The Ineffable Presence

Ilia Belorukov here with Someone Has Always Come (SR008), for the Polish label Sublime Retreat. This Russian composer, improviser, performer and instigator has a side of his personality that is very focussed, enabling him to deliver an album that is so intensely focussed on its chosen theme, that it excludes everything else in its scope. In this instance, he’s gone even further than that as today’s record is the third in a series that started in 2016, with the remorseless slab of grim greyness that was There Was Hardly Anybody There, which descended on the surface of the world in the form of a cassette, and is still squatting there as a forbidding unignorable presence. There was a part two released in 2018 for Moving Furniture Records, but we never got a copy.

Not only the music, but the album titles and track titles follow similar profiles; there are always four tracks on each release, and the titles are sentences which, if joined together, might amount to a treatise on alienation and separation, describing different aspects of the claustrophobic situation. If nothing else, these texts amount to a quasi-Kafka post-Beckett absurdist view of the intolerable universe, and accurately evoking the stasis of an inescapable doom. Through his occluded and restricted apertures, Ilia Belorukov glimpses the future in distressing fragments, showing a world where all individuality and humanity has been so drained of meaning that we’re now just pretty much interchangeable, modular units put to whatever purpose the state (or commerce) finds to be expedient. It’s that sense that we’re all just signs of equal value conveyed in the flat, empty drone-music, and in titles such as ‘It could have been anybody’.

Our Russian genius made this work through patient assembly of multiple layers of audio, working as adeptly as any contemporary electro-acoustic composer, and the printed shopping list details woodwind instruments, many synths, field recordings, and software for sound manipulation. The triumph has been to pack these layers so tightly that they almost form an unbreakable stratum of sound, where it’s well-nigh impossible to pick apart the constituent elements, and such conventions as dynamics or variations have been largely refused, in favour of sticking to the intended task. Thus the strong mood of despondency and grey despair is sustained for the whole album.

Photographic close-ups of brutalist concrete architecture put the final seal on the package, reinforcing the horrifying vision of an inescapable Hell, walling everything in, and completely without any human dimension. From 21st December 2021.