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Total Station: Live At Radio Weimar

Choosing a topic for a concept album is never an easy decision, however in the case of Total Station, who hail from St. Petersburg in Russia, it would appear to have been an obvious decision. The band, who at the time were a duo comprising of Vladimir Kabanov (tone generators/synthesizers/effects) and Michael Ogorodov (keyboards/effects) have used GOELRO, which was an abbreviation for what translates into "State Commission for Electrification of Russia" as the loose concept for this long piece of music, which is broken down into six movements. Considering the electronic music that Total Station creates, it is easy to see why they would be inspired by this moment in their country's history.

There are no lyrics on this album, however that is what makes their chosen subject such a simple, yet inspired decision, the collection of synth, keyboard and tone generator noise conjures up the image of exploration and experimentation that the trail-blazers on the commission must have felt. There is nothing in the way of rhythm, or standard song structure on this album, although very occasionally some huge chords are struck by the keyboards, but these fleeting moments would appear to signify small triumphs in the music, rather than actually attempt to create a hook, or easy access point. What is present in abundance is a dark oppressive atmosphere which is punctuated with electronic squeals and howls that when you are in the correct frame of mind makes for compelling if slightly one dimensional listening. The music never flows as such - instead a constant battle is fought between the disparate noises and effects for supremacy, while in the background there is usually a softer under current that unobtrusively keeps everything together.

Quite impressively the album itself, which opens with radio static and a very officious sounding statement, was recorded during a live performance for Germany's Radio Weimar, which with the complexity and the Spartan nature of the sounds suggests that this was no mean feat and I'm sure made for compelling listening.

Live At Radio Weimar is the sort of album that requires your undivided attention to really make any impact; in fact casual listens are virtually pointless due to the vast array of subtle textures that can only really be heard properly in isolation, or through a pair of headphones. Any attempt I made to listen to this album under other circumstances led to me forgetting that it was playing at all. Don't take that as a dismissive statement though, as when, or indeed if you remove everything else and concentrate on the sounds created by this pair the results are rather rewarding.


Track Listing
1. Prototype
2. Vladimir Lenin
3. Whole Country
4. February 21, 1920
5. GOELRO
6. Modern Technology

Added: August 13th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Total Station MySpace
Hits: 1002
Language: english

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