Image credit : Anastasia Pozhidaeva
Russian producer/musician Kedr Livanskiy returns with her expansive, timeless new record on which she pushes the boundaries of electronic songwriting. Liminal Soul plays like an opera as Livanskiy brings her crystalline voice to the forefront, channeling it into operatic choruses, looping falsetto, and one of her first full songs in English. This conviction is evident in the album’s instrumental arrangements as well – Livanskiy expertly fuses acoustic elements with electronic ones, deconstructing pop songwriting with Bjork-like prowess. The haunting vocal loop and house beat on lead single “Stars Light Up” sound almost underwater, distorting our sense of physical space and prompting us to “plunge into the night skies.”
“Stars Light Up”, which sees its release across all digital platforms today via 2MR, comes with an ethereal video captured on 8mm film in one of the oldest church complexes in Moscow by director Sergey Kostromin. Kedr describes, “White-hipped roof vaults – antique arches, but with a Slavic tint. This place is very personal to me. I feel the connection of antiquity, with those times when people turned their gaze to the sky in search of answers to their questions, in order to feel some kind of otherworldly energy and strength. ‘Look at the sky’ is sung in the song, urging people of our time not to lose contact with heaven – not necessarily in a religious sense, but rather a broader metaphysical one.”
Livanskiy’s previous record Your Need cemented her on the forefront of Russia’s burgeoning electronic / experimental music scene and was met with acclaim from both fellow DJs and press alike, earning her features in publications like The Guardian, Pitchfork (Read her Rising Feature), V, Bandcamp, Gorilla Vs Bear and more, as well as live gigs worldwide from Moscow to New York City.
The infectious pop energy of Your Need is still present on Liminal Soul, but this time it’s more refined; a single element in an elaborate arsenal. Rather than rebelling against the upbeat nature of Your Need, she opted to expound upon it: Liminal Soul takes the technicolor dance floor conjured on Your Need and drops it into the middle of a lush forest, striking a perfect balance between the electronic energy of contemporary life and the organic ease of the natural world.
“Urban being and intuitive organic life are inseparable within a man. That’s the boundary I intended to discover, an archaic pulse inside modern people.”
To do so required her first to push her own internal boundaries, including the use of her voice. In the past, Livanskiy’s vocals were used sparingly, a gentler element in a larger production tapestry. On Liminal Soul, though, she’s brought them to the forefront. With this liberation came the freedom to experiment with the voice as an instrument as well: in addition to ethereal choruses, Livanskiy also employs falsetto and looping operatic harmonies to bolster these songs. On “Boy”, she sings in English, mournfully reflecting on the end of a relationship and growing older. Her presence on these tracks is more palpable as a result – Livanskiy is taking ownership in a way she hadn’t in the past.
On Liminal Soul she injects her infectious club beats with a dose of the natural, crafting a transcendent collection of deconstructed break pop. Contributions from Flaty and avant-electronic group Synecdoche Montauk on “Your Turn” and “Night” add texture to the album’s dancier tracks, while the use of older acoustic instruments on “Storm Dancer” and “Boy” add a sense of timelessness that furthers the otherworldly tone. From the angelic choral opener “Celestial Ether” to the moodier outro “Storm Dancer”, the listener enters a state of suspended reality where they are transported to dark cityscapes and verdant rural sprawls, futuristic societies and ancient ones, all in the same stroke. In the end, Livanskiy doesn’t propose a single path forward. The point, instead, is to make peace with the fluctuation itself.
The album’s striking cover art, designed by Kedr and Flaty, reflects this theme as well: “It was essential to share the feeling of transition, of a space, which cannot be articulated,” she says. “The idea is that even in dark ages the light still glows somewhere inside.”
Liminal Soul sees its release via 2MR on October 1. Pre-order it here and keep up with Kedr Livanskiy on Instagram here.
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