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LP Feature/ Cisfinitum: "Devotio"

img  Tobias

The one, admittedly hear-say, story about Cisfinitum that I can't seem to forget is how Evgeny Voronovsky managed to effortlessly empty Cologne's Kulturbunker during one of his concerts by forcefully washing over his audience with wave upon wave of harmfully voluminous sonics. By the time of that concert, he had already gradually risen from the depth of the Russian underground to a veritable star of the scene, performing at Bremen's St. Peter's Cathedral in 2005 as part of Drone Record's triumphant label night. Despite the confrontational character of the Cologne event, that status never seemed in danger of collapsing, as hard-boiled spectators assembled in the ante to follow the gig from the safe side of the door. I wasn't there on that particular evening but the thought of a lonely man filling the empty innards of the Bunker with brute plates of sound and loosing himself in the monster he himself created, never left my mind.

Quite obviously, then, Voronovsky, as much as he has been sat in the academic corner of the experimental spectrum, must  be considered a 21st century shaman rather than a 20th century-style composer with a knack for acoustic extremities. He counters categorisations of his music as „drones“ with the self-defined term of „metaphysical ambient“ and his production credits stress the idea that the music was not merely recorded but also „experienced“  during the recording sessions. The point of these deliberate wordings is clear. Cisfinitum is not about planning and organisation, but about immersion and intuition. In accord with the Drone Record philosophy, it is about phenomenons we can not utter, but whose physical and psychological perceptibility marks them as just as real as any material object around us. It is about the core concepts of the label's Substantia Innominata series: The unnameable, the unspeakable, the unthinkable and the unidentifiable. In the context of „Devotio“, it is also about one of the most widely discussed and disputed concepts of humanity: Our immortality.

Strikingly, both pieces on this EP deal with bell sounds and their cleansing timbral characteristics. Side A, a seemingly infinite, yet minutely structured stretch of greyishly glowing texture, makes use of their natural pulsation in the deeper and medium range, while the more noisy and granular flipside builds fragile rhythmical patterns on the basis of pitched, ethereal colours. Voronovsky cares little for the bell as a sacral metaphor, however. Especially on the opening piece, he portrays it as a sound source embedded with a great, inherent mystery and as a musical instrument in its own right. At first, a sweet Flute melody invites the audience to listen to what is hiding behind the monumental surface of the tolling. Later, however, it becomes increasingly apparent that no additional thematic elements are needed to find a wealth of rewarding material in the multilayered sound itself. As the bells' frequencies collide, they open up windows into a deeper dimension and the all but impercetible harmonics and subsonic bass blur slowly trickle in through these wormholes.

It is all the more astounding that the music has not ended up a cluttered canvas but refined and harmonic instead. A thoughtful and meditative ambiance surrounds the piece, whose drawn-out coda, never aiming at a concrete resolution or definitive departure, establishes a minimalistic trance, like watching a candle dying down inside a pitchblack grotto. On the second track, meanwhile, it is almost as though Voronovsky were moving to the inside of the bell. Metallic resonance hovers above one's head like a corrosive cloud of anger, delayed echoes of speech and language roll in the distance, while foreground and background merge into a shifting and unstable balance.

Even in the industrial horrorscape that is the outward appearance of the B-side, a strong inner silence manifests itself over the course of the music's duration. It is almost as though Voronosky were trying to make the point that we can feel and experience immortality in many different shapes and guises and that any attempt of portraying it as representing a particular point on a continuum could never adequately describe it. With regards to this idea, „Devotio“ is just the beginning of a quest which could take a lifetime without ever being completed. Yet the undying urgency of the topic warrants this kind of insistency. And if it takes a little noise to get your point across, then so be it.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Drone Records

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