Out of Body
Belarusian producer Dmitry Stepnov’s work as EFF DST continues to draw from numerous different schools on his second LP for Hymen Records, Out of Body. Perhaps most obviously, the sound of the record fits squarely into the classic technoid style, using industrialized rhythms and sound design in conjunction with IDM structures and ideas. It’s well-trodden ground, but Stepnov proves adept at it, working a gradually evolving mechanical rhythm loop through big, breathy textures on “Punch Header”, and firing off tweaky synth sequences on “Silent Reflections” before a breezy melody takes the spotlight. There are also hints of breaksy soundtrack-ready work pioneered by classic Hymen act Beefcake on “Blind Faith” where synth-strings duck and dodge between complex percussion programming, on the dubby “First Sight”, and on the crunchy kicks and snares of the otherwise smooth “Ripped Rise”. Hints of of Stepnov’s work with Alfa Matrix signees Diffuzion are in the mix as well, with “Smash Them All” employing sequences and pads that could easily port over to electro-industrial. It’s all reasonably well-executed stuff in terms of production and atmosphere, and the record really benefits from just how easy to listen to it is. While Out of Body doesn’t have many moments that truly jump out at the listener, it finds a subtle and pleasingly listenable groove early on sticks with it.
Sevastopol’s Evgen Syprun pitches his Nova Guardia project as an “analog sound only” hybrid of coldwave, darkwave, and industrial. Each of those sounds (along with a healthy helping of minimal synth) are certainly present on the brisk and brief four tracks which make up his debut EP, but a sense of tension and anxiety is really what Mirror connotes rather than specific genres. Stripped down and plainly executed, each of the tunes are made up of clean and clear synths whose waveforms are practically visible as the EP ticks by, oscillating in stark red, orange, or black tones. They’re set against minimal and clicking percussion, but a more intriguing rhythmic wildcard is introduced in the vocal samples (and some original vocals) Syprun works in between the drums and synths. Rather than repeating a particular phrase over and over, Syprun’s opted for lengthier monologues and speeches in a variety of languages. They seem to play out chronologically (as far as can be determined from the outside), but are spaced out so words often start just at the beginning, or finish at the end of, individual measures. Incidental rhythms are thus ferreted out of speech which doesn’t seem to have been delivered in a specifically rhythmic cadence, and the overall effect is often uncanny. The success of sparse synth work like this often hinges on finding original ways of wringing tension from a minimal (and by now well-established) toolkit, and Mirror nicely fits that bill.