2018 - A False Memory of a Sports Party
There aren't many composers who would think to draw inspiration from pioneering memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus, but then again there aren't many composers with the imagination and original sensibility of Rudi Arapahoe.
Musically, the slow-moving, ponderous pieces exude a synthetic quality that's both ethereal, ominous, and surreal. Low- and high-pitched synthesizer tones imbue the material with a smooth plastic sheen reminiscent of the ‘80s and ‘90s, while the voices are often blurred by various treatments, making their utterances sometimes difficult to decipher and adding to the unreliability of the reportage.
A False Memory of a Sports Party is unlike most other releases... what at first glance appears to be a cassette but is, in fact, a cartridge housing a USB stick. Such sleight-of-hand is in keeping, of course, with notions of unreliability and deception that are at the very core of the project.
Wrapped in a dense concept of ideas, memories, and artificial intelligence, A False Memory Of A Sports Party is a kaleidoscopic work of synth tones, sporadic rhythms and abstract progressions.
The music is sparse, incidental in nature, and often challenging for a casual listening, but fans of experimental sound propelled forth by Oneohtrix Point Never, Tim Hecker, and Ben Frost as well as aleatoric and algorithmic composition, will find themselves at home.
Arapahoe has created an intriguing, multifaceted work that cannot be contained solely in sound, but that is pretty much a multimedia installation you can play at your own home. It’s got myriad angles from which to look at, its suggestions of memory distortions and implants an exciting, complex exercise of thought and imagination.
2016 - False Self
The six pieces... are decidedly eerie in atmosphere, hovering like phantoms unsure of their next life. The song titles 'Mechanical Mask', 'Petrification Phastasy' and 'Ice Carnival' offer a vivid glimpse of the soundworlds mapped out and available to explore. Sustained tones bleed out into '80s reverb. Struck metal shimmers and blooms. The spaces between the sounds are as important as the sounds themselves.
False Self turns out to be rather consistent stylistically with Arapahoe's previous output. Its understatedly macabre material plays like a soundtrack for an imaginary horror film with the most violent musical passages omitted and only the interstitial, scene-setting sections included. Imagine the foreboding music a composer might have created for a scene showing a search party scouring woods before locating the maggot-ridden corpse. Arapahoe's is like that, minus the fortissimo wail that would have punctuated the body's discovery.
Flute tones and synthesizer textures interweave with percussion accents for nine ultra-atmospheric minutes during “It Becomes You,” which effectively establishes the tone of the material, even if the dread dimension is only hinted at in this mournful overture. That unsettling aura of disturbance begins to assert itself in the subsequent “Mechanical Mask” when glassy strings shudder on high and acoustic piano notes meander through a miasma of fog and almost inaudible surface noise. But while Vazquez's bass clarinet adds to the despairing ambiance of “Chaste,” the elegant ambient-electronic drift of “Ice Carnival” guides the recording out on a slightly sunnier note, similar to how music accompanying a horror film's closing credits might do the same.
Arapahoe's electroacoustic settings generally creep along at an unwavering glacial tempo, and speaking of miasma, False Self's dark ambient would have been a perfect fit for Erik Skodvin's Miasmah label had Arapahoe not chosen to self-release it. Interestingly, in not having the most hypothetically extreme passages included, the material might be even more unsettling, for the simple reason that the usual catharsis the violent passages offer is here denied. The tension seldom eases, leaving the listener's subtly frayed nerves consistently on edge.
2008 - Echoes from One to Another
A poetic fusion of classical and electronic musics, Echoes From One To Another sounds like what might result were Akira Rabelais, Arvo Pärt, and The Balustrade Ensemble to spend a month collaborating at a studio in some ancient and secluded castle.
The Silent Ballet
The first verifiable hit from the Japanese Symbolic Interaction imprint, Rudi Arapahoe's Echoes from One to Another is a remarkable avant-classical work.
It is impossible to do Echoes From One To Another any favour in just a few words, such is the scope of the project and the mastery of the execution, and one can only partially lift the veil on a piece of work which keeps on revealing new facets with each new listen.
Although divided into tracks, the only song that really stands out to my ears is "Conversation Piece", which reminds me of a dozen other songs that I can't quite put my finger on. A bewitching female vocal snakes around the throb of a bass drum, while piano and guitar delicately weave simple, iridescent patterns. Stunning.
Arapahoe plays the roles of conductor and composer, utilizing field recordings and antique electronics, while directing a collective of musicians who engage instruments including harp, violin and vintage synthesizers. The effect is somewhat remarkable, as Arapahoe weaves a fabric of forgotten sounds, fusing nocturnal ambiences with noir-classical instrumentation and echo-dappled folk. The fleeting elfin-chanteuse vocals of Kaithlin Howard only add to the mystique surrounding this release. 9/10
This is just a monstrously brilliant album. I had no idea what to expect as I hadn't heard anything from it at all and when I put it on it just blew me away.
RAVEN SINGS THE BLUES
Mixing decayed field recordings with lonesome piano and vocal passages; Rudi Arapahoe creates ghostly, melancholic worlds of dream and hallucination.
A masterful mix of classical, electronics, field recordings and poetry.
As Eve Basilides opens up with strumming of the harp, a distant lo-fi hiss transposes you into a surreal world of shadows and broken dreams. By the time Kaithlin Howard's voice breaks through the reverb and lightly touched piano chords I begin to wonder if the imagery is indeed from my long lost memory. Rudi Arapahoe's spellbinding soundscapes accompany my daydreams into a world of modern classical and magical realism.
Comparisons to Arvo Pärt don't quite seem representative, but they certainly point in the right direction, namely towards a style of zero frills and all emotional directness. You can call it "Classical Ambient," "Skull-Fucking" or even "Spherical Neoclassical Dreamscapes". But "Art" will do just fine as well.
Arapahoe's great mastery appears to be in sound design; raking in piano, guitar, synths, harp, field recordings, electronics and voices from which to weave a cinematic soundtrack lonely for accompanying images. Thanks to an inspired electronic and acoustic palette, 'Echoes From One To Another' is impossible to date-stamp or comfortably compare with anyone else operating at the moment.
2013 - The Silence was Warm
We have to go all the way back to summer of 2008 for the release of Arapahoe's Echoes From One To Another (the number one pick in textura's 2008 round-up, incidentally), which makes his collaboration with Serbian composer and vocalist Jovana Backovic, “To Paint Breath On Air,” all the more welcome. Five years removed from Arapahoe's classical-electronic debut album, the 2010 track is as exotic and alluring an excursion, though one given a noir jazz twist in its incorporation of acoustic bass and sensual vocalizing.
When seventeen artists are involved on sixteen tracks, something is needed to tie them together. As he did on the Trust compilation, Rudi Arapahoe contributes the pristine mastering; he also leads off the set with a vocal collaboration. While those unfamiliar with the native tongue may not understand the words, the track sets a contemplative mood, and the title ~ “to paint breath on air” ~ implies a calm demeanour.
2013 - Double Bind EP
Setting the tone is 'In Praise of Mirrors,' a gloomy scene-painting whose mystery is bolstered by processed harp strums and windswept seaside field recordings. Arapahoe's interest in Eastern sonorities is well-served by Basilides' presence during 'Gregory's Game' as her harp playing is able to generate a dulcimer-like effect when subjected to electronic treatments. Electronic rhythms give 'The Book of Knots' propulsion without compromising on the EP's tone, with in this case the piano and cello accounting for the music's macabre spirit. In the title piece, the singers' angelic voices intone wordlessly, their delicate wordless musings offering some glimmer of hope amidst funereal piano melodies and rumbling storms.
The entire EP creates a stifling and muggy atmosphere until the piano hammers break out through the smother and rain upon the thirsty strings..... On the last piece, titled ‘Endgames‘, Arapahoe explores abstract keys and chords which at once remind me of Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s celebrated work.
At first, fans of “Double Bind” (the track) may be caught off guard by these less accessible excursions, but after the initial shock wears off, listeners may find themselves drawn deeper into the intrigue.
En moins de 20 minutes, Rudi Arapahoe réussit le pari de nous cloîtrer dans son univers légèrement torturé mais toujours avec cette pointe de raffinement que l’on ne retrouve pas forcément chez tous les compositeurs d’aujourd’hui. L’essai est transformé en espérant ne pas avoir à attendre à nouveau cinq années pour pouvoir s’égarer avec délectation dans ce brainfuck hallucinogène.