continues to deliver essential new art to dissect). This collection of two ambient sounds works is a mind-bending effort that meshes found audio constants and slowly destabilizes them in a controlled environment. The opening track, "Artac" is a series of five parts where part one, "Inflight" borders on industrial noise with pulses and wrap sounds possibly emanating from an aircraft cruising in midair. Part two, "Transmitter" offers the most tranquil lull on the disc as a quiet wash spills easily into a steadily scraping commotion. The last part "Artac" is also ominous with its symphonic stabs over a steady warning tone before splitting into a spatial resolution. Possibly the most compelling track is "Electronic Sutartines" where Jasenka has taken modulation liberties with the voices of folk ensemble Trys Keturiose. Across the twenty-minute audio lab experiment, static builds up and looped backward vocals merge into and out of the foreground. Eventually the paranoia builds to extreme before running out of steam. In closing, with artistic minds as ambitious as Jasenka's it's possible that industrial music may yet evolve into a more popular international medium

Jeff Melton ("Expose")

Aficionados of experimental music only need apply here. Jasenka takes the listener on an aural voyage of eerie electronically produced timbres and heavily processed found sounds that surround spoken lyrics in different languages. The pace is slow and the trip often disturbed by unexpected sonics that jar the senses. Five tracks feature the voice of Rita Marija Malikonyte's reading of her poem "Artac", which concerns the transmission of sound. Track 6 is a 20-minute tribute to an ancient tradition of Lithuanian folk singing called "sutartines". The ensemble Trys Keturiose provided vocal samples, which Jasenka's has seriously processed and deeply encased in electroacoustic tones. Multiple listenings may be required before Jasenka's music grows appealing.

Mark Vail ("Keyboard")

"An Artist and A Plane" is Antanas Jasenka's second album for the Russian based "Electroshock Records" label. After his debut CD "Deusexmachina", the second work is "Electronic Sutartines" (20 minutes). "Sutartines" is the traditional style of polyphonic singing in Lithuania, Jasenka's homeland. This is the second part on the disc and the first half is called "Artac". It is a 40 minutes long musical suite made of five tracks. Together they bring more than one hour of weird and surprisingly electronic explorations. In general the atmosphere is calm with sparkling moments to keep your attention to the music. And just now and then we take a trip to a more industrial orientated sound, as in "Transmitter".

Peter-Jan Van Damme ("Darker Than The Bat")


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