Downbeat sounds from what sounds like a snowed-in St. Petersburg, what X.Y.R has made here is a record of pop music obscured in ambience. His keyboard works sound muted, even untouced here, as if the keys are serving themselves from an attic corner -- with its foggy beats and low-key melodies, his music sounds like a lovely, recently rediscovered antique.
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X.Y.R. is revealed on the web to stand for Xram Yedinennogo Razmuwlenuja -- yes, my spellcheck hates me right now -- but his name might actually be Vladimir Karpov. The mysterious St Petersburg man possibly made this record holed up away from the snow in his bunker which handily doubles up as a recording studio. Well, there’s nothing like the cold to get you concentrating. Icicles. Brrr.
It’s a record of pop songs trying to break out of ice, yet not with an air of desperation to escape. The tunes are quite happy where they are, thanks. Keys ring distantly through hazy mists. Maybe this is what dry ice actually sounds like. Anyway, the record is beckoning me in and I think I’m ready. The things I do for you people.
‘Arcana’ sets the tone: like discovering a secret chamber, or a portal into a mystical world where analog synths swirl and shimmer their way to a melodic conclusion. ‘False Angel Lullaby’ glides into the mid-distance, and here’s the ghostly vocal of Tosya Chaikina crystallising itself. It’s a thing of pristine beauty. This is a world where dust and cobwebs don’t exist; perhaps dirt never settled here. Listening is like breathing in the purest, freshest air. ‘Labyrinth of Reflections’ uh, reflects this: harmonic keys transport to a place where light appears brightly, broadly, still clean and clear having made its way through translucent layers of thick ice. Closing track ‘Febribus’ hypnotises throughout its 11-minute duration, as synths arc then spiral away to be replaced by more and more and more synth beauty, and the percussion on this one is delicious. Also, check the stellar podcast he kindly made for us.
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