Pavel Milyakov - La Maison De La Mort

  • The Russian producer also known as Buttechno turns to ambient.
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  • "Deconstructed club music" was such an overused and imperfect descriptor in 2018 that it became a meme, a catchphrase for poking fun at people who think too little and too much at the same time. If it didn't already have that baggage, I might use it to describe this new album of spooky synth sketches from the Russian producer Pavel Milyakov, AKA Buttechno. In this case, I don't mean deconstruction as a process of exploding and reconfiguring accepted musical structures (which I think is what some people mean when they use this term), but a subtractive process that isolates and removes elements from an arrangement. That's what Milyakov seems to be doing here. Most of these tracks are built from just one or two elements—usually textural, sometimes musical—which shapeshift quietly as he moves knobs on his reverb and delay pedals. It sounds like what would happen if you took a fully formed techno album and muted all the instruments except for the quiet background parts, which on this LP become the main attraction. The track titles, which read like file names you'd use to label exported stems, point to the same idea—"May Guitar," "First Pad," "Octa Plumb Plucks." Here, Milyakov draws our attention to small sounds that you might miss in a fuller arrangement. Milyakov has an ear for improvisation, which is what keeps these repetitive, ultra-minimalist tracks from getting boring. "Bolotniy" is mostly just clicking noises and a single, generous bass pulse, but he has such a keen sense of when to modulate—when to strike with one particular sound or another—that he carries it for over five minutes. "Virus Saw" sounds just like its title suggests: if there was an instrument called a virus saw, this is the sound it would make. Here, Milyakov treats synthesis a bit like sculpture, molding the contours of one sustained note with a touch that feels intuitive and tactile. First he gets a bowed sheet metal buzz out of it, generating layered folds of resonant harmonics. Then it takes on a kind of glass harmonica quality, which curls up into a sawtooth screech. "FFF" is almost entirely reverb, radiating outwards from synth tones that flash like headlights through fog. But it's not all austere noise and bummer vibes. Milyakov distributes emotional moments strategically throughout the LP to lighten up the mood. "Moon Pad"—which, again, sounds like it's named after whatever Moon Pad synth patch he used—is lovely and sad, with soft falling notes that suggest something lost or left behind. "Octa Plumb Plucks" has some melodic dimension too. "May Guitar" has a transcendent new age tint, and he works the loose guitar part nicely into the electronic palette. It almost sounds like a disassociated Juju & Jordash, if you eliminated the grooves and kept only the textural quality of the way they make guitars gel with synths. The guitars on the closing track, "Test," are more threatening. It has a claustrophobic, dissonant feel, the kind of energy that could send you tailspinning into a bad trip. It ends abruptly and on a fucked-up note, leaving enough of an impression, however ambiguous, to tempt the listener back.
  • Tracklist
      01. Intro 02. Breaked Scores 03. Bolotniy 04. FFF 05. May Guitar 06. Patt 2 07. Virus Saw 08. GF-1 09. Synthetics 10. Moscow Ambience 11. Octa Plumb Plucks 12. Moon Pad 13. Forest Loops 14. First Pad 15. Flights 16. Test