Angelina Yershova, Ynaktera, Time for Change, Italy, Twin Paradox Records, TPR006 CD (2022)
Kazakhstan-based pianist Angelina Yershova teams up with Italian electronics artist / producer Ynaktera on a work reflecting on global climate change and how it might shape the future evolution of human societies. “Time for Change” turns out to be a lovely collaboration of radiant ambient sounds and mellifluous piano melodies that can sometimes turn suddenly dark, even menacing. While Yershova pours out her feelings on climate change on piano, Ynaktera’s glitchy electronics and droning synthesisers bring a hard edge and foreboding atmosphere that lift Yershova’s efforts beyond mere tickling of the ivories into an urgent heartfelt message.
With the exception of the ten-minute “Awakened Goddess”, most tracks are of a digestible length between three and seven minutes – the length of your average pop song – and to some extent can be self-contained thanks to Ynaktera’s sound treatments surrounding Yershova’s piano-playing. An early highlight is “Global Ocean Warming” where brisk noisy seafoam splash and spray more or less continuously through the track while squiggles, ambient tone drone and background moan duel for attention. “Walking on Water” continues the water theme with rhythm loops and vocal sighs that might induce anxiety against a background of samples suggesting underwater activity.
The album continues in its low-key way with Ynaktera’s synthesiser drones and glitch electronics weaving more atmosphere and mood around Yershova’s tinkling piano melodies. Tracks pass by quite briskly and on some tracks the music becomes lounge music pop for idle armchair astronauts. “Everything is Connected” could even serve as incidental or theme music for a TV show with its wet-sounding beats, catchy piano tunes and playful space-ambient effects. The best track though in this respect (and of the whole album incidentally) is “Cluster Light” where Yershova plays some inspired piano melodies that go off-kilter and follow Ynaktera’s terse rhythms and glitchy sounds, and which end up leading Yershova herself into some very strange and discombobulating dark music surrounds.
The sound universe created by Yershova and Ynaktera is rich, filled with pulsating beats and rhythms, strange and not always benign atmospheres and moods, and sometimes a sense of wonder and amazement at whatever strange things might be happening. Despite frequent excursions into dark ambient interiors and a sense of foreboding on some tracks, the music is steady and is never given to intense Sturm und Drang emotions. At the same time though, there is not really a sense of the two musicians trying to push their instruments to their utmost extremes and I can’t help but think that Yershova and Ynaktera together could have done much, much more with the sounds and effects they discover together.