Notice: This is a Pre-Order and will ship before it's release date of November 10, 2023.
In writing about Igor Yalivec’s music it’s important to get the big thing out in the open right away. Igor Yalivec is a Dnipro, Ukraine based artist who at the time of this writing is currently living there, recording music, taking field recordings and generally existing as his country is under a pall of unease punctuated with moments of terror. It is under these circumstances where Etudes seems as vital a document as anything coming out of war-torn Ukraine, but also an argument for the utility and importance of ambient music existing as a genre and processing tool.
It’s extremely easy to be cynical about ambient music in 2023. From AI generated soundscapes to heralded genre pioneers reality-shattering magnum-opuses being sought out as a Tech Bro panaceas for 2pm late stage capitalism malaise. Do we need a Laaraji break while engineering the breakdown of public and private space? Type “ambient” into a spotify search bar and you’ll come up with thousands of playlists designed to keep you glued to your computer. A “focus” playlist of anodyne, major key compositions. A “flow” playlist of field recordings and tinkling bells. No matter what you call it, it spells “productivity” for shareholders.
Perhaps it’s something like an objectively beautiful ambient record coming from a place of constant tension and unease to remind us of the positive aspects of the utilitarian process of creating and consuming ambient music. The reminder that the outputs are often miles away from the input. Sine waves put through the complex circuitry of modular synthesis can come out the other side as an oceanic wave of drone or blood-slowing pointillist melody. Etudes has those in spades. Created as a tool to “find peace”, the 8 tracks that make up Igor Yalivec’s second album achieve just that. The ascending chords on “Melancholia” travel through an alchemical process, a climb through the nightside tree of life until they come out the other side a radial band of shimmering light. The rotational chord changes and dulcet melodies on “Awakening” sound particularly inviting, creating an etheric body of tonal clusters that hum, flash and awaken – blooming before dying in a psychodramatic recreation of life, death and resurrection.
Etudes is Yalivec’s sophomore album. His 2021 album Still Life came out on Polar Seas Recordings and has long since been sold out. Yalivec’s more esoteric electroacoustic project with guitarist Sergey Yagoda is called Gamardah Fungus and exorcizes a more cosmic and heavier consciousness. Etudes is remarkable in it’s ability to walk a middle path between the overtly melodic and arpeggiated Still Life and the heavy duty experimentalism of Gamardah Fungus.
An etude, in musical language, is generally a short exercise designed to improve the player’s skill. The skill, it seems, that Yalivec is improving here is his ability to see clearly. Not ahead into some unknown future, but to see clearly into the present – a present, that on good days, is full of the chirping birds and prairies alive in some kind of eternal autumn afternoon that are full of life. And perhaps, no matter what happens, there will be artists like Igor Yalivec – capturing those moments and stretching them into eternity.
Releases November 10, 2023All tracks by Igor Yalivec in Dnipro, Ukraine
Mastered by Stephen Mathieu, Germany
Whited Sepulchre Records 2023