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Russian player Konstantin Samolovov here with his first solo record Routes And Stops (MOM-AND-POP-GUM). We’ve heard this fellow over the years in experimental rock-noise-improv projects from Russia, such as Mars-96, Wozzeck, 231, and Dogs Bite Back; he also happened to be co-founder of the Spina!Rec cassette label, home to many of the more outre and bizarre experiments from this part of the world. Since that label seems to have given up the ghost lately, it’s nice to receive this item on the Mum-And-Pop-Gum label with its somewhat home-made package.

The record is more by way of sound-art field recording experiments than the noisy guitar exploits of Mars-96; the long tracks ‘stop here’ and ‘stop there’ showcase the sound of the wind, recorded from inside the car while parked in a field or a forest. Konstantin explains in brief about why he was attracted to this “melodic hum” created by the wind, and finally got a chance to make artistic capital from it during a family holiday at a farm. Not just the wind and the car, but the landscape, a nearby cabin, the open space, the passing time, and nature itself can all be reckoned as participating in this piece. Konstantin Samolovov wouldn’t be the first musician to be enchanted by the sound of the wind – as it happens, I have recently been leafing through a 1987 interview with La Monte Young, who often described the sound of the wind in his Idaho home as being a formative part of his rugged minimalist approach – but he has created two gently compelling pieces of work here, where the listener must lean in and strain to catch the nuances of nature’s bounty.

Between these two pieces is a shorter one called ‘Routes Ear’, which is pretty much a documentary capture of a family road trip taken from inside the car; the idea is that all the audible elements are part of the composition, including the motor, the rain outside, music from the radio, snatches of conversation, phone ringtones, and general “highway sounds”. These six minutes evidently comprise several recordings that have been edited to present a compressed impression of passing time, in a way that the other pieces might not have been (they seem more of apiece, long-form and durational). It’s not surprising to learn that ‘Routes Ear’ is also the soundtrack to a film. Curiously, the artiste tells us that driving in the family car is, for him, “not always a pleasant experience”, yet none of his disquiet or malaise is audible on the piece. I see that on a previous instance I was quite dismissive of this fellow’s 231 experiments with recordings of his family and home, but I am prepared to revise that evaluation on the basis of today’s release. From 1st February 2022.