Review: Jelena Glazova + Marta SmiLga – Split

Jelena - Marta SmiLga CoverI take so much from Jelena Glazova’s notion that her music, generated primarily from manipulated vocal sounds, is a form of “expressing unpronounced speech”. These phonemes are more than just abstracted sonic shapes. They are momentary moulds of the mouth that made them, spat out in three dimensional negatives like impressions on wet clay: some ovular in sigh, some crushed like tongue against teeth, all refracted through FX that shroud each shape in crinkled foil (distortion) and obfuscating blurs (echo). Even when the manipulation is fantastical and thick, I can hear the tide of the breath running through everything, powering those rumbling winds of exhalation and warped tape and feedback, or leaking out in hisses of sibilance, or riding the mantric hums that crumble under phaser and overdrive. These are the words that fall into the margins of the spoken. I imagine that Glazova is expressing those modern sentiments with which language has yet to keep pace, using FX to craft new plosives and consonant clacks where the existing palette won’t suffice, transcending the capabilities of the purely organic apparatus of throat and teeth and tongue. It’s possible that, amidst our present state of planetary disarray, the only way to produce a groan or scream that truly channels the extent of our exasperation is to amplify it through artificial means.

With the transition to side two, we switch from internal unknowns and extremes to those at the rim of the explored universe: departing the domain of a human essence too pure to communicate, arriving at a periphery whose utter lack of human presence renders it virtually unfathomable. Marta SmiLga crafts an open space without any notions of up, down or sideways: intersecting spirals of synthesiser that become trapped within their own logic and kernels of time, contradicting eachother in terms of speed and tonality while somehow existing coherently. It’s a quantum swirl of yes and no, of present and not, of disappearance and emergence. The movement is constant. Repetition is everywhere, but it’s never exact; moments are refracted through replay, with arpeggiating patterns sliding out of chronological parallel and spatial form as they return to me again and again. This gravity-defiant activity occurs within a basin tectonic feedback, like modes of reality groaning as they rub against eachother. Yet despite the depth of these low frequencies, they fail to provide any anchorage or sense of orientation. I spend the compositions 22 minutes feeling utterly placeless, occupying an alien zone that I have no basis for understanding or articulating. Except, perhaps, through Jelena Glazova’s array of unpronounced speech.