Yerofeev in Space: a fun light-hearted and crazed journey through noise soundscapes

Horacio Pollard, Yerofeev in Space, Germany, NEIGH PERCENT MUSIC N%032 limited edition cassette (2021)

The man behind Horacio Pollard is one Leon Barnett, not to be confused with the British football player of the same name and possibly similar age – born in Spain, raised in the UK and currently based in Berlin, he’s been an internationalist nearly all his life – who, one day, discovered and read 20th-century Russian dissident writer Venedikt Yerofeyev’s prose-poetry novel “Moscow-Petushki” (“Moscow Stations”) and liked it enough that he named one of his solo releases after the author. Originally written and published in samizdat form over 1969 and 1970, the novel follows the travails of one Venya, an alcoholic intellectual, who tries to visit his small son in Petushki, some 125 kilometres out from Moscow, via train. The train journey itself becomes the setting for monologues on history, politics, philosophy and life in the Soviet Union through a vodka-soaked point of view. Since its early underground publication (and later mainstream publication in 1989), “Moscow-Petushki” has come to be regarded as a modern classic of Russian literature.

As for the EP inspired by the novel, it certainly does sound as if it could be the soundtrack for the hero Venya’s journey. (I haven’t read it yet, by the way.) Divided into two 14-minute-plus tracks, “Yerofeev in Space” is a light-hearted and crazed affair of noisy electronic samples all mashed together yet all very clear and actually easy to follow. The music can be overwhelming at first but after a couple of hearings, parts of it turn out to be amazingly spacious. Parts of “Side A” even sound like a blaring train coming at you, the siren going off in warning. Splatter and rumble and weird effects going off in another dimension running parallel to ours are only to be expected here. “Side B” sounds even more like a train journey with early looping samples suggesting a rushing train, and some of the source material includes snatches of spoken dialogue. There definitely seems to be greater emphasis on samples that replicate loud and noisy motion, though that could be just my brain being off on a tangent picking out dynamic and powerful droning noises and rhythms.

It’s a very fun ride through sample after sample after sample of noise, field recordings and electronics in a short and digestible form. The samples used aren’t too extreme in their dynamics and there is a fair amount of space within this soundscape, so it doesn’t constantly bash you with staggering amounts of sound. If you were looking for an entry into Leon Barnett’s work as a solo artist and as a member of Clifford Torus, this cassette (available in a limited edition of 50 copies) would be it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *