Sonic Router 021: Stanislav Sevostyanikhin Puts Things Into Kontext
, July 12th, 2011 09:40
For this month's Sonic Router, Oli Marlow talks to Russian producer Stanislav Sevostyanikhin, aka Kontext
In a digital landscape that's fast becoming dominated by having the newest word first, it's inevitable that a writer will regularly repeat themselves; stumbling over past phrases to further underline a point made in association to a different artist. Well, over the course of this column I've harped on continually about artists being individuals, people who create a sonic world that is completely their own and, in the simplest form, that's what this column is about: higlighting the producers that make something different, something that's of absolute stylistic merit.
Take Kontext for example. He's a Russian producer who has quietly been releasing some of the broodiest, minimal dubstep related music on the Bristol based Immerse label. Over his handful of 12"s and a vinyl only album called Dissociate, he's ventured so heavily into a sound that's propelled by subtlety that it really is possible to recognise his work within 60 seconds of hearing a track. The way he uses little flickers of colour and samples to gently lift the attention away from the omnipresent bassweight is truly delightful, as his sense of groove.
"I think it takes more time for people to really appreciate this album," Stanislav Sevostyanikhin tells me over email of Dissociate. "It's full of fine details and as such it's a pretty hard work to understand."
Frankly, the same thing goes for all of his work. He also produces drum 'n' bass that shares the undulating sense of less being more under the Dissident moniker, but here I'm talking specifically about the material included on his new 2CD compilation, one that's simply titled Kontext. Containing new and old music, it's a collected work that spans four or so years of releases. Less of a throwaway 'best of', it's a release that makes complete sense when you listen to it as a whole - especially when you consider that Dissociate never saw a release on the compact format. The compilation is an exemplary exercise in his cold micro rhythms, forever powered by the tensely coiled basslines that never seem to cut loose, hanging on to every milligram of melodrama with every morsel of their being.
"It's the best of the greatest hits," Kontext jokes, the broken English almost amplifying the humour. "I guess the main reason for putting out this compilation was Adam Kidkut [proprietor of Immerse] and his desire to release an album as a CD format - something Immerse hasn't done before. I can't really say that it's 'a look back' [at my discography] because there is a lot of fresh material included; the double CD also contains four exclusive tunes that you won't find anywhere else."
Existing solely as a microcosm, a galaxy within itself, Sevostyanikhin's work soothes and wraps you up in its bass tones, warming and welcoming you, something that might be a quality inherent to his home surroundings in the Western half of Russia.
"In today's global world there is no real difference in where you live or where you don't," he ponders when asked directly if his home life a local scene inspire his spacious blend of styles. "Nowadays information technologies have made modern music the cosmopolitan phenomenon, but there are a lot of galaxy-class artists in my country - though the audience for it is far from exquisite. I hope that it's only the beginning. I see a lot of enthusiasts who promote the electronic music scene here in general, especially in Moscow, Siberia and my hometown, St. Petersburg."
In talking to him it's obvious that he's only really concerned with making music. The jagged and impersonal nature of our conversation leaves me shrouding him in even more of an air of confused mystery, but I'm a thousand per cent content with that fact. I didn't want him to be a vocal and opinionated sod; his music is too gentile and mature for that. It's the visions his work inspires that I'd rather hold onto.
"BPM[s] was never important for me to be honest," he tells me in typically blunt fashion. "I'm more concerned that the speed or rhythm is in harmony with the basic idea." And in listening to his work even now, after investing a good week getting lost in the drones of 'Sattva' and the pulsing funk of tracks like 'Plumes,' I'm listening even deeper for all the little pauses and the nuances that rumble below the surface. Whether working at a slowed up house tempo or at a UK obsessed 130bpm, Kontext populates his music with an intelligent minimalism that draws the most out of his simple layers - 'Falling To Weightlessness', for example, is just a Murcof style noise kit, played frantically over a three note pad line whilst the subs rumble, often inaudibly, yet it's drops are some of the most arresting you'll hear in the context of his production.
Everything fits a mood, albeit an edgy anxious sort of mindstate, and Sevostyanikhin's uniqueness as a producer remains in this soundset. 'Egosurfing' is built out of the same busy synth quagmire but it jumps out from the rest because it's such a swollen and impressionable thing. It's kind of special to consider how it can hit you so hard when it's so measured and built so simply; and for me that's one of the marks of a fantastic talent.
Kontext's Kontext is out now through Immerse Records.
DOWNLOAD: Kontext – Sonic Router Mix #91
Kontext – 'Inracranial Vintage Radio (Immerse)'
Kontext – 'Thaw (Subtle Audio)'
Kontext – 'Soyuz-Apollo [instrumental] (Immerse)'
Dissident feat. Liza Gotfrik – 'Ketaminechick (Dub)'
Dissident – 'Stumble, Please! (Respect)'
Kontext – 'Jumping into the Void (Dub)'
Kontext – 'Egosurfing (Immerse)'
Kontext – 'Strangelet (Dub)'
Kontext – 'Daphnia Pulex (Immerse)'
Kontext feat. Liza Gotfrik – 'Kukla klone klown (Dub)'
Kontext – 'Cabbage Bugs (Dub)'
Kontext – 'The Night of the Sweaty Knives (Dub)'
Cyberworm feat. Kontext – 'Jenna (Audioboutique)'
Kontext – 'Hometown Swamp [Remix] (Immerse)'
Words: Oli Marlow for Sonic Router