Galya Bisengalieva is a violinist and leader of the London Contemporary Orchestra. Aralkum is her new album. Its subject concerns the Aral Sea in Central Asia which has been shrinking since the 1960s due to Russian irrigation projects intercepting its tributaries. Gayla has previously played on A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead, Blond by Frank Ocean and Suspiria by Thom Yorke so you may already have heard her sound.
Vinyl LP £17.49 TPLP1572
LP on One Little Independent.
CD £11.49 TPLP1572CD
CD on One Little Independent.
The term ‘Aralkum’ is a relative neologism - it is the name of the central Asian desert that now sits on the land which was previously the eastern basin of the Aral Sea, a once-mighty lake that has been dwindling in size ever since the Soviet Union diverted the rivers that fed it back in the 1960s.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of Galya Bisengalieva’s ‘Aralkum’ for a second. Such man-made monsterings of the natural world spark a feeling of total desolation in us, the realisation that something which should have been cherished has been needlessly frittered away and is now lost forever. It makes one feel pain and rage and abject hopelessness.
I only really get the sense of the latter from ‘Aralkum’. Overall this album is too lacking in dynamism to capture anything other than a vague sense of greyscale mournfulness. The frustrating thing is that ‘Aralkum’ has potential. Interesting sonic worlds are intimated many times across the album - Prurient-esque drones whirr away in the several pieces, the title-track’s baroque scale recalls Eartheater and Golem Mecanique, and there’s some intriguing looping going on on ‘Zhalanash’. However, too often there is little by way of development, the record either defaulting to ethereal vagueness and failing to act on the potential of its many good ideas. For an album which should have been wrought in bold strokes, ‘Aralkum’ is frustratingly cautious.
9/10 Zoe Worthing 9th September 2020
An incredibly moving piece of work. You can really feel the narrative here, going on a journey through a lush landscape and ending in a desolate one. Galya Bisengalieva is creating sounds and textures I have never heard before.
I really recommend a deep listen.
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