August 6, 2023

Hard rock and heavy metal fans kindly move along as there is nothing to see here! What we have here is a quite remarkable album featuring five Soviet musicians performing experimental electronic music utilising the ANS synthesizer with all the material having been recorded in the 1960s and early 1970s. This is the first time that the music has been made a available outside Russia having been previously only available on a 1990 record that was put out on the state-run (what else?) Melodiya label.

The album features six tracks from five artists in Eduard Artemiev, Oleg Buloshkin, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina and Alfred Schnittke and they have all produced an intriguing set of ‘songs’ utilising the ANS synthesizer, which is a photoelectronic musical instrument that was created by the Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin. He is a true pioneer who worked on the concept from the late 1930s until the late 1950s when the musical instrument was finally born, and I’ll not go into the detail behind the machine itself but it makes fascinating reading and is all easily found on the internet. However, a snippet from the accompanying information gives an indication of the complexity involved by advising that ‘the ANS houses five rotating glass discs with 144 tones hand printed individually by Murzin on each. Light is projected through the discs onto a photovoltaic cellbank that converts the light into electricity and sends signals to the ANS’s amplifiers and bandpass filters. Fully polyphonic, it can generate all 720 tones this way and – unlike a human musician – play them all simultaneously’. There are indeed true giants that walk the earth!

In truth, this means that there are no prizes for guessing that this is 43-minutes of complex and challenging electronic soundscapes very similar to what the BBC was doing with the pioneering Radiophonic Workshops, through talented artists like Delia Derbyshire and team, and if you have ever watched an episode of Dr. Who then you will have some sort of flavour of what is on offer here although there are no real tunes to hang onto. Indeed, without these pioneering musicians then I guess it would have been so much more difficult for the likes of Amon Düül, Tangerine Dream, Can, Guru Guru and even Kraftwerk to have made such an impact and create the beautiful sonic soundscapes that they have gifted to us all. The real beauty of experimental electronic musings is that the music always sounds so pioneering, futuristic and innovative and these 50-year-old recordings still sound as fresh and contemporary today as they would have when they were first recorded.

The reality is that if you are not interested in electro daydreaming reflections then this will most probably not be for you, but if you are into artists such as TD, Kraftwerk, Ian Boddy, Coil and just about any other electronic or experimental band you can think of then this is ground zero and should be revered as such. Quite simply, we are in the presence of pure genius.

Музыкальное Приношение (Musical Offering)

  1. Oleg Buloshkin – Sacrament (3:32)
  2. Sofia Gubaidulina – Vivente-Non Vivente (Alive And Dead) (10:44)
  3. Eduard Artemiev – Mosaic (4:05)
  4. Eduard Artemiev – Twelve Looks At The World Of Sound (12:53)
  5. Edison Denisov – Birds Singing (5:04)
  6. Alfred Schnittke – Stream (5:57)

Музыкальное Приношение (Musical Offering) is available to purchase now via Cold Spring and digitally via Bandcamp