The Evpatoria Report


Reviewed by Troy Southgate

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Available from Shayo Music, 21 Place Du Bourg-De-Four, CH 1204, Switzerland.

D ESCRIBED in the accompanying promotional literature as ‘(post)-rock’, this nicely packaged CD comes with grotesque-yet-curious photographs with several partial depictions of plasticated or computerised flesh that look as though they may have been borrowed from Gunther van Hagens ‘Körperwelten’ exhibition. Either that or a recently-disturbed Alpine cemetery is missing one or two of its half-rotted cadavers. But if the images themselves are fragmentary by design, there is certainly nothing incomplete about the album itself. Despite having just eight tracks, ‘Golevka’ – which bears the name of the asteroid first discovered by Eleanor F. Helin in 1991 - is still over 70 minutes in length.

The opening salvo, ‘Prognoz’, is a steady hum floating through a blissful galaxy of ambience. A series of low drones and sharp electric swathes add a more experimental rock element to the proceedings, followed swiftly by crashing cymbals and distorted guitar. But the character of this track is fairly Janus-faced, to say the least, and it does contain plenty of mellow, reflective moments.

The Evpatoria Report has been compared to other, more well-known experimental acts like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai and I can see why. It’s easy to drift away on the meditative tide that flows through ‘Prognoz’, named as it is after the Russian space centre behind several launch projects. But the track itself is amazing and I could listen to this stuff for hours on end. ‘Taijin Kyofusho’, which is a Japanese theory of social anxiety based on blushing, deformity, body odour and a phobia of eye-to-eye contact, starts off as a barely-audible slice of Industrial Noise joined by radio interference which is pierced through with the voices of American astronauts and measured guitar work. It’s very orchestral, too, the keyboards creating a vaguely sorrowful atmosphere punctuated by slow, heavy drumbeats. Meanwhile, in the background, something resembling a mandolin flutters away like a scene from an Italian piazza. The track then evolves into a film soundtrack, with the bass-playing reminding me slightly of The Who during their ‘McVicar’ period, although the distorted guitar takes it way beyond the volume levels of anything that Pete Townshend could rustle up. Things quieten down at the end, as it bubbles along like the steaming vapours of a martian volcano. On ‘Cosmic Call’, we have some electronic tweeting and the repetitive twanging of a guitar string running alongside the sweeping sounds of light waves made by the cymbals. It’s more upbeat than its predecessors, fluctuating somewhere between a garage jamming session and a Pink Floyd interlude.The group’s diversity is remarkable and they display a real willingness to mould the music as though it were a strip of aural plasticene. The semi-mandolin effects soon reappear with more voices, but this time with the precise nature of the conversation remaining slightly out of earshot.

‘C.C.S. Logbook’ involves the same generous use of guitar and drums, perhaps resembling Joy Division for a few moments and then throwing in some calm keyboards and shimmering dub effects. It’s quite striking, too, just how modern The Evpatoria Report sound on this track, although the production quality is second to none. The sound of an alarm straddles a Doors-like undercurrent which seems to fuse 80s-style Alternative onto a spaghetti western soundtrack. But that’s merely one moment in the life of this impressive song, nothing remains the same for very long and there is a constant process of musical evolution taking place here which tends to go through eclectic phases like Elizabeth Taylor gets through husbands. ‘Optimal Region Selector’, on the other hand, starts life as an organ synthesiser determined to interfere with something by Tangerine Dream before moving off into foot-tapping drumbeats and then an eventual counter-attack by the distorted strains of an oppressive guitar. But even this changes into a graceful and plodding melody, although the harsh drones never quite go away.

‘Dipole Experiment’ refers to the magnetic levitation of a circular conductor designed to generate immense power through the containment of plasma. This floating coil, known as LDX, is part of a programme to create an alternative source of energy. Musically, however, this track initially reminds me of Novatron’s ‘New Rising Sun’ album and even Remanence’s excellent ‘Watched Over By Angels’. There is a hint of Darkwave at work here, with beautiful keyboards adding a touch of drama and tragedy, although given the title I suspect that it has more to do with scientific creation and human achievement. The track is very orchestral, too, its semi-choral atmospherics rising to a crescendo before making way for a more galactic theme comprised of spatial minimalism and hushed voices. Rumbling frequencies jostle with Dark Ambience as the drumbeats return with renewed vigour. At this point ‘Dipole Experiment’ seems to approach Chill-Out status, but with more glorious orchestral themes thrown in for good measure. It’s a brilliant way to bring the album to a close and just one more reason why I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is something here for everyone.