Lumisokea – Transmissions from Revarsavr

Lumisokea are today at the forefront of a very intriguing and exciting development in electronic music. At a time when this music can be segregated into two categories: a formulaic beat-orientated dance rendering of dance music; or a purely machine improvised variation tied to Jazz and Classical music; Lumisokea have for some time now been cultivating a sound that falls into neither category and yet manages to edge the gap closer to these vastly opposing musical styles. With eight releases behind them through music that can go from the expressive Concrét-dub compositions of Eavesdropping on Pianist to last year’s subtle and cinematically orchestrated Mnesomyne, Lumisokea are not particularly dependent on a singular style. Rather they call on something more akin to a conceptual framework to tie the music together and their latest release, Transmissions from Revarsavr continues to build on the concepts behind their work.

Calling on their predilection for the Soviet avant gardist of the twentieth century transposed to the technologies of the 21st, Lumisokea once again find form in the tumultuous bottomless chasm of electronic music’s possibilities with textures and tonalities born from alien sources that fall into place amongst recognisable themes and patterns from our shared musical history. There’s something tangible to this music, something like Shostakovich being able to conform to the traditions of Socialist needs through the music of the future. Lumisokea appear to have the same frame of mind at work, but where a political ideology is absent there is certainly nothing to conform to, so Lumisokea’s only ambition appears to be in finding a unifying universal language in the music, one that won’t repel the uninitiated and might even change a few open-minds to the more adventurous experimental forms of this music. What gestates in the primordial ooze of wayward experimentalism is refined in the torrential terrain of uniform musical qualities and puts Lumisokea’s music apart from a good section of their contemporaries.

Lumisokea’s music can still be approached at face value where contrapuntal percussive works, sub bass drawls and machines that seem to breathe with the ferocity of a new machine age. Peeling back those layers however can also reveal intriguing Easter eggs for the more inquisitive listener. Transmissions from Revarsavr only reveals these hidden surprises when you delve into the back-story of its creation and learn Lumisokea used Vladimir Popov’s “Noise Instruments” – remarkable mechanical contraptions from the 1920’s to imitate the sounds of the coming industrial era ­– as the groundwork for its inception. Transmissions from Revarsavr however is an inverted version of Popov’s music, and takes place in an environment where the industrial age has given way to a digital one as cars get quieter; mechanical processes are further displaced out of earshot; and the loudest sound you’ll hear in a cosmopolitan city is the distant vibrating thump of an electronic kick drum. It’s only when you hear a song like Uroboros, and with the knowledge of how a track like that came to be, that you hear the reference to an industrial age we’ve long forgotten. As echoes of Popov’s machines peak through the more subtly orchestrated tracks like Buk and Engrams the “noise instruments” retire to make way for a quieter, subtler language through it’s digital processes. The faint church bell ringing towards the rear of Buk acts like the last bell tolling for our industrial age with Lumisokea directing our attention to the subtler landscape of experimental electronic music in our modern age.

Does it say something of our general contrasting view of noise in the 21st century? Perhaps, but it’s not necessary to consider in the face of the music, and enjoying this music at a superficial level, is just as remarkable as the tantalising cultural questions it raises that’s buried deep towards its most fundamental core. Perhaps there is some social commentary there, but at the same time I sense they also apply a very theoretical language to their music where something like the building of tension through the opening track, reveal a very calculated and ordered musical construction to their work, and possibly also the reason for its universal allure. After eight releases, we’ve come to know what to expect from the group whenever they release something, and somehow there’s always a subtle surprise waiting for us on the other end. This record is no different and Lumisokea delivers a work that astounds on various levels yet again. Transmissions from Revarsavr has all the ingredients of a Lumisokea record: the contrapuntal percussion, the big low-end and great accessible form. And yet, compared to the last record, there is quite a difference too. There’s something more industrial about Transmissions from Revarsavr, but an industrial aesthetic that has come to the end of its existence as organic materials start breaking down the harsh tonalities for something rounder and softer around the edges. It certainly showcases an artistic voice that has something significant to say in the modern electronic music landscape for anybody with a vague interest in this music.