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Ilia Belorukov / Kurt Liedwart
MIKROTON CD 25 | 2013

Edition of 300.



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1. Antra
2. Teine
3. Ikkemesh
4. Otrais

Ilia Belorukov prepared alto saxophone, iPod with mini speaker, contact mic with mini amplifier, motors, objects
Kurt Liedwart ppooll, objects, field recordings

The first Mikroton release featuring Russian musicians Ilia Belorukov, a saxophonist from Saint-Petersburg, and Kurt Liedwart, an electronic and computer musician from Moscow who also runs the label. It’s their second longplaying work following Obwod which was released on Copy For Your Records. On the new CD the duo goes even further into the realm of unknown contriving to work with silence, space and chance with their traditional means like sinewaves and saxophone’s long tones. Saxophone preparations went into the background now and Ilia focuses on working with the saxophone’s surface using contact microphones which he feeds into a guitar mini-amp. At the same time Liedwart actively uses field recordings which he unexpectedly intertwines into the music texture. The duo offers its listeners to witness the investigation of saxophone’s new possibilities and synthesizer capabilities of ppooll. Eventually the duo finds itself not only in the field of contemporary improvised music but it also employs the means of Wandelweiser composers and noise music.


Improv Sphere, Julien Héraud:
Kurt Liedwart est un musicien russe principalement connu pour ses activités de producteur, car il dirige le label mikroton. Cette fois, sur son propre label, on le retrouve aux côtés du jeune saxophoniste de Saint-Petesbourg Ilia Belorukov aux saxophone préparé, moteurs, micro-contacts, ipod & objets, tandis que Liedwart est crédité aux “ppooll” (je ne sais pas si c’est un clin d’oeil à Kurzmann, ou s’il utilise le même instrument/logiciel – mais en tout cas, on n’a pas vraiment l’impression d’entendre le même outil…), objets et field-recordings. Si la discographie de Liedwart est encore bien discrète, Belorukov sort de plus en plus de disques, des projets variés dont la qualité devient de plus en plus évidente (je pense ici à son récent solo ainsi qu’à l’excellent cinquième volume de son projet Wozzeck).
Avec ce duo (dont un autre disque est sorti presque simultanément sur copy for my records), le talent de Belorukov se confirme encore dans un autre domaine, alors que celui de Liedwart s’affirme. Les deux musiciens russes évoluent sur un territoire abstrait et plutôt calme. Il s’agit d’un continuum de longs sons tenus, de field-recordings discrets, de longues harmoniques de saxo, le tout agrémenté parfois d’objets et de bruits divers, avec une place non négligeable également accordée au silence. Je pense qu’il s’agit d’improvisation sur les quatre pièces présentées ici, Liedwart & Belorukov explorent un territoire nouveau d’électroniques abstraites et silencieuses, lo-fi et mystérieuses – à l’image de certains américains (R. Kammerman, A. Guthrie, Coppice) ou coréens.
La musique de Liedwart & Belorukov se déplace sur un terrain glissant entre la musique instrumentale, l’installation sonore (avec l’utilisation de mini-amplis et de mini-speakers), l’électronique et le field-recordings. Toutes sortes d’ojets et d’ustensiles sont manipulés et utilisés durant ces pièces, mais on ne sait jamais vraiment tout à fait qui fait quoi ou comment, malgré les différences pourtant flagrantes entre les sources. Car chaque outil est utilisé pour en tirer un matériau des plus abstraits, des plus abrasifs aussi, tout en restant à des volumes généralement faibles voire très faibles. Que ce soit un saxophone ou des enregistrements, tout est ramené au même niveau que ces petits moteurs qui se déplacent, tout n’est que bruits qui s’accumulent pour former une suite assez narrative et continue.
Le son du duo est plutôt original, et leur approche des outils est très sensible et délicate, mais surtout, la musique est bien construite et on ne s’ennuie pas. Parfois très abstraite, la musique peut devenir plus claire et concrète à n’importe quel moment, ou l’inverse, de la même manière qu’elle peut devenir tout à fait silencieuse ou assez bruyante sans que l’on s’y attende ni que l’on s’en rende compte. La construction est précise, équilibrée, calculée et claire. Le son est créatif, saisissant et profond. Très bon travail, j’attends d’écouter la suite avec impatience.

Vital Weekly, Frans de Waard:
The final two releases are by the same people although credits differ. Ilia Belorukov plays prepared alto saxophone on both releases, but on the Mikroton release, he also plays ipod with mini speaker, contact with mini amplifier, motors and objects, and Kurt Liedwart plays ppooll on both and adds objects and field recordings to the other. Ppooll is of course lloopp spelled backwards, the software thing that is used by Fennesz (among others) a lot. The Copy Of Your Records release was recorded in a studio on 27 May 2011, while the Mikroton release is has a live piece and three studio recordings from 2012. These are the facts about these two releases. There are, perhaps, also differences. Both had some mighty careful playing of sounds and instruments, but perhaps the Mirkoton release seemed a bit more silent, or perhaps I’m deceived by the near silence of ‘Teine’? All of this is careful stuff, as said, and 90 minutes is a lot to take in at once. Of course one doesn’t have to do this and take a CD at a time. But that’s perhaps not the harsh reality of a reviewer, alas. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d take the Copy For Your Records. That one had more sustaining sounds, more drone based and perhaps the more noisy one; perhaps that was what I need after so many carefully constructed beauty?

Just Outside, Brian Olewnick:
While I enjoyed “Obwod” well enough, I was at the same time very please that “Vtoroi”, a live recording, is substantially different. Not that you couldn’t guess the same perpetrators are involved, but the palette has been widened a decent amount, allowing for sharper, more irregular elements to enter that steady tone-stream. It’s still quiet (though there are a couple of moments of rambunctiousness) but sections have become a bit more fragmented, calving into shards that float alongside the longer, underlying lines as well as falling off into periods of near silence. Toward the end of the third track, “Ikkemesh”, thanks shatter completely into a welter of fractured field recordings and electronics. While, when all is said and done, I may prefer their quieter side, I’m pleased to hear the willingness to venture elsewhere.
A good pairing, I think–curious to hear where they go from here.

freiStil, Andreas Fellinger:
Zeit für den Mann mit dem sehr deutschen Namen (Liedwart!), den CD-Designer und Produzenten als Musiker. Im Zusammenspiel von Ilia Belorukov & Kurt Liedwart kommt auf vtoroi, mitgeschnitten in St. Petersburg, ein ganzes Arsenal an Materialien und Instrumenten zum Einsatz. Belorukow macht sich ein präpariertes Saxofon ebenso zugute wie diverse Mikrofone, Motoren, Lautsprecher, Verstärker und Objekte; Liedwart verwendet dieselbe Computersoftware wie Christof Kurzmann (ppooll), field recordings und divere Objekte vervollständigen seine Ausdruckshilfsmittel. Es zirpt und brutzelt in abstrahierter Leidenschaft. Reduziert, präzise, ganz bei der Sache. Es erhärtet sich der Verdacht, dass hier ausnahmsweise heißer gegessen wird als gekocht.

Squid's Ear, Jeph Jerman:
Live recordings by this Russian pair: Belorukov on prepared alto sax, iPod with mini speaker, contact mic and amplifier, motors and objects, and Liedwart using ppooll, objects and field recordings. Though new to me, they’ve been around since 2009 and have played many festivals and live shows as a pair or in combination with other musicians. The recorded evidence is rather scant currently, but judging by the careful work offered here, that may soon change.
The stated focus of their work according to Belorukov’s blog is “research of structural and microstructural sound organization”, which translates here as much focus on detail and layering. Several sound sources are often employed, with each slowly developing over time, independently of its companions. Whereas some groups use of field recordings makes them sound tacked on, the sonics here are often of a piece, meaning that even though you may be hearing a sine tone/sax tone/scraping metal/field recording of dump trucks juxtaposition, the sounds seem to fit together, nothing sounds out-of-place or brought in from somewhere else. Long periods of extreme minimalism serve to partition the more “lively” goings on, somewhat in the manner of room dividers or the spaces between paintings in a gallery. At times they switch to a pointillist approach, with sparse breaths and hisses separated by quiet room tone. For a live recording there are amazingly few outside sounds or interruptions.
All the usual things one could say about this kind of improvising: indefinite sound sources, careful listening, tension and surprise, are apparent again here, and even though this type of playing is becoming more and more prevalent, I am all the more glad for it.

The Sound Projector, Ed Pinsent:
On Vtoroi (MIKROTON CD 25), we have the team-up of two Russian heavyweights – the most estimable Ilia Belorukov, and Kurt Liedwart, who is in fact Vlad Kudryavstev and the owner of Mikroton Records who released this sulky brooder of contemporary improvisation. On these 2012 sessions, Belorukov is playing a prepared saxophone, an iPod, contact mics and objects – in short, the sort of setup I used to associate with the “EAI” school of improvisers; at any rate I recall that Günter Müller frequently used an iPod as part of his live processing. Liedwart brings his field recordings and objects to the table, along with ppooll, a program which appears to be some sort of networking bridge that works with certain implementations of Max/MSP. The majority of this record is a bit too under-eventful for me on today’s spin, particularly the long track ‘Ikkemesh’ with its hissing, beeping, and long periods of uncertain rustling and clunking, but I’m very taken with ‘Antra’, which is a nice extended slab of grumbly white noise mixed up with other scuzzy layers, and containing just the right amount of semi-musical content to keep it interesting. It gives off a mood of existential futility. The duo sustain this taut position for over ten minutes, as if performing painful physical exercise, and probably gazing into the mirror with blank expressions the while. Kurt also did the cover art, showing some Stephen O’Malley influence in overlaying a found photograph with geometric shapes. From 6th November 2013.