CD-R (ltd. 77)
The Northern city of Archangelsk has given the Russian ambient scene several beautiful projects and among them is certainly Ogni Videniy (Russian for "Fires of Visions"). Their previous releases came out on such labels as Vetvei and BioSonar^Labyrinth and this is already the fourth album, not counting a collab with Six Dead Bulgarians "2137" (Vetvei, 2011).
The album is dedicated to the phenomenon of emptiness in its Buddhist meaning: not as absolute "nothingness" but rather as endless potential manifestation of everything existent in the world. Unlike previous works with more ritualistic feeling, this album shows Peter A. experimenting with more abstract electronic sound. Here one finds almost complete absence of traditional singing bowls, bells and pipes - instead the space is seized by home-made analogue sound generators, processed field recordings and mysterious textures. Plangent background drones fixate the perception and the forefront is filled by gurgling, croaking and swarming microsounds creating an utterly psychoactive shroomy atmosphere inhabited by enigmatic entities.
The cover and insert for Ogni Videniy is all in Russian; I'm quoting from the press-text. Ogni Videniy hails from Archangelsk, truly a cold place on earth. He had some releases on Vetvei (see Vital Weekly 772 and 783; the latter being a collaboration with Six Dead Bulgarians). This new work is dedicated "to the phenomenon of emptiness in its Buddhist meaning: not as absolute 'nothingness' but rather as endless potential manifestation of everything existent in the world". I wasn't blown away by Ogni Videniy (which means 'Fires Of Visions' in Russian) previous work, which I thought was bit too much dabbling in the world of things 'ritualistik', but the eight pieces here are distinctly more abstract; gone are the Tibetan bowls and incoming at 'analogue sound generators, processed field recordings and mysterious textures'. Those make already an improvement, but there is still something not quite right about the music, in my opinion. In all of these pieces, Ogni Videniy plays very few sound events, which one could interpret as 'minimal'. There is a bit of rhythm, some drone like sounds and that's it. It wouldn't be 'bad' - and actually it isn't - but it should be a bit more concise. With tracks easily going up to eight minutes with not a lot of changes inside a track, I must admit I drifted away. Not by the music but thinking 'so, I know this now, what's next', which is never a good sign. Ogni Videniy surely has some interesting sounds and ideas to offer, and it sounds fine, but it should be a bit shorter or be a bit more varied, I'd think.
More than anything else, Ogni Videniy’s massive sounds offer a complicated mystery with their hollow, monumental structure. “Sounding Emptiness” might be a project aimed at musically discussing the void, but Videniy is successful in accurately describing this subject by amplifying and projecting this vision by the presentation of the contrast between emptiness and intensity. In these 62 minutes, the world grows dark indeed, heavy with the burden of massive sonic hammering. However, each of Videniy’s monumental structures contains a swarm of unsettling and surprising sounds within itself. In essence – the brilliant thing about ‘Sounding Emptiness’ is it’s hive-like structure, as long and eerie drones carry wild sonic vibrations on them.
Ogni Videniy’s sounds of emptiness are a powerful work, exploring this idea through a meditative method of slowly adding to, and intensifying this sonic experience. Listen to this album carefully and thoroughly, you will not be disappointed.
I must confess that I can name myself as a book worm; I have been always reading quite a lot trying to learn more about the world around or just for entertainment. Modern society is changing and this kind of leisure is not that common nowadays. Anyhow, I am always surprised by the amount of cultural differences that exists in this world. Even seemingly identical words and definitions can have a completely different meaning if considered by different people with a completely different background. The same is with the word "emptiness" which is always associated with a definition of "nothingness" or "the state of containing nothing". But in Buddhism the word "emptiness" (Sunyata) is a kind of phenomenon for the western culture when it equals to endless potential manifestation of everything existent in the world. Emptiness or Voidness does not mean nothingness, but rather that all things lack intrinsic reality, intrinsic objectivity, intrinsic identity or intrinsic referentiality. Lacking such static essence or substance does not make them not exist - it makes them thoroughly relative. After the Buddha, emptiness was further developed by Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka school, an early Mahayana school. Emptiness ("positively" interpreted) is also an important element of the Buddha nature literature, which played a formative role in the evolution of subsequent Mahayana doctrine and practice.
But what if you imagine that emptiness exists without any interference from human side, like some abstract meditative dwelling? What could be the shell of such an existence? Its color? Its sound? Those questions find answers in the new album of Archangelsk (Russian Federation) based artist Ogni Videniy ("Fires of Visions") that is called by very simple, but truly comprehensive name "Sounding Emptiness".
Apparently, the geographical position of this north Russian city contributes a lot to development of unique stream in industrial music and Ogni Videniy is one of the most striking representatives of the local scene. Being active for more than ten years, Peter released a decent quantity of very interesting albums binding together different traditional sound sources like bells, pipes, percussions and others, creating mysterious droning melodies combined with field recordings. I had a pleasure of listening to few of them that were released through one of my favorite labels Vetvei, but somehow, the theme of emptiness as a mental state has demanded a change in scenery and led to an almost complete change in sound as well. Notorious Moscow resident Zhelezobeton hosted this new record during 2014 to present it in an ultra-limited edition of 77 copies only, though I must admit from a learning perspective, this kind of a limitation is quite shameful for the music of such a quality.
Unlike the previous albums that were full of ritualistic elements, this one is built mostly on analogue hand-made sound processors. Different looping noises create a continuous stream of textures that reminds me of a kaleidoscope where breathtaking images are assembled by accidental parts. Those fractals of music force me to fall into a deep meditative mood. "Immersion" and "Sleeping Pads on the Bottom" have this exact atmosphere when the mind starts to disconnect from the body to reach a mode perception which is achieved through a process of intense concentration, coupled with the insight that notes more and more subtle levels of the presence and absence of disturbance. A low humming voice guides me through this process during "Sleeping Pads" track to ensure that I certainly reach this specific mode. But don't think about this material as being only a background for meditation, it has much more to offer when the music is constantly covered with different special effects, cracks , ticks and clicks, scratches, sudden noises and other morphing elements implementing quite a log of action in specific compositions like "Ashes from the Tablecloth", "Scattered Embers" or "The Pass". Peter doesn't forget about operating with field recordings as well, but their presence is less tangible until I reach "Wollo" and it seems that the whole track is recorded in some field full of blowing wind, night birds, frogs and insects and the artist only corrected it a little bit with additional soft electronic pulsations. "Sounding Emptiness" is the name of the long final track that concludes a sonic journey through microcosm of self-exploration.
I am sure that everybody has his own routine life cycle full of day job and other traditional occupations that make him turn as a squirrel in a wheel. But with no doubt, everybody has to be sure that he steps out of this wheel even for an hour each day to feel different emotions, to feel a fulfillment from existence and not only this constant routine. So, if you are in a mood for a calm and relaxing evening, this album can fit perfectly for it. Grab it before it is too late, only 77 copies are available out there.
Yellow, red and blue fancifully mixing on the front picture; my thoughts are drifting towards psychedelic rock straight from the seventies. Could Zhelezobeton, specializing primarily in industrial, have tricked us and given us music under which our parents were smoking weed?
Ogni Videniy is another Russian project, of the existence of which I learned while removing the disc from the envelope, and at the same time it’s one that has already managed to release some stuff. Eight albums, five of which are collaborations, among them one with Lunar Abyss that I quite like. Therefore I’m in ambient–industrial company, according to the label’s standards. I was inclined to trust all these surroundings and not be influenced by this amusing image on the cover.
It turns out that both of these directions are actually justified. “Sounding Emptiness” (excuse me, but I’ll be using the English title) is filled with dark ambient created in not a very bombastic, rather a restrained way. And simultaneously there’s some peculiarly unreal atmosphere, where you can easily roll a spliff helping to sail into the unknown with this project from Archangelsk. “The Pass” for example: a great piece, a descent in the damp catacombs, dirty water dripping on your head, and a hideously sweet odor irritating your sense of smell. After a moment you realize, however, that in this underground structure counting many centuries there shouldn’t be any cables lying on the floor, or monitors built in the walls. They suddenly begin to spark with rows and columns of numbers arranged in very clear patterns.
I don’t know why, ‘Immersion’ reminds me of a Middle Eastern desert at night, although the direct music references are missing – except maybe the calling drone, sounding like a mutated version of the sequence taken from “Falling Twilight” by Raison d’etre – but it’s possible that it’s more in my imagination than reality. Also, “Ashes From The Tablecloth” I quite like, perhaps because of its synth sounds as if from some ambient dub. If we were to move the electronic pulse from the background to the foreground and add some space, we’d almost get Echospace or something.
These are the best moments. The worse are present as well. “Wollo” and “Scattered Embers” bored me and – this applies to most pieces anyway – I feel that the gaps between the individual layers should be filled with sound, because despite the bizarre, sometimes quite subtle atmosphere, the ascetic feeling of these compositions seems too perceptible. Though perhaps that was the idea. But I wouldn’t be angry about slightly thickening the sound here and there.
Well, I also feel annoyed about this dissonance between music and graphic design. Obviously it’s different than the standard grim landschafts, but this image makes me feel that the artist is not taking the whole creative process seriously. And this stands in conflict with the “serious”, not necessarily distanced music. Generally speaking, it doesn’t kick ass, though a few compositions are good. I’ll be listening to it selectively.