[Reviewed by stark]
If I were to make a list of which project we received the largest number of promos from, since the beginning of the magazine, I think SiJ would occupy the second place, right behind Rapoon. Seriously, this guy seems like another no-life for whom making music is everything in the world. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it makes me wonder if labels check a musician’s “creative” background, and if the number of releases per year in other labels is actually one of the conditions before the proverbial signing a deal. Personaly I don’t suppose I’d release an album by an artist with such an extensive collection of CDs, tapes or digital recordings already in his discography. Unless his sounds truly amazed me, then it would be a different story.
Maybe that was the case with gterma and “Perseides”, I don’t know. I can understand it, I mean it doesn’t amaze me, but I admit that it’s a fairly good work created by experienced musicians. SiJ is accompanied by Sergey Gabbasov and this is their second offering for the Swedish publisher. The first was “Zhang Zhung”, also reviewed by me several months ago, and you may also remember Sergey for his collaboration with the Boström siblings on their “Hymnambulae” debut. On “Zhang Zhung” there were two long tracks, while “Perseides” consists of twelve shorter compositions. This time they use an even larger number of peculiar instruments including Hadza Malimba, Kyrgyz Temir-Khomus and Indian Bansuri plus the ones I mentioned in my “ZHang Zhung” review. Really, it’s like a lesson of musical geography. Not only because of the equipment, but also of the Eastern realms they’re taking us. On their first collaboration the main inspiration was Tibet. This time it’s a longer journey, from the Crimean Peninsula through Armenia, from Kyrgyztan to the northern parts of India. This reference may be understandable for Polish readers only, but it reminds me of “Sonety Krymskie” (“Crimean Sonnets”) the series of 18 poems by the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, who was inspired by his awe of these Eastern landscapes where the contact with Nature is closer than anywhere else. I take the liberty of presenting one of them, it’s the most famous one called “The Ackerman Steppes” (translation by Edna W. Underwood):
“Across sea-meadows measureless I go,
My wagon sinking under grass so tall
The flowery petals in foam on me fall,
And blossom-isles float by I do not know.
No pathway can the deepening twilight show;
I seek the beckoning stars which sailors call,
And watch the clouds. What lies there brightening all?
The Dneister’s, the steppe-ocean’s evening glow!
The silence! I can hear far flight of cranes—
So far the eyes of eagle could not reach—
And bees and blossoms speaking each to each;
The serpent slipping adown grassy lanes;
From my far home if word could come to me!—
Yet none will come. On, o’er the meadow-sea!”
Here you may read the others: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Sonnets_from_the_Crimea
They surely know how to capture the atmosphere of those regions of the Earth, often referring to traditional sounds and melodies, but like I said, I’m not particularly thrilled. It’s a rather generic form of ambient, which is alright when treated as a soundtrack for a documentary or an aural illustration for Mickiewicz’s sonnets, but when listened to individually I think it’s not able to induce complete immersion. It could use some more depth, spirituality or personal approach. I have to admit though, that there’s one moment of pure magic which contains all of these excessively: it’s the eighth track called “Kyrgyz” where they reach a dub/minimal techno style which along with the deeply emotional drones makes a tremendous impression. If the whole album would be like that, it might be one of my favourites for this year, but now all I can say about “Perseides” it’s that it’s decent. But for me and for the stellar standards of other gterma releases it’s not enough.
Yet I have “Kyrgyz” on repeat for like two hours now.
Sergey Gabbasov & SiJ – Perseides