Following a run of double album releases, RTR returns to one album each month. The first album to be released on its own comes from Oleksandr Demianenko. ‘Indian memories and captured radio waves’ (RTR039) from the Ukraine-born and Tbilisi, Georgia-based multimedia artist arrives tomorrow (Monday, 29th). Oleksandr’s ‘sound’ varies in instrumentation and theme from one release to the next. However, all of the artist’s work is underpinned with a sense of warmth and texture, be it achieved through analogue mediums, field recordings, or mediated loops. Oleksandr also runs Giraffe Tapes, a new label still within its first year. In addition to releasing music on RTR and via his own imprint, Oleksandr’s work has appeared via Alex Ruder’s Hush Hush Records.
In the first Maker instalment for quite some time, Oleksandr talks about his early introductions to ambient and experimental music, discusses the inspiration and processes behind creating new work, gives a list of listening recommendations, and explains how experimentations with cassettes from a young age turned into a fascination with the medium.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
I remember well one day, and it can probably be called an acquaintance. I always recollect these feelings when I start thinking in that direction. At some point, my older brother graduated from the village 8-grade school and went to study in a larger city. And the first thing he brought me as a gift was cassettes by The Future Sound of London – ‘Lifeforms’ and Boards of Canada – ‘Twosim’. I was ~12-14 years old, since that moment everything has changed a lot in my musical preferences and with each visit he brought and shared his new musical finds, later it was CD. I still don’t know where he got it. But at the age of 16-18 I had a good collection of classics IDM and there was a lot of ambient and experimental music, all these discs I still keep in a safe place, there are practically no pirated ones (I don’t know where he got the official discs from Warp and so on in Kiev in the late 90s) – many albums from that time still my favourite and I always try to recreate this in my vinyl and cassette collection.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
It always starts out unexpectedly. I don’t have such a situation that I set myself the task of writing a new album or something like that. I noticed that everything is periodic in my self-expression, but there are some things that are closely related and provoke each other: film photography, field recording, drawings, places with child memories and seasons. something always comes to the fore. For example, an album for a Rusted Tone Recordings – I tried to go through and re-scan my archives of photo films and in my hands, there were several negatives from my first trip to India and I immediately remembered my field recordings from there it is connected for me because I often photographed and recorded audio at the same time – how an image on a film reproduces sound and vice versa. At the same time, I was addicted with amateur radio – and using amateur antennas, I tried to talk with Africa and other continents on waves at 20-40 meters and also recorded some sessions. Some pieces of my improvisations on the piano at my friends’ house were also added there. As a result, ‘Indian memories and captured radio waves’ was written.
How do you approach working on a new release?
It always happens by itself somehow. If I wake up or fall asleep with some kind of inspiration, I try to express it in some kind of physical embodiment, whatever it is, a photo, video, music, drawing, installation, whatever. I noticed that it is important for me, before doing something integral, first of all to define the toolkit – if we talk about music – not to grab onto all the instruments in the studio in a row and not try to endlessly edit or improvise everything. I often try to keep the first take of the mix, even if there are roughness’s, it is more important for me to leave the emotion and contact of the music with the hands, especially when we talk about analogue sources. In all these endless computer-assisted edits, the magic disappears easily.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
Oh, it’s not easy for me as there have been many. Here are ten from the last twelve months:
Clearing – ‘Themes’ [Lillerne Tape Club]
Benoit Pioulard – ‘Violette’ [Disques d’Honoré]
36 & Awakened Souls – ‘The Other Side of Darkness’ [PITP]
Goldmund – ‘The Time It Takes’ [Western Vinyl]
Кино – Любовь — ‘Это Не Шутка’ [Maschina Records]
Burial + Four Tet + Thom Yorke – ‘Her Revolution/His Rope’ [XL]
Illuvia – ‘Iridescence Of Clouds’ [A Stranged Isolated Place]
Khotin – ‘Finds You Well’ [Ghostly International]
Amulets – ‘Blooming’ [forthcoming on The Flenser]
Laraaji – ‘The Piano Trilogy’ [All Saints]
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
I think this is love from early childhood. First of all, my Daddy turned on music on reel to reels from my first days of birth – Queen , Depeche Mode etc. I think I remember this noise at the end of the reel. Later, when I was 8-12 years old, my brother and his friend were preparing for a village disco by recording mixtapes – they connected 2 Soviet cassette recorders with a cord – magic! When they turned away, I loved to press on the body of the cassette during playback and the sound changed – and all this is love forever.
Oleksandr Demianenko – ‘Indian memories and captured radio waves’ (RTR039) releases in full March 29th via Rusted Tone Recordings.