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Nov 17

My Pop Year: KEDR LIVANSKIY – “Ariadna”

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One of the great dangers of listening to music from around the world – as you’ll see, it’s a danger I fall foul of a LOT – is a kind of geographical determinism, At home I’m a tourist, projecting my misty sense of a place I’ve never been onto the music I’m hearing. All I need to know is that Kedr Livanskiy is a young woman from Moscow and bang, I’m off, letting the sound conjure up mountains of snow, roads lined with decaying concrete flats, lives of brittle hedonism and bitter suspicion, and whatever other borrowed images my head’s filled up with since I first saw the video for Elton John’s “Nikita”.

In my defense, the music makes this nonsense a lot easier by being goth as hell. Livanskiy takes rhythms from the 80s and 90s – the dry snap of the drums under “Ariadna” reminds me a lot of vintage electro – and wreaths them in clouds of gloomy synth and a keening, fatalistic sounding multi-tracked vocal. The overall vibe this creates is a kind of hopeless momentum, the drums kicking the song forward as Livansky’s sepulchral vocals swathe them in mourning black. There are lots of ways this could go wrong – beats a little too retro, velvet drapes a bit too smothering, references crossing the line into corny, but mostly her Ariadna LP gets the balance right, and this title track certainly does.

(Post explanation: This year I’ve listened to a new-to-me LP every day. 200+ of these LPs are from 2017. From now until the end of the year, I’ll be writing as quickly as I can about tracks I’ve particularly enjoyed. This series may resolve itself into a countdown, I haven’t decided.)

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