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Reviews
Various Artists - Letters from the Front
Monday, November 06 2006 @ 04:38 PM PST
Contributed by: symbolique

Letters from the Front

Artist: Various Artists

Title: Letters from the Front

Label: The Eastern Front Israel

Genre: Experimental Ambient

The doctrine of the Second World War continues to prove magnetic for artists and listeners across the spectrum of dark ambient and martially inspired anthems and sullen dirges and this third release from The Eastern Front pushes the ‘world’ in that particular war by cultivating a Russian-inspired entablature. Liner notes from descendents dedicate the album to their forefathers who fought against the Nazi invasion from the West during the ‘Great Patriotic War’, with ‘Letters from the Front’ as a memorialization of the 61st Anniversary of success over Nazi Germany. Four projects contribute to the thematic production; Silence & Strength, Westwind, Storm of Capricorn and Neon Rain sliding tween each other across the twenty-three tracks and seventy minutes of post-war reflection.

Unlike most compilations, on this album the contributing artists adopt a mercurial inveigling to orient harmony with the many tracks that are purely Russian war-time hymns of patriotic spirit or assemblages of speeches from Stalin, et al. The album begins with a speech by Molotov announcing the invading German armies into the Soviet Union and ends with a radio broadcast by Levitan colourlessly proclaiming victory over Germany. Between these bookends nestles a conglomeration of rasping vinyl and radio tracks and modern tenanting, which is far from a subsidy to the output. Westwind’s questing march is one of a solemnity befitting a new conscript to a fresh front, the drumming relentless as distant shells, inscrutable electronics adorn a soundscape deliquescing flesh, mud and snow into a morass of redolent loss of life, but not of spirit. Sinuous is Storm of Capricorn’s bestowal of Russian elegy, dilating traditional folk and prose. Neon Rain draw vocals into their industrial phalanx of chariots with shattered axles and broken spokes, radiating doleful beauty. The dark occlusion of Silence & Strength finds ambient umbrage with oceanic pacing of silken orchestral strings and the splayed surrounds of tanks, cavernous reverb, and haunted recitations, lacquered acoustic guitar.

Also included in this release is near twenty-minute full colour of the Victory Parade in Moskov’s Red Square in June of 1945, a vast procession of horses, tanks, arms and armour in grainy shaky detail.

Unusual design sets off this release, a folded heavy stock paper A3 sheet folds origami to a right-angle triangular letter as per sent to those on the front during the war. Cursive script, postal markers, and Cyrillic text stamped under the liner notes on both sides of the sheet lends the whole package with an authenticity of detail. Inserted into the central cornice along with the CDR is a printed photograph of an authentic original of Soviet officers drinking victory (the rear of the photograph bears the file name victory.jpg which unfortunately creases the genuine attempt of aesthetic recreation).

     



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