In My Ears: Udarniy zeH – Cloning Mechanism
Artist: Udarniy zeH
Title: Cloning Mechanism
Release Date: 2013 July 20
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Release Label: Otium
I had some pretty good hopes for this release when I started listening to it. It starts out low, with a lot of metallic sounds, rather dark, relaxing. Really a good start to what I thought was an ambient release. In fact, I recall some Klaus Schulze works starting in a similar manner, so I thought I was going to be in for a treat: hopefully someone that was taking a cue from that period of Schulze’s work, but going to take the idea in a different direction.
Only problem: that change in direction never occurred. The whole recording is a series of soundscapes lacking anything that I would classify as musical in nature. Yes, there are sounds that you could consider to be low drones, and maybe occasional voices. But on a pair of speakers (even decent studio monitors) you can barely pick out the details. And don’t even bother trying to listen to this recording in a car (which I tried by mistake one day) you won’t be able to hear ninety percent of the sounds.
About the only way I found to listen to this recording successfully was with headphones / earbuds. But, I normally only use those when I am at work so I don’t bother the people around me. Even then these soundscapes, even though somewhat relaxing, didn’t really accomplish my goal for listening to music at work: to take away the distraction of other sounds around me. Maybe this recording would have worked if I invested in a pair of noise cancelling headphones. But, it seems somewhat silly to me to think that I would invest in a new pair of headphones just for listening to a single recording.
Now, all of this isn’t to say that the recording doesn’t have positive sides to it.
First, it is immaculately produced. There are levels and subtleties of details in this release that engineers spend a lifetime trying to master, and very few of them actually accomplish.
Second, it is relaxing. Frequently I don’t find myself really being relaxed by dark, drone-ish soundscapes. But, I do have to admit, with my headphones on, and the volume set to a level that I could completely immerse myself in the sounds, I was relaxed.
Third, it is a challenge. Udarniy zeH is taking the capabilities for the dynamic sound range of digital recordings as far as to one side of the extreme as possible. And, these recordings prove that it is possible to use the lower sound field and quiet dynamics effectively in a recording.
But, as compelling and interesting as those positive points are, they don’t outweigh the overwhelming issue of this being a recording that you can’t listen to in most circumstances. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t have tried to do this type of recording, but rather it would be nice to have some pieces that counter-balance this type of work. Make it interesting to listen to the whole thing in general. Not produce it in such as a way as to only be worth listening to in a very specific sub-set of settings.