CosmoTengri by Angelina Yershova

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Angelina Yershova | CosmoTengri
Twin Paradox Records (CD/DL)

One thing is for sure, our planet needs all the help it can get, and any record that puts this forward gets my attention. Here is CosmoTengri the new disc by Kazakh composer Angelina Yershova (dedicated to Bakhtiyar Amanzho) out on Roman imprint Twin Paradox. Issues such as deforestation and sustainability are global concerns, and let’s dive into the way in which she addresses this delicate socio-eco-political topic.

The gentle cascade of a stream is paired with stringed abstraction at first, and the mood slowly curdles as it evolves on Korgau. As you can see in the above video compatriot and environmental activist Saltanat Tashimova is found amongst the trees of a mountain plateau in the Ile-Alatau State National Park. The piece opens up with a stirring tension like a heartbeat off its cycle. Voices and suspenseful cadences quiver as a rustling drone withers into a disembodied harmony.

Angelina Yershova 1 by Saltanat Tashimova

The ethereal mood is interrupted by the inner whispers and rising tones of Tumbleweed. The composer changes the channel to something a bit more rhythmical that flies between gorgeous undulating stringed melodies and a pulse of funky techno rounded jitter. After the opening, this was a bit of a surprise, but given the density of the work I’ve been exposed to of late, it is completely refreshing to hear something emerge by breaking genre-based expectations for something contemporary and fresh. There are other hushed voices and flecks of funk built-in throughout but where this all seems to merge ever-so-nicely with a hand of restraint, but not too much so, is on Jelsiz Jel. The track has this sense of tone-float that vibrates from a center and sends these broad tendrils of postmodern dance music outward (think Atom™ or even latter day A Certain Ratio).

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The title track dips back into a predominately moody bent of textural drones that ride like night time waves. Construed within this track, methodically or subliminally, are bits from traditional Middle Eastern themes (listen for the delicate wavering strings) as well as a touch of the industrial burring that rises and fades and circulates. Yershova seems like a passionate sound sculptor, in her next piece the odd pairing of throat singing v. flying saucers seems an exuberant choice but somehow this manages to not only pay off, but offer her more transcendent side featuring a more excerpted meditative sense of stasis. Khan Tengri, as such, is by far my favorite piece here, its pure body music, inducing mental flux and pushing the ‘refresh‘ button. My only issue is this is the shortest piece on the record – and I can only imagine an entire hour-long work with this as its core.

Finally her Ecstatic Dance begins the conclusion of CosmoTengri. It’s like mixing some of the outlandish soundtrack work by artist Mike Kelley with the more fleeting esoteric tribal ambient techno of Chris & Cosey – with the added circumstances (and eccentricities) etched from her roots in landlocked Kazakhstan. This chugs with a revved beat all its own. If you are looking to get lost get on this train — wow, just wow!

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