revenant : zeltini CD

‘revenant : zeltini’ 01:05:07

unfathomless 05 CD

site-specific session with: Eamon Sprod (Tarab), Max Shentelevs, John Grzinich, Kaspars Kalninsh and Felicity Mangan

recorded November 15, 2008 at Zeltini, Latvia

mixed the following months from 4 synchronized binaural recordings (or ‘multi-naural’ as I refer to it).

‘revenant’ was a project with open membership that focused on site-specific acoustic actions. All sounds originated from materials found in-situ, and from interactions with the space itself.

Zelitini is a former Soviet military base located in the forests of Northeastern Latvia which is now abandoned. This particular base housed missiles from the Soviet nuclear arsenal that needed to be stored in large horizontal bunkers. On this visit we arrived rather late and found that most of the bunkers had been locked up. As it grew dark and cold we decided to set up in the last open bunker to record as we new it would be our only chance to collaborate in this unique space.


An ongoing project with open membership, that is what Revenant is about. On their second (?) CD, we find John Grzinich again, but with four new members, Maksims Shentelevs, Eamon Sprod, Kaspars Kalninsh and Felicity Mangan. The five of them went to Zeltini, a former Soviet army base in Latvia and they looked for some stuff to create music with, as this is another angle of Revenant. Find material on the site, and play that as it were instruments, using the space as its concert space or studio. Again we are not told how this was recorded or edited, but for about fifty plus minutes we hear these five persons moving through the bunker space, toying around with the various objects they found in this space, like glass, stones and metal. This is done in a musical manner, through means of improvisation. Not a random scattering of debris, but listening and interacting with each other and creating music with non-musical objects. There are overtones to be found here, which are hard to place (wind? somebody blowing a pipe?), which add a nice textural tone to the proceedings. Maybe like the previous one, this is the natural element that is being used here. I am not entirely sure. The only reference I could think of is the recent work of Jeph Jerman – closely miked acoustic objects being played, but then in the large resonating bunker in Latvia. Not the most easy listening one around, but surely some great music has been captured here. (Frans de Waard on Vital Weekly)

Revenant (I can’t help but think of some especially powerful and frightening figures from Doom) on this occasion, November 2008 in Latvia, consisted of Maksims Shentelevs, Eamon Sprod, John Grzinich, kaspars Kalninsh and Felicity Mangan (though Grzinich writes: “‘revenant’ is an ongoing project with open membership”). No instrumentation is mentioned and, further, there’s a notation on the sleeve stating, “Final piece edited from 4 synchronized binaural recordings”.
Perhaps it’s the cover imagery, maybe the former-SSR setting, but it’s quite tempting to hear this dark, brooding music as inhabiting a Stalker-like environment. There’s an oppressiveness, a dank aspect wherein one thinks of cold, clammy surfaces, algae-covered wall, ancient heavy machinery. The two overriding sounds areas are a blurred, metallic kind of drone, as though there’s a sputtering engine at work somewhere down the dark corridor and the clanking of light metal objects, linked like chains, skittering across the foreground. Small rhythms emerge: soft-mallet taps with a vaguely gamelan feel, as though at least one of the devices lying around still functions. Some faint voices then, rather surprisingly, a jew’s harp, strumming away in a loose rhythm, verging on a melodic fragment, a hapless fellow traveler in the sewers. This continues for the final 10+ minutes of the work, some increasingly violent clatter alongside, until the sounds skid to a conclusion among the chirps of mechanical beetles and sloshing water.
The work is almost static, in a sense, minor events drifting in and out of focus; again, one thinks of the lengthy water-covered floor shot of Tarkovsky, though the focus here isn’t quite so sharp. (Brian Olewnick on Just Outside)

Revenant is an open-membership project carried on by a number of specialists of location recording, in this occasion the quintet of Maksims Shentelevs, Eamon Sprod, John Grzinich, Kaspars Kalninsh and Felicity Mangan. The environment inspiring this release is an abandoned Soviet military base in a Latvian forest, comprising large horizontal bunkers where missiles were once stored. One of them – the only that hasn’t been shut yet – was used for a semi-transcendental experience in which the participants spread around the place in almost total darkness, “feeling my way through the space by hand and by ear” as noted by Sprod. As always in this sort of venture, we have to divide things. On a side, the value of the product as a document of a unique event, obviously higher for those who lived it. On the other, audiences at home trying to find elements of interest in something that risks sounding as a thousand of products of comparable origin. In this case, the professionalism of the people involved and their ability of determining the building’s responsiveness and its inherent musicality made the difference and – although I wouldn’t say that the album is really special – a good part of the resounding materials is sufficiently evocative to justify the need of spinning the disc several times to look for additional details and psychological hints. At any rate, let me be very explicit: in this house, stretched frequency auras and baffling resonances will forever be preferred to rustling noises and “scrape, rattle ‘n’ roll” incidents, of which there’s no shortage here. (Massimo Ricci on Touching Extremes)

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