VAlentina Goncharova’s light production provides a window into a lesser-known Soviet history of experimental music, drawing on classical electronic sounds, jazz and New Age behind the Iron Curtain. Born in 1953 in Kiev, Ukraine, Goncharova moved to Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) at the age of 16, studied classical violin and contemporary composition at the Leningrad Conservatory, but experienced ‘a revelation during a free jazz concert by the Ganelin Trio in the 1970s. Now engaged in the path of home-made and avant-garde, she became involved in the underground rock scene and then married a engineer named Igor Zubkov who built him a modified electric violin. They moved to Tallinn, Estonia, bought a reel tape recorder and started making DIY electroacoustic music, recording household items with contact mics, and according to a source, by building a drum kit from pencils.
the first volume enveloping music by Goncharova was released in 2020 on the Estonian label Shukai; the second brings together duets with the late Finnish experimental musician Pekka Airaksinen, director and instrumentalist Alexander Aksenov and Russian composer Sergey Letov. The focus is on the remarkable music they composed together, self-recorded in home jams, jazz cafes, apartments and studios in Tallinn, Riga, Helsinki and Moscow between 1987 and 1991.
Spiritual Reincarnation II with Aksenov is the star – it happens as if coming out of a dream, a vaporous dance with Goncharova’s voice spinning like a bird. Pieces with Letov play with sound as texture – drops of rain, and a conversation in which a violin pleads like a child and reeds respond softly, as if at peace. With Airaksinen, the music is playful and quirky in the three pieces of irresistibly unusual synthesizer jams. All the recordings give the impression of being listening and discussing in private. It is music made for personal enjoyment; as exploration, and this is where its magnetism lies.
Also released this month
Elsewhere, the excellent future ethnographic series Antologia de MÃºsica AtÃpica Portuguesa ends with its third volume DevocinÃ¡rio song (Discrepant), capturing the music of contemporary Portuguese artists drawing on ceremonial vocal sources used alongside drum machines and synths. Gospel and the Rake (Bisou Records) brings together unpublished works from the end GhÃ©dalia TazartÃ¨s throughout his career, with a scorching song, a bizarre collage and his distinctive and visionary vocal style, ending with a sung text by Antonin Artaud. Finally, perhaps the first album inspired by a character from the Law and Order television series. Eiko Ishibashi‘s For McCoy (Black Truffe) is not as dumb as it sounds. It is dominated by slowly unfolding soundscapes for flute, voice, electronics and saxophone, with an easy and heady jazz number for the credits.