CD (ltd. 333)
"No One's Lullabies" is the 9th album by Reutoff, one of the best-known Russian projects on the international post-industrial scene. Over the course of one hour they will be performing their "lullabies" which won't let you sleep though... The whole panopticon of borderline mental states will unfold before the eyes of our attention. Every track is a masterfully performed decadent dance of emotions and feelings. Steady industrial rhythms, an unhasting but assertive semi-drunk waltz, circus-like grotesque with wicked medieval shades, comatose jazz swinging in dark tones and epic electronic doom that could also fit well in the repertoire of their brother-project Otzepenevshiye - all imbued with remarkable spirit and slightly inflamed imagination.
The material entitled "No One's Lullabies" was initially produced as a cassette mini-album by the German label Sea State in 2014 in a small edition of 80 copies in unconventional handmade packaging. The extended version with four additional compositions was put out by Reutoff on their bandcamp page as a web-release. Now we're glad to present the CD version of the album for the happy owners of CD-players and optical drives! The CD-edition contains an exclusive bonus track with a live version of one of Reutoff's rare compositions. The disc is packed in a matte 4-panel cardboard digisleeve, artwork features paintings by Fabrice Billard, the chef of Divine Comedy Records.
Of the handful of currently relevant Russian industrial artists, the trio of Reutoff really are the only project that comes to mind that I can admit to truly enjoying. They have managed to solidify that special Eurasian touch in their sound over the last couple of decades, and it is, of course, always nice when the unique approach of any given project can represent the place and time within which it was created to any degree of authenticity.
No One’s Lullabies—originally released in 2014 on cassette by the German Sea State imprint and later reissued in the version found here, a CD from the Russian Zhelezobeton—is, unsurprisingly, an emotionally gripping release. Immersing its audience in deep aural seas of emotions with its finely crafted melodies, No One’s Lullabies is a perfect post-industrial canvas for expressing all manner of obscure intellectual depths. This is clearly typical for industrial music albeit more often in intent rather that as an end-result, but it is a subtle elements here, pushed into the background of the mix in order to leave more space for melodic lines. Every song on the record seems to translate differently in this way, with each track developing its own distinct atmosphere, but the flow of the record is nevertheless fulfilling. So near perfection is No One’s Lullabies that while listening, one can’t help but feel that the album is a masterpiece for a project that has gone virtually unnoticed in the West for far too long now. One has to be very careful to not fall into a meditative state while listening as this album essentially begs for its audience to seek its most meaningful textures out, leaving unforgettable yet remarkably strange ambience to ring out within those closed spaces.
If one were asked to choose a color for this album, it would almost certainly be something radiant as No One’s Lullabies is dedicated to those who are waiting at the edge of the monotony of wakefulness in preparation of entering the unknown depths of dreams. Despite the aforementioned necessity to consciously explore Reutoff’s textures, I also think that their music often works beautifully as background ambience. What is there is a pulsing whole, a subdued electronic heartbeat, waiting and inviting all it encounters into a dreamworld. There is not much left to say about No One’s Lullabies; as you can likely tell, this isn’t a record for the temporal. Rather, No One’s Lullabies is the soundtrack to hazy recreations of our surroundings—that all-to-rare moment in sleep when you can’t tell whether you’re neck-deep in a bizarre experience or not. These are lullabies for a hidden world, forever on the cusp of emergence.
The third round of releases by this label from St-Petersburg in quite a short time, and this time it's three 'real' CDs, whereas normally they produce mostly CDRs. I started off with Reutoff, which I mostly know of the name, and hardly of the music. Back in Vital Weekly 656 I reviewed a collaborative work of them with Troum, but that seems to be it. Originally this album was released in an edition of 80 copies on cassette by Sea State, but Zhelezobeton liked it so much that it was granted another release, adding four more pieces. Reutoff likes some time to explore their songs; none of the nine songs lasts under six minutes and can go up to almost ten. The music is best categorized (if you need that sort of thing) as 'dark wave' or 'industrial'. Each of these pieces is held together with some forceful rhythm track that works like a sledgehammer and eerie synthesizers are played to go long, like the buzzing sound of a gas canister in a dirty warzone. There is unmistakably the element of slow techno music to be detected in here also, and I can easily imagine people dancing to this, slow moving, like ghosts on a dance floor. It's perhaps not entirely my cup of coffee, but I enjoyed it all along, doing the quarterly accounting, reading a bit; not exactly the dancing queen anway, me that is, but the music by Reutoff is designed for ears and feet I think. Maybe also a bit for depressed people, but I had no hiccups there.
If someone were to ask me, which post-industrial artist gives you the biggest pleasure when you listen to their music, I would never mention Reutoff. If somebody else were to ask me which project is in my opinion the most daring in its experiments or simply the most innovative in the scene, Reutoff wouldn’t be my pick either. But if you were to ask me about the musician who combines experimental with so-called “catchiness” the most effectively, well, I’d have to think about mentioning this Russian duo.
They’ve been active for about 18 years, releasing a variety of materials, also in collaboration with other artists in their famous Kreuzung series: a collection of names such as Deutsch Nepal, Troum or Der Blutharsch. “No One’s Lullabies” was originally released on tape, thanks to the Sea State label from Leipzig. Zhelezobeton gives us an extended edition on CD, with five additional tracks and a cover image painted by Fabrice Billard, the owner of the Divine Comedy label.
For many years Reutoff’s line of work and constructing additional sound structures has more or less been the same. They take a nicely crafted industrial background, a mid-tempo rhythm theme, often looped and encrusted with other trinkets and little diamonds, so that most of the tracks possess a slowly yet nicely building tension that leads to a culmination, abundant in sounds and atmospheres. Not all of the tracks though: Reutoff is not a project that always chooses the easy and proven ways – check this splendid dark ambient of a non-obvious feeling in “Nameless Tune With No Fate”.
This is also one of Reutoff’s huge advantages. That you can’t describe their atmosphere in one or two words. You need to build the whole story in your mind, different for each track. It may be dystopian sci-fi straight from Orwell or Bradbury novels; a dark yet epic, sometimes even strangely romantic story, similar to, say, “Blade Runner”. After all, titles like “New World Disorder” or “Requiem for Android” cannot be a coincidence. On the other hand in some track you may notice a somehow optimistic… no, not a good word – a note that breathes with hope. Saying that not everything is lost, that there are still new and mysterious worlds to explore even though our planet is lost.
I feel this modern sci-fi element is pretty solid in Reutoff’s works, which is even more interesting considering the fact that when it comes to technical matters a strong analogue vibe emanates over the whole of “No One’s Lullabies”. This is specific for many post-industrial artists coming from Russia, that while they’re faithful to classic samplers and synths, they’re able to achieve such a fresh effect. Reutoff, Cyclotimia, Sal Solaris, some Cisfinitum efforts. This offering is no different, and once again provides us with a certificate of the uniqueness of the Russian post-industrial scene.
Background/Info: Reutoff is probably one of the most famous and renowned industrial formations from Russia. They’ve been active since the late 90s and have released an impressive number of productions. This is their 9th full length album to date. “No One’s Lullabies” was originally released on cassette format in 2014 on Sea State. Later on the band released it on digital format adding 4 extra cuts. Zhelezobeton is now releasing the entire album on CD.
Notice by the way that the artwork of the album was made by Fabrice Billard who you for sure remember as the owner of the French label Divine Comedy.
Content: Reutoff calls their music ‘post-industrial’, which clearly will appeal for the industrial music lovers. The work is driven by heavy industrial sounds and cadences mixed with dark-ambient atmospheres. From drones and bombast to crystal-like bleeps to ghostly whispers the tracks are resulting in a kind of apocalyptic vision. The lullabies of Reutoff rapidly become the source of real nightmares, which will terrorize you.
But next to this heavy industrial terror and some nihilistic soundscapes the work also reveals surprising and unexpected influences like a kind of jazzy ambient passage and psychedelic elements. It’s just one little element, but it reveals the versatile character of the work.
+ + + : I like the versatile aspect of the work, however it all remains pretty compact. The composition has been extremely worked out and even features a real transcendental climax, which is one of the ‘new’ cuts, entitled “Die Stille Scheint In Der Finsternis”. There’s a perfect fusion between all of the influences.
- - - : Reutoff is not exactly what I should call an average, or stereotypical industrial formation. It makes the originality of the formation, but still a reason why industrial ‘purists’ may have difficulties to be convinced by their versatile sound.
Conclusion: The original cassette version was released on 80 copies so it should have been a shame to keep this album completely underground. Together with the extra tracks, this is a great piece of modern industrial music.
Best songs: “Die Stille Scheint In Der Finsternis”, “Dead Templar’s Groove Manuscript”, “New World Disorder”.