Creation VI & Ugasanie
Together with the labels NEBOSVOD and ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ we're glad to present the proper reissue of the work, first published in 2015 in a small edition of 80 copies. This is a collaboration album recorded by the projects Creation VI and Ugasanie and dedicated to several sacred places of Chukotka, such as the Whale Bone Alley on Yttigran island and a collection of ancient rock engravings on the Pegtymel river. The album was inspired by the documentary "Chukotka: The Coast of Memory" directed by Andris Slapiņš and poems of the Yupik poetess Zoya Nenlyumkina, who was born in the now deserted village of Naukan, which at that time was the easternmost settlement of Eurasia.
Petroglyphs carved on stones along rivers, bird colonies and herds of walruses, whale skulls dug in the coast hundreds of years ago - many images were captured in the sounds of this album. Mouth harps and ocarins, throat singing, field recordings and transparent iridescence of cold creeping ambient, saturated with echoes of shamanistic rituals, cries of bird flocks and songs that the ocean sings to heavens, while playing on coastal pebbles.
The sound was remastered in 2019 specially for this edition. The disc is packaged in a glossy 6-panel digipack with photographs of the Whale Bone Alley. You can listen to the album and purchase a digital copy at bandcamp.
I often like to listen to some dark ambient that has a shamanistic or ritualistic element, so when the opportunity to listen to Creation VI and Ugasanie’s Birds of Naukan fell into my inbox, I was easily intrigued. Birds of Naukan is a re-issue of an album originally released in limited form back in 2015. It’s a collaboration between the two artists and is dedicated to some of the sacred places of Chukotka, the northernmost region of Russia, with spectacular tundra scenery and history.
As you might expect from an album that is focussed on that kind of landscape, the music is laden with field-recordings, tribal sounds, chants and a feeling of cold exposure. The opening track: Nuneangan is a great case in point. It begins with the sounds of birdsong and trickling water, a bit of thunder and an echoing quality that seems to hint at being in the mouth of a cave. It isn’t long before other notes and tones emerge, from one that sounds like the shushing of a boiling kettle, to horns and a kind of guttural gurgling. It’s a texture-laden opening track, and I particularly liked how the soundscape darkens as it progresses.
Track two is Yttygran, a track that has a quite ominous quality, with scraping and rustling sounds, playing along with the boing-boing sound of a mouth-harp. This track felt like it was a slow build-up of forces, the sounds taking on the nature of the wind inhaling before it screams. Near the midpoint, footsteps can be heard making their way through the landscape, walking the listener into a different space of high shimmering resonant sounds and an insect-like swarming buzz.
Track three is Souls of Whales, and it begins with a deep, whispering rustling, and a sound similar to someone running a finger-nail along a plastic comb’s teeth. About one third of the way in, drum-beat and bone sounds make way for the sound of the sea, crashing waves and piped notes. Things turn a little more ominous towards the end as some of the calls and cries that can be heard take on a wolf-howl aspect, to me at least.
Next up is Pegtymel, the longest track on the album. Something about this track hinted at a “fever dream” like quality, the dog-like barks and pleasing mouth-harp tune sitting amongst a drumbeat and voices that take on the element of screams as the track plays out. A track with quite a ghostly feel to it.
The final track is The Keepers, the shortest track at just over five minutes, and one that eases the listener back to the real world by way of more mouth-harp, the rise and fall of drone, and a furtive ethereal quality that is chased away by hints of birdsong at the end.
Birds of Naukan is a pleasing album, probably containing the most mouth-harp of anything I’ve ever listened to, but that’s no bad thing. The instruments and field-recordings used in each track really do create a feeling of an ancient culture in an even more ancient land. I also think it’s a great antidote to the mind-numbing Xmas music that is plaguing much of the Western world right now. Who needs a fat git in a red costume squeezing down your chimney when you can have the stark beauty of the Russian tundra filled with the voices of the ghosts who once lived there. There’s no comparison as far as I’m concerned.
Ambient music is being bound to specific concepts quite often; this fact adds a lot of color and depth to a seemingly monotonous genre. But today, my dear friends, you will witness not only a concept, but a deed, a mystical manifestation of natural powers which are usually hidden from uninitiated eyes. Those powers cannot be curbed because our weak selves are unable to challenge even their smallest part; though there are a few chosen that don't try to enslave something that is beyond their understanding, but try to live in close symbiosis with earth and sun, with wind and primordial frost, with waters of a deep and cold northern sea.
Located somewhere on the edge of the world, where it seems that not only life, warmth and civilization end, but also time itself stays frozen for centuries, lies the ancient land of Yupik peoples, the land which is soaked with those natural powers and grants them its true sons and daughters. The sounds that is flowing out of my speakers today is a fragile attempt of two Russian based projects, deeply imbued by the spirit of this mysterious place, to transform at least a small piece of their impression into the form of music and present it to their faithful audience and other fans of the drone/ambient genre.
I am not sure if our comrades had been traveling to those distant lands to gain the knowledge and collect various field recordings, but even if not, they have definitely studied the subject in depth. And I would advise every listener to read at least few articles that can be easily found on Wiki, because it is really important in order to feel the whole spectrum of spiritualism that is hidden inside the music of this album while Birds of Naukan brings us a sound visualization of the millennia of history which must be preserved as a part of human culture. Historically Naukan was an old settlement of Yupik peoples which existed for many centuries and until 1956 was the most eastern human settlement in Eurasia, before the USSR government relocated it. Creation VI & Ugasanie take us on unforgettable journey into the exotic lifestyle and culture of this small endangered tribe binding field recordings with drones.
Even while being a kind of a continuous soundtrack, the album structure can be easily recognized because each and every track has its own dedication and theme. The first one is dedicated to "Nuneangan", an abandoned Yupik village which once was the most eastern human settlement of Eurasia before the USSR government destroyed it for some unknown political strategic reason. Sounds of water and rain, of wind and birds' twits are supported with a distant background hum that adds an extreme depth to this composition and a very meditative mood ensures an easy and natural flow. "Yttygran" takes us to a distant island, windblown and surrounded by cold ocean waters, lost between nowhere and the edge of the world. This track promises an even deeper immersion into a solid piece of drone music when a soft melody of a ritual flute joins the game somewhere in the middle. The island is famous for its mysterious Whale Alley, the alley which was built from bones and skulls of the whales that had been hunted by the locals for centuries; the alley was a central point of ritual gatherings of hunters for many centuries. The whole mysticism of the place is being projected into the third track of this wonderful album with a slow and dark droning melody backed up by the same wide spectrum of field recordings.
Needless to mention, that even after the first half of the record I was completely blown away by the spiritual, magical tunes, but the next composition called "Pegtymel" proves that there is still a long road ahead. Named after a big river in Far East Siberia, this track is the most authentic in the whole album carrying the direct visions of the local culture projected to the sound of vargan, a very common local instrument, and a monotonous shamanic chanting. It tells the story of Pegtymel rock art images painted a thousand years ago on the Pegtymel cliffs, conjuring primal figures from an endless oblivion to dance near the campfire together with a spiritual tribe. And I truly believe that the closing track is a direct dedication to those brave, modest and strong people that continue to keep their culture, continue to preserve their way of life and their beliefs to the sound of vargan flowing in the frozen air, against all odds.
Once again I succeeded in finding a great interest in nature based ambient music. The theme, the highest level of performance and sound construction creates one of the best drone ambient albums that I heard during the last year. Sometimes it seems that nature itself whispered in the ears of the guys behind Creation IV and Ugasanie to compile a really solid and sophisticated record. My dear reader, I am sure that with a little help of “Birds of Naukan” you will be permeated by the spirit of northern nature as never before.
CD-R (ltd. 60)
CD-R BOX (ltd. 20)
3. Souls of Whales
5. The Keepers
total length: 50:40
release date: April 22, 2015
out of print