Alexander Volodin

Reflections of Time

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Many composers supported by the Russian label Electroshock write music treading the gray areas between academic electroacoustics and new age music. Alexander Volodin's Reflections of Time is strongly footed on the former territory. The music combines untreated sound fragments (voices, music, environmental sounds) with complex sound treatments, all orchestrated into plastic pieces reminiscent of the works of Yves Daoust, Robert Normandeau, Natasha Barrett, or, to hit closer to home, Stanislav Kreitchi, with a more pungent taste for sound collage. Then again, the topic of the album -- time, its passing and reminiscence -- calls for flurries of sound images. The first piece, "The Flower Is Growing Up," is somewhat disappointing as, through its conformism to academic canons, it only reveals a glimpse of things to come. The triptych "Circles" is the standout work, a stunning amalgam of fragments lifted from the media, transformed and arranged in riveting kaleidoscopes. The fact that each movement clocks in at three minutes sharp only hits you after the cohesion of the whole work imposes itself. Brilliant. Opposite to this exercise in conciseness, the 30-minute "The Way to Star" adopts a much slower pace and is guilty of a few overlong passages. But Volodin establishes a nice (if somewhat clinical) atmosphere of lightly disquieting peacefulness. "The Music of My Memory," another triptych, also deserves a special mention. Here Volodin comes back to stacks of sound fragments, this time bits of recorded music, phone messages, voices and places from the past, half-remembered. Its grittier electronics and awkward juxtapositions (for instance, a female voice on an answering machine backed by an orchestral fragment in the third section) make for a very interesting listen.