CD (ltd. 300)
The Moscow-based project Cyclotimia, well-known for its long-standing interest for the world of global finance, stockmarket speculators and multinational corporations, presents its new work "The Invisible Hand of Market". According to the musicians, this is not a conceptual album dedicated to the economic term of Adam Smith. In this case it's rather a metaphor "invisibly" linking together various compositions created during 2010-2013.
The album's program consists of ten polystylistical tracks combining such genres as "post-industrial", "minimal(ism)", "dark ambient", "experimental" and "downtempo". The main line is a connection between the "sacral" and the "futuristic", a combination of a liturgical atmosphere and electronic music based on the above-mentioned styles.
A separate part of the disc belongs to a 20 min. long electro-acoustic suite "Oil & Gas Colony" in five acts. Parts of vocal, classical string, wind and percussion instruments were recorded inside a dome of an abandoned radar station - a carbon fiber sphere 20 meters in diameter with a unique acoustic environment. This monumental work tells about the malignant nature of the resource-based economic model in modern Russia.
It's been a while since I heard 'Music For Stockmarkets' by Cyclotimia (see Vital Weekly 668), who expand their interest in the world of global finance further with this new release, consisting of ten pieces, as well as five extra pieces called 'Oil & Gas Colony', plus a sixteenth bonus piece. Just yesterday I told someone that just music doesn't make a great story in the newspaper, you have to market your music, preferably with a good story, a fine myth or something that nobody else thought of. In these pieces, like before, it's hard to recognize the invisible hand of market (or visible for that matter) and these boy(s)/girl(s) play their vintage soviet synths in a variety of styles. A bit of dance, a bit of industrial, a bit of ambient and while all is instrumental; you could say this is a bit of modern pop music. I can hear that guy from Depeche Mode intoning his sonorous voice here in some of these pieces - now we just have some occasional dialogue from a movie. Sixteen songs, one hour, which means they aren't that long at all, but every one seems to the point. The 'Oil & Gas Colony' pieces are a bit more abstract, more like a radio play; spoken word, a collage of sounds and such like, making it more of a story. I think that is indeed a route they should follow more and make more out of the whole 'finance' edge they have. Like with the previous release I enjoy this release, but it seems also a bit long.
Cyclotimia shows once again the talent and vision of an electronic shaman who becomes a working conduit between the astral and the cultured. This CD holds two separate works on it, titled “The Invisible Hand of Market” and “Oil & Gas Colony”, and through them, In sixteen different tracks, the world turns into an enlightened eye, watching urban rhythms float together with cavernous rituals and seemingly random phone calls. This is not chaos, but instead it’s a detailed and almost spiritual understanding of invisible hands and invisible minds.
The sounds of fax machines become a binary system of rhythm, and finally mix with primitive psychedelics that make a mundane human description of computer language into a profound realization on the track “Digits”. “Nord Stream” is an ancient tribal throat singing, being warped into 23rd century space travel and “Oligarchy” is a surrealist soundtrack of oriental minimalism that you really can’t foresee. Each track shows a different world of ideas that should be explored thoroughly and repetitively.
Both magical space empires of “The Invisible Hand of Market” and “Oil & Gas Colony” are wonderful works, in the tradition of Cyclotimia’s music and of Zhelezobeton’s releases.
It is not a secret that commercial numbers rule our life in many aspects, somehow they manage to reach us even when we try to escape from them, to build our life in a complete solitude far away, in the very depth of the forests. It is sad but to admit that market economics enslaved us all, penetrating the most intimate parts of human beings' relationships. It is quite seldom that we can see somebody who is not dependent from the influence of market oscillations, currency rates drops or any other processes in economics. As a guy that has some connection to stock exchange I can assure you, even if you try to keep your profile as communist as possible, you cannot run away. Each time that you consume, this action point throws you into a so called "circle of trust". Maybe I am kind of a captain obvious rising this theme, but unfortunately I came across different sick fanatics during my life that were masturbating on various versions of utopia. But I try to be more realistic and keep sticking to the old joke in situations that are far beyond my control or power: "If you are being raped, try to relax at least and enjoy the situation", heh! Therefore, when the story is about global economics, better relax with the new album of Cyclotimia which is called by the consonant name "The Invisible Hand of Market".
If you decide to dig some information about this strange word "cyclotimia", you will be able to discover that it defines a psychical disorder which is common for the modern world with its high demands towards personality and personal performances. Not everybody is able to stick to the speed of life when obstacles and events create tornadoes sucking him into galloping routine and causing numerous mood disturbances, with periods of hypomanic symptoms alternating with periods of mild or moderate depression. And I feel that the definition is very close to the description of the music created by this Moscow based duo; I never know what to expect before listening to their albums that are constantly released during last fifteen years. But there are few elements that became a trademark and easily recognizable script for all of those who look for releases arriving from post-soviet era, like their 80s analogue sound with a soft touch of futuristic digitized electronics. The choice of the name for their last album has its special meaning being at least the third release inspired by the same theme of global economics. Max, one of the members of Cyclotimia, reminds in one of his interviews:
"...I guess my interest in financial markets came from studying economics in university. A lot of inspiration came from works by Fernand Braudel about the history of capitalist economy; a crazy book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill; expressive texts and verses by Ezra Pound, Bertolt Brecht, Emile Verhaeren. I should also mention sci-fi, utopian, conspiracy literature and movies - everything influenced me in its own way..."
"The Invisible Hand of the Market" is another conceptual album with ten tracks of the new material being united with five tracks under the code name "Oil & Gas Colony" that were released during 2012 as a digital format EP. The band doesn't betray its sound developed during last five-six years. The melodies are quite minimalistic exploiting good old techniques of analogue electronics together with soft inclusions of electronic broken beat. Some of the compositions remind a little bit of Kraftwerk in the beginning of their career, especially when the sound starts to balance on the edge of 8-bit electronics. Tracks like "Cosmopolis", "In Fieri" and "Ads Norns" throw me twenty five years back in time playing Atari games, some kind of "Space Invaders" or "Tetris", a true injection of nostalgia. But please, don't misjudge minimalism with the lack of creativity, all the tunes serve a specific goal and stick directly to the main theme. "Bethel" and "Golem Inc" can be a perfect background music for operating with statistic numbers, watching stock exchange rates on the big screen and other manipulations in the field of economics. Futuristic and modestly dynamic, the record has a certain drive to carry it on the journey of almost forty minutes long.
With "Oil & Gas Colony" part of this CD, Cyclotimia takes a slightly different approach. The music turns to be much more experimental and atmospheric, the rhythm is sacrificed for different special effects and distorted speeches. Slim memories that were presented in previous tracks slowly disappear when the sound becomes formless and diffused concentrating completely on ambience and not on specific significant content. A bonus track under the name "Regresium" puts an end to this exploration with pure 8-bit textures summing it up in one electronic impulse.
In the world created by the new album of Max and Leonid, the market becomes an independent organism controlling every move of myriads of people by its invisible hand. I cannot claim that I was blown away by the way this message was presented, but I was never a big fan of minimalistic electronics before. Nevertheless, it fits into the niche of easy listening music that I use to put into my CD player while working on some routine or ordinary project at my day job, and I must confess that it was played at least five-six times in a row without even paying attention to the loop. Another good record to the portfolio of those Moscow based residents and another good addition to my personal collection. It is not too late for you to start your stock market career, just lay your hands on this CD and start investing while the tunes of Cyclotimia play on background.
I have found Cyclotimia very hard to categorize throughout its career. The Moscow-based duo’s music contains something very electroacoustic like, something innovatively restless, and something that brings thin-toned art gallery concerts to mind. Many of their albums have left me cold, in a “good pieces, but not reaching their full potential”. The Invisible Hand of Market is the exception to that: it clearly a fine work. The songs are still artwork-style and thin on sound, even simplistic, yet they contain many nuances and they function as surprisingly effective earworms. The tone is dominantly high, one could even say superficial, but it works. So does also the use of rhythms for added emphasis, as do the embedded speech samples as well. There’s also a lot of change, in a contributing manner.
Unfortunately the situation does not continue all the way to the end. The five-track addition, Oil & Gas Colony, is obviously less interesting and towards the end, even annoying, and the final bonus, Regresium, mostly worthless. The main work is however so fine that this is nevertheless the best Cyclotimia album so far, a gem of innovative, thin compositional art.