Vital Weekly about Askanian Virgin

Edward Sol & Anla Courtis "Askanian Virgin" CD

[wiki:] “In physical geography, a steppe is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes”. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, you’ll find lots of those; in Argentina, the Patagonia area is well known. There are more locations, but Ukraine and Argentina are the important ones for our story. It’s the place where Edward Sol and Anla Courtis made their field recordings. Sol writes that “both are unusual places to get some interesting field recordings”, but here ‘Patagonia Winds” by Francisco Lopez sprang to mind. These places are empty, in which the wind has free reign. In the south of Ukraine there is the last spot of the European virginal steppe known as “Askania Nova”, which lend the title to this release. Two pieces, less than thirteen minutes each. Do I need to spell out that this makes me most unhappy? Especially given the excellent quality of the music here. Anla Courtis is pretty straightforward regarding drones, field recordings and building things up. Going from not too quiet but reasonably spaced out, building to a mighty fine, well-expanded drone piece, in which we detect animals, wind, the crackling of wood and much wind over a barren plain. Edward Sol’s music (I am not entirely sure to what extent they worked on each other sounds, I’m going by the respective credits on the CD) is more of a mystery for me. His sounds are obscured once more, taken a bit further, transformed a little bit more, and their impact is even more significant. When the first half dies out, we are left in desolation, and slowly the music is as quiet as a campfire. The wind howls around, and the flames lick the wood. Now here’s quite some suspense going on. Both pieces are great, but it is Edward Sol’s piece that is the winner here. Spooky and unearthly stuff is going in here. This released also has great cover art. Support this release and this label and end the war in Ukraine. (FdW)