Akashvani (Album Reviews)
A Review by Mark Dmowski (from Higher Love)
'Akashvani !' (Hindu word = 'message from heaven') is a third album from Soviet Space Bat. As the artist himself states in interviews, this double album is his most firm statement to date, a voice of someone who found his palette of tools and now with confidence typical for established acts wants to play with them. This is not just collection of songs, but rather a musical journey, radio broadcast
at 3AM or a soundtrack to the movie not created yet. After two albums consisting mostly exploration of his own personality, Soviet Space Bat leaves his cave and faces the outside world.
All starts with 'Akashvani 1800 kHz' - 10 minute collage of reversed sounds and voices speaking
different languages, including English and Russian. Funny noises from outer space sound like
Radiohead from their 'Kid A / Amnesiac' period.
After the intro comes 'Toska', which can be perceived as some kind of tribute to the 80's Soviet
Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, 'perestroika' and 'glasnost'. This tune with its catchy, marching rhythm,
melodies which sound like from 'Fisher Price' toy keyboard is the proper starter for 'Akashvani !'.
'Szabadsag' (Hungarian word = 'freedom') is an interesting, schizophrenic interlude.
Where this freedom will take us? Instead enjoying this, we feel lost and full of doubts.
'Give Me Red' brings back balance with its straight rhythm and simple melody.
Story of Erika Verofa, a revolutionary fighter from Hungary.
'Crimson Crescent' is another 'pause' moment. Driven by delicate piano
and layered vocals.
'Eastern Skies' is a nice surprise. Begins with arpeggiated, disco-like piano and then takes us to
East Asia. Yes, we 'release the anchor' and go for a short journey.
'The Calm Before The Storm' - distant rhythm, weird and tense atmosphere.
'silence is not peace'.
After this another short interlude 'Weather Warnings'. Title explains everything.
'Reedy River', this dreamy tune, for a while, takes us away from civilisation. We slowly swim on the
boat, down the river. Very good sounding, arranged and performed.
'Der Feind' (German word = 'enemy'). An interlude trying to emphasise pre-war paranoia.
'Interruption Message' is just a dialogue between two characters inside SSB mind.
Introduction of Dr Fladermaus.
'Transcend' is a first song which drew my attention when skipping through the tracks. Hit single,
rhythmic tune, heavily inspired by 80s music, bands like Human League or early Depeche Mode.
'Astrology' - 9-minute journey through the stars and 20th Century.
'A Spatial Request' is a very interesting idea of placing an old song within the new content . 'The
Drone Never Drowns' comes from the first album and here is presented in form of live performance
for 'high pitching aliens'.
Next track, 'Guerilla Warfare' kicks off with naive, 'boom boxy', marching rhythm, which is combined
with aggressively sounding synthesisers. War is our passion,
war is our life, so let's live the war till we die.
'Breaking The Barricades' is a reprise and extended version of 'Der Feind'.
'Driven By Hunger' is a power synth pop tune with simple message. Author no longer describes, no
longer despairs, but wants us to stand up and fight with the evil of this world.
'New Horizons' is a spoken intro before the final composition, an outro called 'M.C.C.C.P'. The last
tune is a collage of some Russian television or radio broadcast combined with repetitive industrial
rhythm and other voices.
As for October 2014, this is the best album from Soviet Space Bat, in terms of musical content and
production. Despite the fact, that I went through 20 (!) tracks, I got the feeling that there are less fillers than on just 8-songs release 'While Jill Sleeps'. Songs are generally shorter, which is good for them. Whole content is more communicative than on
the past works. It gives the listener: pictures, ideas, unanswered questions. Provokes to analyse the
lyrical content, which can be found in quite impressive booklet. Music is more diverse, arrangements are more developed and in some moments even surprised me. Yes, I can wholeheartedly recommend this product to everyone regardless if he / she is a fan of Pink Floyd or Sex Pistols.
Sounds brutally experimental. Anyway, as a pure artistic piece it probably has good lyrics and words which the Soviet Space Bat seems to have skill with. Music wise this is quite avante grade or some really niche genre which I don't see going to a wider audience, so I assume its made just for the artist's own expression.
Wow, mind blown. It's like a film.
Puppets of Time (Album Reviews)
'Puppets Of Time' is a debut album from the artist known to the world as Soviet Space Bat. Soviet Space Bat is a one man band consisting a guy from Mumbai, India who resides in UK -Ajit Menon. He is a big fan of The Cure, 80s pop and a person with a strange perception of music. All of this can be heard on 'Puppets Of Time'.
This 6 songs collection starts from the instrumental tune called 'A Silent Movie'. As the title suggests, this composition belongs to the genre: 'silent movies soundtracks'. It could work very well as a background music for any movie from 20s. Instrumentation is dominated by piano, we can also hear some bells.Without seeing the picture, we can see it, emotions, probably struggle of the character on the screen, maybe even chase scene or someone being murdered without making a sound. I remember how jealous I was of it, at least until the moment when I composed my own 'silent movie' song - 'A Moment Of Creation'.
Next one 'Misty Morning' gives us a minor change of mood. It is a beautiful chill out tune, with Ajit's soothing vocals. Morning here is not a depressive start of the day, grey, still dark, cold. This song is a statement of person who enjoys mornings, probably free man, who do not have to go to work at that time. Instead of being forced to start another day, he can go out and enjoy this real world impressionist painting.
'Whispers Stay Forever' is a first disappointment. This is a song, which has very good structure, interesting verse and chorus. 'Whispers' could easily become an anthem, a promo single for the whole compilation. I can even see an accompanying video, a guy playing keyboard and staring at the lake. Unfortunately, all this potential is destroyed with bad production. Apart from that, with all my empathy to the artist who needs to perform for 5-6 minutes, instead of being squashed into 3:30-4 minutes format, this one here lasting for 7 minutes can simply bore inpatient listener.
'The Orphans'. Very minimalistic composition. One instrument, one vocal, one big reverb. Reminds me a bit Dead Can Dance, especially when melodic chorus appears. Still, I pray for this song to be finished earlier or develop in some way. 5 minutes of the same stuff that is too much for me.
With 'Drone Never Drowns', I finally get what I wanted. A powerful, sinister tune, very good for live performances. Clock is ticking and has its meaning. Our days are numbered ? Musically 'Drone' is SSB's interpretation of Krautrock stuff. Rhythm and vocals remind me a bit of Can and Damo Suzuki singing in his abstractive and apocalyptic manner. The arrangement is changing, we have distinctive chorus and then 'conclusion'.
Final song - instrumental 'Puppets Of Time'. There are two versions of this tune. I am the lucky one who owns the first, better one and I will be giving my feedback on this only. It starts with reverberant, 'shy' bass, but we are not fully awake. The moment of consciousness starts with delicate but annoying high-pitching, ringing tone, like from old mobile phone. The dream is over, time to finish singing about 'misty mornings','whispers','orphans' or even 'drones'.
We are just 'puppets of time', we pretend we are unique and strong, but most of our efforts are desperate, senseless and do not possess great value when facing merciless time passing by. Years, centuries and eras disappear with us into the black hole of oblivion.
Concluding my review I must say, that I really like the musical content, maybe with exception of 'The Orphans' and 'Whispers Stay Forever'. It is a good debut, but very badly produced. With today's standards and technology available to everyone, it could have been done better.
- Mark Dmowski, Singer-songwriter, Drummer and Founding Member of Higher Love
A Review by Thomas Ward
Great stuff, not easy to listen to but very good. Soviet Space Bat's name mirrors his music. Mysterious, cinematic, menacing and packed with intrigue. You feel like you're in the sound track to an unsettling cold war documentary revealing conditions and corrupt back-room dealings and betrayals. Film score music. This is a man very much on his own trip, with no sense of towing the line to his time. Music that feels instinctual, truly personal and uninhibited by trends or traditional musical structures. 'Whispers Stay Forever' is a personal favourite, with a delicate harmony and 60s / psychedelic feel. Think early Pink Floyd on an acid trip in space. Also, one of the best live acts I've seen for pure performance beyond self interest.
- Thomas Ward, Voice-over Artist and Comedian, UK
While Jill Sleeps... (Album Reviews)
On my birthday, I was given a nice gift from my friend Ajit. Nicely packed CD, with good looking blue booklet with lyrics and 'thank you' notes, Soviet Space Bat's second album is called 'While Jill Sleeps'.
After fighting my own laziness and lack of motivation for this task, finally I have decided to write few words about it. I consider this worthless, because I am almost 100 % sure that even ten stars from me will not free my friend from being a slave of daytime job. Such review from someone like me, having almost no influence on the London market is just a nice gesture, but let's do it.
The album starts with the title track which is an instrumental composition. First impression I get when listening to it is similarity with The Cure's 'A Reflection' from 'Seventeen Seconds'. I do not say it is a rip off, but rather a mood, that characteristic repetition of key notes.
Then comes 'The Image Hunter'. It starts in similar, soothing way like 'Misty Morning' (from SSB debut). In contrast to the song from 'Puppets Of Time', it does not develop, not appeal to me, sounds like a weaker version of the composition from the first album.
'Drifting From My Shadows'. Interesting intro, reminding some hippy psychedelia from 60s, but then…I am very sorry to say that, but this is another portion of boredom.
'Night Vision Through Unread Eyes'. Some twisted, psychedelically happy ideas but then all those good elements are badly combined. Additionally to make a final impact even less interesting, everything is drowned in deep reverb, which simply does not work here. Not through the entire song.
'Scriptures'. Very long instrumental intro and then processed vocal, foley sounds, lots of foley. But looking on that from the songwriter perspective it is hard to listen !
'Reality Bites'. What a relief ! I dare say that this tune is a hit single from this album. Finally strong rhythm, very characteristic for Soviet Space Bat. Good melody and great pop arrangement shining from under experimental instrumentation.
'Iodine'. Good one. This is a very old tune, played by SSB during his first gigs. Lyrically very personal song about dying family member, comforted by 'iodine'.
Final - 'Life In Another Frame'. Over 17 minutes of pretentious 'avantgardism', rather more collage than a song. Probably inspired by soundtrack to 'Airlock', an 'underrated masterpiece' from The Cure's 'truly mad' period. If you can stand the whole thing, then you should know that you are real SSB fan !
Concluding, 'While Jill Sleeps' is even more introverted than SSB debut 'Puppets Of Time'.
It is much better produced that the first album, but musically much weaker, when comparing to the 'Puppets Of Time'. We are witnessing here a 'syndrome of the second album'. Crucial elements of the SSB sound are retained and thanks to better production are more recognisable. Keytar characteristic sound, that drum machine. We are starting to identify them as the ones who define this artist.
After the first album, I became a fan of all the unwanted? noises present in the songs. Clock ticking, rain sounds, wind, house noises, probably someone in the kitchen prepares food etc. It makes those monotonous compositions more intrigue, gives them another, hidden dimension.
Paradoxically, the biggest weakness of 'While Jill Sleeps' is too much artistic freedom. That results in the content, which is a way too long and let say it straight: for most of the time boring. Censorship and limitations in small doses were always beneficial elements for the artists and their work.
-Mark Dmowski, Singer-songwriter, Drummer and Founding Member of Higher Love
- It's November 9th 2012 around 10 a.m. and I've just finished listening to 'While Jill Sleeps...' in its entirety and just had an urge to write a review. It is possibly the finest example of minimalist expression which I've ever heard. Although I really don't want to pigeon hole it into a category, trance and rave are in there too. Mostly though it really touched my heart with its simple poignancy, its raw pain, its beautiful ethereal qualities and its ability to evoke that which is normally hidden. Not everyone will get it- especially those who don't want to open their ears beyond popular music forms (but it's their choice and we wish them well. We're all music lovers and music has different meaning for everyone...it's personal). This music spoke to me and is like no other. On those rare occasions when I truly feel that my own music has spoken to someone or really touched someone, I know a spell has been cast and I'm grateful for that one moment of intimacy. This music is indescribably intimate. Soviet Space Bat is a brave and stunning artist. On this album, he bears his soul, dares to be himself and gives life and voice to the beauty of the shadows.
- Mary Sutcliffe, Director of Events, Parlour Party, London, UK
- What a work of genius, the CD... awesome. Unfortunately, I haven't given the disc a spin yet but the album inlay art and lyrics really blew me away. It's really fantastic, home spun but looks like a serious work of art. Can't wait to hear it right about now.
- The Hammer of God, School of Arts, Design & Architecture, Aalto TAIK, Helsinki, Finland
- I love the Soviet Space Bat and his music and managed to wangle an album off him. It’s truly not what I expected – slow development, simple in structure – complex in understanding – insane in its concept – testing in its arrangement – wonderful in its own right. Much less mad than his live shows – but that too should be expected. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it's not over produced – it’s the Bat doing his thing the way he wants to do it.
Before I go out clubbing – no
While I’m having my dinner – no
During making love – no
In the morning whilst having cereal – no
On my headphones on my way to work - no
Driving? No way
In weirdo geeky clubs – yes
In underground chill out venues – yes
Live in East London – yes
In a film score where the hero is at cross with heroine – yes!
This is not an album to please the masses – there’s no reason it should be. This is designed to hone in and define a very specific sound and command a particular audience. It’s a great second album, get over the preconceptions you have about music, what you think is right and wrong and give this a blast. You may just love it. Plus, I heard that most of this was recorded in Audacity - hats off to the Soviet Space Bat!
- Bob Loyal from the UK based Alternative Pop-rock /Electronic/Fusion band- The Ferocious Ladoos