Amen Orchestra – 17 Waves (Art-Tek)


Amen Orchestra - 17 Waves

When Russian electronica fought its way into the ears of those outside the former superpower in 2000 with EU’ Wienn/Sez 7” on Bristol label Pause_2, it paved the way for what promised to be some genuinely exciting electronic music. While some artists delivered on this hope we all had of a fresh look at electronica, the deluge of quality music that initially seemed so certain never appeared. Now five years later, and after a break of two years since they last released a record, Moscow based Art-Tek records have released an album that fulfils all that early promise and more.

Predictably, Amen Orchestra is a man and his computer, but the sounds produced on 17 Waves are so much more than what has come before. Like Venetian Snares’ Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett, the album combines electronica with traditional classical. Unlike Rossz… though, more than a viola is used in conjunction with the electronics and this works exceptionally well. By allowing a greater range of instruments, 17 Waves uses this to drive the electronics in many tracks, creating some truly wonderful music.

For a debut album, the level of skill displayed here is outstanding. What can only be termed the “beat fuckery’ that is displayed here is mindblowing. While Amen Orchestra do rely on the amen break quite heavily, the sophistication with which it is deployed more than justifies the use. Tracks like “Noan Ame 17′ combines 200+bpm breaks with some hauntingly ambient strings, the result being a bizarrely relaxing track despite the near-nuclear level breaks assault.

My first thoughts on hearing this album is that it must be a well known artist releasing under a pseudonym, but this genuinely appears to be created by a previously unknown Russian. If this were by Aphex Twin or U-Ziq, it would be hailed a masterpiece, the next evolution in electronica. As it stands, this is simply a breathtakingly good album, setting the benchmark by which everything that follows must be judged.

Released January 2006.


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