Gvantsa Narimanidze is a sound artist from Tbilisi, Georgia. Her latest work was inspired by the winter season and was composed between the end of 2022 and start of 2023. It was a winter fraught with anxiety given the ongoing Russia – Ukraine conflict and fears that gas supplies across Europe would be insufficient to cope with extremes of cold weather, ushering in nightmarish predictions that countless people, suffering fuel poverty, would freeze to death.
How much of that backdrop fed into Apotheosis Animæ is hard to discern. What is evident is a frosty stillness that presides over the delicate, sparse pieces that Narimanidze presents here. The piano-led opening track ‘Apotheosis’ is augmented by gentle reverb which only enhances a mournful, slightly dejected tone. It’s almost as if Narimanidze is sighing outwardly at the start of colder weather and the unstoppable slipping by of time.
That air of austerity and acceptance wends its way with intense subtlety through the pieces here. The ten-minute ‘Amnesia’ begins like an outline of itself, wherein all detail has been scrubbed away and replaced by tiny, almost imperceptible changes in momentum, a growling synth tone and high-pitched string sound drifting in like a bitter breeze. Snatches of voice, eulogising humankind’s relationship to the Earth, taps into Narimanidze’s belief system, foreshadowing a dramatic denouement wherein all the disparate elements previously buried deep in the mix coalesce into something tangible, something living.
‘Born In The Mist’ consists of suppressed, howling sounds that carry a sense of danger, heavy processing giving rise to a murky, dramatic, almost claustrophobic soundworld. It reminds me (pleasantly) of the first time I came upon one of Thomas Köner’s quiet works, whereupon I turned the volume up to an ear-splitting level to experience the brutality of amplified near-silence. ‘Train’ is easily one of the most mesmerising pieces in this collection, beginning with icicle-sharp pirouettes and gradually opening out into a crystalline field of synth pads on the axis between the haunting and the joyous. Elsewhere, the expansive ‘Codex’ has a lingering latency, an unswerving drone loop dominating the background while tendril-like synth arpeggios creep slowly into earshot. A stately, muffled glissandi piano motif adds a sense of grandeur as it weaves through the drone and synth spirals.
Narimanidze is a masterful sound designer, capable of infusing her pieces with a naturalistic spirit but also a searching, inquisitive, unresolved quality. Those signature flourishes can be found all over Apotheosis Animæ, representing a fantastically intricate, complex and yet spiritually rewarding body of work.
Apotheosis Animæ by Gvatsa Narim is released on 26 May 2023 by Cruel Nature.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2023 Further.
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