As you may have guessed if you have already come across my review of the new EUS, Postdrome & Saåad collaborative album, I do have a strong sentiment for such international and long-distance creative processes. It’s with that in mind that I was more than eager to hear what Pacific 231 and Bardoseneticcube were able to come up with together in their first collaboration. Their record, The Traditions of Changes, was created somewhere out there between Ireland and Russia, during the travels of sound itself.
Both the Irish Pierre Jolivet (Pacific 231) and Russian Igor Potsukaylo (Bardoseneticcube) have impressive individual histories in experimental music—not to mention their extensive discographies. Sometimes artists with such specific sounds and large output may find it difficult to combine their approaches in something homogeneous. On The Traditions of Changes, however, both musicians have managed to find an appropriate balance between their styles in order to create something completely and genuinely new. One things that likely helped was that the process was one of division. Jolivet seems to have worked on the audio sources by being in charge of field recordings and analog structures, while the latter, I reckon, took charge of designing abstract sounds, just like puzzle pieces. Then all of this was constructed and arranged by Potsukaylo. I suppose neither of the artists worked on their own during each phase, as, in the end, they would have agreed on the final outcome.
Whatever they did, it worked out great.
The very first thing that you’ll be likely to notice about The Traditions of Changes is its astonishing production. The album sounds massive, loud, and very thick—at least in that specific analog, almost scientifically perfect way. The CD format was a great choice for preserving this perfection, just as with the most recent example to come to mind, Sigmarsson’s So Long. Pacific 231 & Bardoseneticcube have come up with a very long, ever-moving piece (which tops out at over 54 minutes). On the CD, the album length has been divided into six separate movements, all of which can be perceived as different compositions since they focus on different elements. However, they do seamlessly flow into one another to make a whole. Powerful drones exist everywhere on The Traditions of Changes, dragging the listener further inside the music. Then come various sounds and loops, which either work as rhythmic patterns (in the first and fourth track) or just elements from a lively soundscape (tracks two and six). Mood-wise, each track feels different, from classically dark and almost industrial, to the positive and epic ambient fifth movement. There are certain sounds that I’m not so convinced should have been placed in such an intense and otherworldly sonic environment—think comically high re-pitched voices or children’s voices, but abstract art will of course remain abstract.
The only slight downside to The Traditions of Changes is that I couldn’t really sense a firm end to the album. It could have used some form of a psychological framework, put there to say, ‘We started like this, we discovered that, and here’s the end to our exploration.’ That might not be a bad thing as this open-endedness might allow for the possibility that Pacific 231 & Bardoseneticcube will eventually do a sequel to this album, but I’m always looking for that detail to wrap things up, to put them on the shelf and say ‘we’re ready for the next step’. As with any good piece of music that requires subjective thought, however, there is always the possibility that The Traditions of Changes did have that to say in the end, but I simply couldn’t grasp it. Such is the way of the abstract.
1) The Traditions of Changes