Exit in Grey
CD (ltd. 300)
Exit in Grey is one of the main musical incarnations of Sergey [S] from Moscow-area town Pushkino, who is also known for many other projects including Five Elements Music, Sister Loolomie and labels Still*Sleep and Semperflorens. Starting from 2004 Exit In Grey has released over a dozen of albums on CD-Rs and cassettes, mainly on his own label Daphnia Recordsand also on such labels as Mystery Sea, Abgurd and YAOP. His first factory-pressed CD "Perception" came out last year while "Shadows of Stillness" becomes the second album released in this format.
Exit In Grey has quickly developed it's own recognizable style - very calm, a bit melancholic drone ambient with gentle melodies and rugged textures made of found sounds. Four compositions of "Shadows of Stillness" follow the same path: harmonious currents of droning guitars and reed organ are framed by slow waves of resonances dissolving into each other, signals and loops crafted from field recordings, sounds of a Polyvox synthesizer and very long frequency radiowaves from the Earth's atmosphere and space bodies.
The album is dedicated to the beauty and grandeur of Stillness which we can so rarely notice in our everyday bustle...
Something which I perhaps understand much better, is the music of Sergey, who calls himself [S] most of the times and who works also as Five Elements Music and Sister Loolomie, whole running labels as Still*Sleep and Semper Florens. Since 2004 he is also working as Exit In Grey, and has released a whole bunch of cassettes and CDRs, and 'Shadows Of Stillness' is his second CD release. The differences between his various projects are small, I think. Sister Loolomie is at the harsher end of drone music, but between Five Elements Music and Exit In Grey the differences seem quite small. Both of these projects deal with highly atmospheric music and the difference might be that Five Elements Music is a bit more abstract and Exit in Grey is a bit more melodic. Maybe! [S] uses guitars, effects, harmonium, Polyvox, field recordings, VLF radiowaves of Earth atmosphere and space bodies. Four pieces, somewhere between ten and fourteen minutes, of these dense atmospherics. Dark perhaps, but as dark as Sal Solaris or Bardoseneticcube does get, and there is always an element of melody in this music. Sometimes perhaps a bit buried in the drones, but sometimes more upfront. That adds a nice texture of light to the music. Light shimmering in the morning, carefully popping its head around the world. You see night becoming day. That is what I feel with this music. Nothing here that you haven't heard before of course; Mirror is something that comes quite close to this, or Aidan Baker, but so many others may count a s well. Exit In Grey stands in a long tradition of drone based music, but is sufficiently 'unique' to stand out, finding his own voice. Now here's someone who should be as big as Baker, Troum or Mirror, I'd say.
The music of Rusian Exit in Grey goes style-wise very close to a current label mate, Mira Drevo. It is melancholic soundscape, with slow melodic arcs and some small brightness here and there. The difference is that Shadows of Stillness at no point really rises above its base level, to become really intriguing. It is in a sense very beautiful, and one cannot point to any fault in it, but at the core it is just background music, not an attention-captivating ambient album. Nevertheless, there is no denying its merits. The shades are good, the sound of both instruments and other elements has a nice fullness to it (excluding one annoying sound that resembles a phone on hold), and the flow of the soundscape is softly gloomy yet not without a sense of hope.
A beautiful album, but does not offer anything special, at least not to a widely experienced listener of ambient.
If there's a key that opens Exit in Grey's Shadows of Stillness, it can be found in the short note Sergey (or [S] as the Russian producer is also known) has seen fit to include on the forty-seven-minute album's inner sleeve, which reads in part: “These tracks are … a kind of reaction to the psychological environments surrounding me. The feeling of futility against all-consuming time while attempting to realize oneself socially and creatively. The bustle of the constantly Acting and Sounding as opposed to the serenity and permanence of Stillness.” Given that somewhat despairing statement, it's perfectly understandable that some degree of turbulence and turmoil would find their way into the album's four ambient-drone settings. Peacefulness might be intimated by one part of the title Shadows of Stillness, but it would be wrong to overlook the shadowy side of the equation.
Certainly the storm rippling through the opening piece, “The Sunset Dust in our Hands,” brings with it no small degree of gloom, and the industrial machine noise that surfaces two-thirds of the way through the fifteen-minute setting does little to make the mood any sunnier. As we come to the finish line, however, some sense of stability and calm begins to assert itself when synthesizers assume a more dominant role and the field recording elements recede from view. “Shadows” envelops the listener in an opaque shroud of shuddering haze and wave-like resonances, while “Speaking with Silence,” if anything, plunges the listener into an even murkier ambient-drone realm, one so murky, in fact, that the material begins to resemble Popul Vuh in a particularly psychedelic frame of mind. Of the four tracks, “So Beautiful and Quiet Place” is undoubtedly the most bucolic in tone, and the fact that Sergey has elected to position it last suggests that one should exit the album with some feeling of hope.
Shadows of Stillness isn't by any stretch the debut outing from Exit In Grey, which once included two members—Stas and Sergey, aka (S) and [S]—but which is now Sergey only. Established in 2004, the group is credited with having released over a dozen albums (mostly on CD-R and cassette) on labels such as Daphnia Records, Mystery Sea, Abgurd, and YAOP. Sergey created the latest material using guitars, harmonium, a Polyvox synthesizer, and field recordings (including long frequency radio waves of the Earth's atmosphere and space bodies). There's a rugged and raw quality to Exit In Grey's material that puts a healthy degree of distance between it and the more pastoral style of ambient, but, for what it's worth, a little bit of disturbance is never unwelcome in these parts.
This strange album was playing all day long now, mixing together abstract ideas about bleak dystopian nightmares, which were somehow connected to a beautiful serenity. I am now staring at the packaging of this album, for over 10 minutes now, as time seems to move slower and slower while immersing yourself in this world, and I find the artwork symbolically fitting to what I am listening to. Like what I see with my eyes, the music I am listening to does relate, aesthetically, to this calm, endless field, that for a moment seems burnt down, only to look fresh again immediately. I can also hear the constant static disruption of a lonely electric pole. This beautiful broadcast that is called ‘Shadows of Stillness’ is sent to space, oblivious to the possibility or chance of someone ever hearing it.
‘Shadows of Stillness’ was recorded using Guitars and effects, Harmonium, Polyvox, various field recordings and the translation of VLF radiowaves of the atmosphere and of other Stellar bodies. Through this combination of the micro sounds and the macro, the persistent drone sounds manage to celebrate as well as to lament, as The artist behind them, Segey, who works under the name ‘Exit in Grey’, stands naked against the all consuming, ever hungry cosmos. It’s a brave act, and a rewarding challenge in humility, as the artist maneuvers these majestic sounds into a titanic sphere of independent intelligence, making it easy and tempting for the listeners to get lost inside, as if they had any other option against this great absorber.
Exit in Grey is the work of Moscow-area artist Sergey [S], who also records under the names Five Elements Music and Sister Loolomie; he also runs the Still*Sleep and Semperflorens labels. I was unfamiliar with Exit in Grey, but Muzyka Voln has distinguished itself by putting out top quality dark ambient, so I was interested to see what Sergey had to offer. We kick off with 'The Sunset Dust in our Hands,' which is really complex dark ambient with lots of field recordings woven into the mix. Disembodied voices struggle to make themselves heard over the slow, mournful melodies and washes of drone. This is well done with a nice mix of noise and atmosphere. Next up we have 'Shadows,' which at times reminded me of the instrumental portions of Pink Floyd's 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' - shimmering drone over synth melody. 'Speaking with Silence' takes a mellow turn with a sense of repetitive rhythm throughout, as if you are listening to the EKG of the song. This is kind of peaceful. 'So Beautiful and Quiet Place' brings us right back where we started from with field recordings and melody. Every once in a while I get an album that is just brilliant, and this is one of them. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes and limited to 300 copies. Get this one.
Exit In Grey is a Russian drone duo consisting of two men named Stas and Sergei. Now, I will start off by saying, as always, that it's hard to create good drone music, as the lack of sounds doesn't allow for a whole lot of creativity. With the one main lead synth composing most of the song with few background sounds, it's a bitch to create music within this genre.
And, these two men have crafted four tracks lasting anywhere between nine to fourteen minutes. The Sunset Dust In Our Hands starts off the album. Of course, you get the main synth lead, with what sounds liike a carriage making its way to a village right beneath it. Echoes of wind pulse in the song along with a somewhat ritual like vibe. The lead synth fades as the song goes by, and is replaced with more light sounds. It dies down an almost nothingness before slowly coming back with a soft lead. Though I liked this song, it was hard to get by due to it dragging on for far too long without much to change it.
The second song was really hard to get through, as there weren't many effects to help move it along aside from an echo, and each lead lasted too long for the lack of material found within it. I guess I could say the same about the third song; while nice and pleasant to the ears, and also relaxing, it was just boring all at the same time.
However, the fourth and final song, So Beautiful And Quiet Place, was awesome. The nature effects allowed a peaceful setting, the birds chirping just added onto the placating sound, and the wind that brushed through my headphones was stellar.
And that's where the album ended off. I did enjoy this, however, there were a lot of long and undigested parts for me too really want to come back and listen to this again. If they could follow the path of So Beautiful And Quiet Place more often, I'm sure there will be a blissful album to come from these fine gentlemen.
In his liner notes, Sergey, known as [S] and residing in the Moscow area, explains Shadows of Stillness as an act in defiance of “all-consuming time” by trying to express and realize oneself socially and creatively. [S] is Exit in Grey (also Five Elements Music and Sister Loolomie) and lists guitars, effects, harmonium, Polyvox, field recordings, and “VLF radiowaves of Earth atmosphere and space bodies” as his instruments.
The beauty of his desolate drone is in the discreet, enswathed detail. A hot wind squalls across denuded, contaminated ground on “The Sunset Dust in Our Hands.” Struggling to be heard above its roar is nascent melody, the lone voice facing up to implacable elements. “Shadows” creep across a similarly desolate but less tormented landscape, one across which a lone guitar echoes, intensely searching for a listener.
“Speaking with Silence” sounds like the whistling of dolphins in a peaceful harmonium lagoon while “So Beautiful and Quiet Place” is an aviary in colored air. Exit in Grey provides us four stunning portraits of stillness, before they are softly blown away by solar winds, like sand paintings.
At this album's core is a duality of gloomy exasperation and despair on one hand and a universal, meditative sense of calm on the other. Both of these emotional states co-habitate in a slow crawl of suspended drone construction and dappled shortwave radio reception from detuned military transmissions as well as the ethereal crackle of a VLF receiver. The initial gasps from Shadows Of Stillness spill from a claustrophobic synth tone, whose desolate, chemical transmission is accentuated with low-frequency rumblings and bone-creaking textures that wouldn't be out of place on a Sleep Research Facility or Lustmord recording. About halfway through "Speaking With Silence" the nocturnal mood lifts with a golden set of melodic ambient phrases akin to Popul Vuh's classic psychedelic instrumentals and a chipper satellite beacon signaling back to earth that all is well up in the heavens and we need not worry so much about our plight down here on this rock. The album's finale reprises this radiant shimmer as if all of the sounds were the sunblinding reflections of a midnight sun cast upon the placid waters of the Arctic Ocean north of St. Petersberg. Cold yet beautiful.