- With her fairy tale-tinged techno pop, the artist is a bellwether of the Russian electronic music scene's golden future.
- Winters in Russia are famously harsh, and the country's literature speaks extensively of the mythical snow that lands like powdered sugar, the wreaths of smoke, opaque skies and merciless blizzards that decorate the longest season. Sometimes referred to as the "General Frost," the winter climate is so severe that it even acts as Russia's most powerful weapon against ill-prepared enemies during historic battles. Eventually, though, the cold gives way to verdant fields and longer days. It's easy to believe that these seasonal shifts, buzzing with anticipation of new possibilities, could have offered some inspiration for Kedr Livanskiy's third album, Liminal Soul.
The Moscow-born artist, real name Yana Kedrina, draws out sonic worlds that mirror her physical surroundings. She prefers to write these records on home ground, and much of her work conveys the ethos and natural terrain of her home country. "Somehow, mentally, it gives me strength," she has explained of this intimate practice.
Coming from Russia's emergent and exciting electronic scene, Kedrina is a bellwether of its golden future. Her music comes with a hearty dose of nostalgia, incorporating '90s trance, IDM and breakbeat into enchanting songs that would fit as well as the soundtrack to a fairy tale as the backdrop to a debauched sunrise hour at a warehouse rave.
Kedrina is perpetually experimenting with new ideas. Her influences are varied, including the percussive works of Lisbon label Príncipe and the hiccuping footwork of DJ Rashad. On Liminal Soul's opener, "Celestial Ether," she evokes the darkness of early Lotic productions with glitchy ballroom stabs and a frisky dembow rhythm. A baile funk beat pillars the record's standout, "Night," where 16-bit video game synths tootle over lyrics that talk of wanderlust as a "fresh new wind."
Kedrina's previous album, the club-oriented and peppy Your Need, was assembled across ten days in a Moscow studio with Saint Petersburg producer Flaty. On that record, the music video for "Ivan Kupala (New Day) (Иван купала)" depicted a rave in the middle of a forest, and on Liminal Soul she fleshes out similar meditations on the relationship between man-made structures and the natural world.
Kedrina's reverb-drenched falsetto doles out irresistible hooks in her native Russian, simultaneously evoking the ephemeral melancholy of urban tunnels, the life-affirming smell of April and the welcome chaos of dark, see-sawing waves. On "Teardrop", she offers a novelistic description of a landscape over an icy breakbeat: "There are only lands of eternal snow ahead / The copper compass will guide you / And by the warming breath flowers will blossom in scarlet / The flowers of April cover white snow."
Heartbreak looms on "Badlands," where Kedrina prepares to abandon a once-promising love affair: "On the cold ground / Days-memories / Love is a blizzard/ A planet of farewell." It's also one of the LP's more experimental tracks, screeching at one moment, then in another showcasing pitched-up garbles and Kedrina's seraphic vocals, which rise and fall like a feather traveling mid-air. Only "Boy," sung in English, fails to live up to the high standard of everything around it, lacking the lush scenery and colorful descriptors of the album's Russian-language tracks.
But "Boy," blooming with guitar riffs, violins and skippy amen breaks, encapsulates the playful beauty that makes Liminal Sound so beguiling. Kedrina is still experimenting with her sound, and it's exciting to witness. Liminal Soul doesn't have the pop-fueled rush of her last LP, nor the lo-fi chill of her debut album, Ariadna. It displays her vast set of influences, brilliant vocals and ultimately, the infinite potential of Russia's dance music scene.
01. Celestial Ether
02. My Invisible
04. Stars Light Up
06. Night feat. Synecdoche Montauk
07. Your Turn feat. Flaty
09. Storm Dancer