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Darkness in Moscow [2019-04-12]

On March 30 2019, in Moscow, at the famous Cultural Centre "Dom", one of the key post-industrial/ dark ambient events of this spring took place. It brought together legendary Swedish projects Raison D'Etre and Desiderii Marginis, along with the well-known Russian project Creation VI- all organized with the support of Russian company Mist-crossing Division.

Early spring in Moscow is usually rather a cold season, with puddles, dirty snow and occasional sunny days. March 30 was a good warm day, but in the evening a rather cold wind picked up. So, it was somewhat chilly waiting for the door to open, outside the venue, as the show was delayed by an hour. I chatted with one of the staff at Cultural Center "Dom",  learned that the delay is due to the fact that some additional equipment is needed, but it's already on the way. Outside, a rather large number of fans were waiting for the concert. And I realized how many types of people can be who love this kind of music- going from ordinary, unremarkable young people, to gothic girls and harsh guys, looking like bikers. I also noticed several experimental musicians, such as Svyatoslav Ponomarev, Felipe Caramelos and Jan Kruml, with whom I managed to have a word with after the concert. I noticed one of the organizers of the concert, who walked to the entrance with Peter Andersson and Johan Levin. Honestly, I thought that the fans would immediately be photographed with them and ask for autographs, but no one approached them. Perhaps the audience was a little shy or didn’t recognize the musicians at all. However, the doors opened and the audience began to enter the hall.

The cultural centre "Dom" is a kind of cult place for experimental music fans and  musicians working in this genre. It’s a  very cosy and comfortable place, with a small hall, low stage and a bar located behind the last rows of spectator chairs. This time, not everyone had enough chairs. Some were sitting on the floor, some were standing behind the rows. On the stage was a long table, on which were placed three laptops and various  musical equipment. Behind the stage was a large screen to show the video.

 

The honour of opening the concert was the Russian (formerly Ukrainian) Drone Ambient project Creation VI. The musician settled down behind the right laptop and the concert began. Creation VI was founded by the Crimean musician Tim Six in 2006. The debut album was released in 2009, and currently, the project’s discography includes almost forty releases. For almost a fifty-minute set, Creation VI gave the listeners a stream of very rich and deep Drone Ambient, not without some fairly light parts. During the performance, the musician used quite a lot of various small acoustic devices - such as rattles, harp, & many other things. Also Tim Six’s voice was used too-
he whispered and hissed into the microphone, his voice transformed into streams of noise and hum. Throughout the performance, a video was broadcast on the screen that was of a clear ecological nature. Kaleidoscopic footage frames of tropical forests, insects and sea animals were replaced by futuristic 3D landscapes and fantastic aircraft. When the set was completed, the audience warmly clapped. For the most part I really enjoyed this set, however, I felt the middle of the performance was a bit tight and monotonous.

 


Following a  short break- Johan Levin took to the stage to loud applause. Desiderii Marginis' name appeared on the screen. And the sound began ... Johan gave the audience a thick, rich and, in some places bordering on noise, Dark Ambient. Bells tore the humming soundscapes. The floor was shaking with low frequencies. The auditorium was filled with the atmosphere of a sound apocalypse. Johan used several devices to give the sound of new colours - springs, cymbal and something else. All these external sounds were transformed and merged into the general sound stream. It was noticeable that Johan was very focused & pleased -  as he listened to the sounds, nodded, smiled. In seconds of rest, Johan took a couple of sips of beer from a bottle standing nearby. On the screen behind the musician, a video sequence was broadcast, consisting of fragments of old documentaries and feature films of historical, religious and philosophical nature. This created a complete immersion in the atmosphere of Desiderii Marginis. I can say with confidence that the video series and music were inextricably linked into a single whole. Desiderii Marginis plays a rather original take on Dark Ambient, which borders on industrial, noise and even Dark Folk. But this time Johan Levin played a very dark, almost otherworldly Dark Ambient with a slight touch of industrial. When the performance was over, the audience was delighted. Frankly, I’ve never been a big fan of Desiderii Marginis, but I enjoyed some of the projects work. I can  certainly say that Desiderii Marginis' live performance has changed my attitude to the work of Johan Levin. It was a hypnotic immersion in the depths of sound.

 

 

There was another short break. With  everyone was waiting eagerly  performance of the legendary Peter Andersson/ Raison D'Etre. Peter calmly and modestly walked up to the stage and stood next to the last laptop. Next to the table, to the left was a rack with a curved piece of metal suspended from it. A 3D cross appeared on the screen, soaring among the dark fog and the performance of Raison D'Etre began. Peter created a dark and eerie atmosphere of doom and loneliness, diluted with rather aggressive fragments. There is no trace of the slightly airy and sublime sound of the early Raison D'Etre albums. Only darkness,  sadness, loneliness and suffering, woven into one sound stream. Single bell beats and rare percussion sounds invaded this atmosphere. The feeling was created that the air was filled with these sound vibrations, and the hall is the epicentre of the invisible ghostly tornado. Peter used several devices to give the sound fresh shades- taking in iron, cymbal and violin bow, as well as a very interesting, almost fantastic, device, which I would characterize as a wind controller. On the screen during the performance, slow, almost static footage with a floating cross, bone macro photographs, a kind of pupil resembling a fire funnel and various textures were shown. If with the Desiderii Marginis set, the video was inextricably linked with the sound, then in the Raison D'Etre set, the video carried a rather supporting function. The video was just as a fact, but all the attention of the audience was paid to Peter Andersson. He was very focused and attentive to what he was doing. I think that he did not make any mistakes in his performance. Of course, an integral part of the performance was a bottle of beer, which Peter finished just at the end of his set. The last sounds were silent, Peter thanked the audience, and the hall generously awarded the musician with applause. The concert is over.

I can  certainly say that this event made an indelible impression on me. I saw a performance by musicians whose works I have been following for over 20 years. I was struck by the professionalism and ease with which their performance took place. A day earlier, Raison D'Etre, Desiderii Marginis and Creation VI gave the same concert in St. Petersburg. Despite the fact that the musicians were a few hours on the road and, I am sure, did not have time to rest well, the concert was easy and cheerful. I think that, despite the rather gloomy sound, the audience is fully charged with positive energy. At least I'm for sure.

Special thanks to the organizers of the event - Mist-crossing Division. These are very open and friendly people with whom it is pleasant to communicate with. The event was held at a high level, in an atmosphere of friendliness and ease. It remains only to thank Peter Andersson, Johan Levin and Tim Six for their work. It was a great show all round. I hope I’ll get another chance to see these wonderful musicians  perform again.

 

Photo credits: first menu pic Raison D'Etre,first in review pic Creation VI, 2nd in interview pic Desiderii Marginis, 3rd in review pic Raison D'Etre- all taken by Viktor Novak

Sergey Pakhomov
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