Living in deep Russian Siberia, in his teens, even prior to his start in electronic music, Alexander Obukhov
practiced DJ’ing at local school events. He studied hardware skills assembling FM-transmitters, LF PA’s,
tape players and various makeshift stage-light hardware. He also crafted some acoustic guitars and
electric pick-ups for them as well. In 1992 Alex discovered that he had an interest in Electronic Music and
as an artist was inspired by Luna 44 (Moon 44). This was easily the most notable Russian radio-broadcast
dedicated to instrumental and electronic music from outside the Russian borders at the time. Back in the
early 1990s Luna 44 turned out to become a real breach in the collapsing Iron Curtain; a breach allowing
people to take a look at the world around, through the prism of worldwide electronic music. Surely you
know that feeling when the sound-worlds of Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and other American and
European artists drastically change your views on the Art and Music? This was the case with Alex. |
- Blue Cyclone [10:08]
- Place for you [15:45]
- Dreamsequences [16:51]
- Luftrum [9:57]
- To catch up the star [15:02]
- Polaroid concert [10:55]
Being heavily influenced with Berlin-school sounds, Alex did his first musical experiments using his
self-built synthesizers, LF-generators and drum-machine. These instruments were made of spare parts
collected at local scrap-heaps. His first home-studio album entitled “Warning” appeared in 1994. In the
course of the next two years, 1995-1996, he kept up his bedroom electronic explorations using Soviet
synths. These instruments were the only available hardware around at this time.
In 1997 Alexander was hired as art director, arranger and sound-engineer at a local culture center. He
also played, as a drummer, in a local instrumental band. At that time, he set up his first pro-equipped
studio for electronic music named «Hot Tape». This was active until 2011. During this period, he
composed and recorded thirty albums of his own music, from new-age experiments and ambient sounds
to Berlin school inspired music.
When «Hot Tape» was over, Alex moved to start the ObukhovAUDIO studio, to continue making electronic
music. This was mostly in the Berlin-school direction. Berlin-school sequencing is the lodestar that
inspires him. Through continual, spontaneous, experimentation, he occasionally creates sequencing
improvisations like «Polaroid Concert». This was the title-track that was created in the studio back in 1999,
in just one take, inspired by classic 70’s Tangerine Dream. The more up-tempo and dynamic driving tracks
he creates like, «Palace For You» reminds us of the classic moods in Klaus Schulze’s «Are You Sequenced?».
Today, Alexander Obukhov lives amidst mounds of endless woods, in the snow-laden landscapes of vast
Siberia. He continues to compose and record his electronic music in the ObukhovAUDIO studio.
Berlin-school style music and vintage sound-traditions of the pioneers of electronic sequencing remain his
main inspiration and the preferable creative direction for the foreseeable future.
The least that can be said, is that Ron Boots widens the horizons of his label by raking broad and by proposing new artists, who bring new visions, to his hive of EM. Alexander Obukhov is one of his latest discoveries who comes from Russia with a huge baggage of musical experience and numerous albums made in the lands of Vladimir. AO became interested in EM in the early 90's. He then started creating synthesizers and other EM instruments before starting to record his music. His career, whose headlines are available on Groove, is as surprising as interesting and leads him to become a high-character in the fields of music and to a reputation that remains well locked in the former USSR. Despite this fact, it's the first time that my ears meet his music. POLAROID CONCERT is the fruit of a long night of improvisation which lies down on the 78 minutes of this first CD on Groove. And what exactly to think? Well it's a viral dance album. It's a lot l ike Vanderson when the latter traded his Berlin School clothes for his dance and trance rhythms. POLAROID CONCERT is a furious album where Element 4's dance music bangs in our ears with lots of essences by Jean-Michel Jarre (Luftrum) and science fiction stories told by a creative and melodious synth. Techno rhythms of Moonbooter and trance of Vanderson are in every corner of this album where some observers hear influences from Klaus Schulze. Possible, but not that much! Maybe on To Catch up the Star. But for the rest, Jean-Michel Jarre and this horde of DJs who flooded the market at the end of the 90's (Autechre, FSOL, Leftfield, Aphex Twin, etc…) remain the most felt influences on this long Mass of EM where the phases of tranquility between the swirling rhythms are as rare as they are welcome.
Blue Cyclone captures us in its whirlwind with a first line of sequences which goes up and down in a circular pattern. Very early, barely before a full turn of this rhythm line, other lin es are gathering, including one very heavy, in a tornado of frenzied sequences. Keyboard riffs begin to flutter all around, while the synth goes in cantata mode for lullaby for Martians. Percussions join, adding even more weight to this rhythmic cyclone which has become a rhythmic base for synth solos whirling in the contours of this eyeless tornado. We have a powerful 9 minutes of rhythm here which barely decreases its rage before dissolving into nothingness. A short respite of a few seconds before the thunderous introduction of Place for You draws us into a frenzied Techno that sparkles in every pore of our ears. Synth pads are struggling to convert this boom-boom-tsitt-tsiit into soaring music. But the Russian DJ has other plans in mind! The opening goes furiously in the same direction for a big 7 minutes before turning a little to the right with a movement modified by its approach of arcade games which nevertheless retains its boom-booms. An organic dialect gets in this trance w ithout borders which is always coated with flying shadows of the synth. Shadows replaced by orchestrations around the 10 minutes, giving a false feeling of dullness to Place for You. One can imagine in this place ghosts which waltz and twirl with an air of sorrow in the gestures. A soft creative madness brought back to order when percussion and percussive effects collapse to wear this frenzied title until it runs out. Or, its final!
After this frenzied 16 minutes, Dreamsequences comes to us with a heavy and pugnacious flow which is right because of its opening, however promoting a quieter vision. It's on this track that the influences of Tangerine Dream are most felt with fluty chants that move towards an almost New Age phase, around the 8 minutes, and which fly over a fauna of gurgling and a static flow always on the edge of the explosion. This is what happens around the 11th minute when a solid influence of Aphex Twin and Autechre eat our eardrums until this small space withou t sounds of 2 or 3 seconds makes flow the waves of serenity which open the solid Luftrum. This POLAROID CONCERT gem flows with another fiery flow which is well wrapped in anesthetic layers. The strong presence of these Stradivarius layers counterbalances this cosmic Techno where the phantom harmonies and percussive effects inspired by Jean-Michel Jarre add a dimension of science fiction to this hymn of collective trance which passed too quickly in my ears. To Catch up the Star is just like its title's meaning! The violins in its opening are enchanting. My ears sniff the miraculous years of Software in Electronic-Universe II. They rock us and transport us to a discotheque where a creative DJ shapes a spasmodic rhythm line. The jinglings vibrate, like metallic wings of hummingbirds, while the bass crawls with ferocity in order to bring out these devastating boom-boom-clink-clink on the sails of violins and in a disco-dance ambience of the 70's. The knocks collide, and I hear clamors p ushing people to dance with their feet hungry for pain, while the rhythm barely moves and retains its convulsive form in a sweat oven. Quietly, To Catch up the Star begins to drift (yes-yes) into a cosmos that looks like a huge layer of magma rendering its past sterile. Phew! And it's a man with stunned and deaf ears who went to the end of POLAROID CONCERT and of its title-track which swirls endlessly. As long as the synths sound muted in this setting where the term infernal surpasses what seems to be a lullaby in the universe of Alexander Obukhov. For lovers of dance and trance, it's probably 78 minutes of pure happiness!
2020. Sylvain Lupari / Canada