Review Summary: There is no need to worry about whether it is just a one-off affair or how Ishome is going to evolve over the next years: Confession exists here and now and provides a short wave of drowsy, contemporary electronic music.
To describe electronic music, one quickly refers to some kind of movement the music and its producer are part of. It is only logical: a genre tag is usually rather broad, only describing the basic elements of the music. Some people tend to circumvent this limitation to invent a wealth of new fusion, micro- or sub-genres (or all of them at the same time), but this system basically collapses under its own weight as it usually ends up with almost as much genres as there are artists. Therefore, it is easier to stick to the label on which the music was released (if it is a label known for pushing a certain sound), the city the artist lives (when it lends its name to a genre) or other artists with whom the considered producer has collaborated to quickly give an impression of the sound. The repercussions of this approach are obvious: if you like a certain "brand" of music, you will probably end up following certain labels, go to specific clubs, and listen to podcasts and mixes by the figureheads of the "movement". If an artist appears somewhere in this picture, bloggers, review websites, and the audience they are aiming for, will pick him or her up and a piece like this would most likely not be written for it.
Hailing from southern Russia, which is not generally considered to be an electronic music hotspot, and without obvious label support or a well-known mentor, Mirabella Karianova (Ishome) finds herself in a kind of not-so-splendid isolation. This does not mean her debut album only exists in its own space, without clear influences or stylistic neighbors, only those musical neighbors are not exactly geographical ones, making this rather overlooked. Confession
lives on the intersection of a dubstep permutation with something more ambient and open. Although garage and dubstep influences can be heard in the skippy beats and driving bass in tracks such as "Adam", "Sad Family" and the two parts of "Tetra 94", they are not the only attraction. Heavy use of pitch-shifted vocal samples and sampled instrumentation is of course nothing new to this kind of music, but still Ishome's approach seems fresh, although maybe slightly overloaded. She carefully intertwines bass, vocal snippets and short pieces of instrument recordings in a way they form something of an open landscape. A prime successful attempt of this approach is the slowly unfolding "Adam", which initially only uses one, staccato sample on top of its subtle bass and shuffling beat. Slowly however, the sample is used to build up a simple melody after which it is replaced by a saxophone sample, which is also given time to be introduced to the listener. Only after this thoughtful introduction, Ishome feels the time is right to combine the two.
This open, multi-faceted, organic feel of Confession
is somewhat reminiscent of the atmosphere that made some compare Trentemøller's debut album to a forest. But the resemblance does not lie merely in the delicate, organic-sounding "less is more" approach: also technically the album borrows from minimal techno, as the steady beat in "Wildness" shows. After the aforementioned tracks, which are something of an introduction to all the stylistic bits and pieces Ishome is drawing from, the ambient/drone track "It Exists" comes up, built around an unmanipulated Gregorian chant. It is something of a conclusion to the first part of the album, in which the various ingredients Ishome wanted the use were presented. After this interlude, it becomes time for the closing two-piece consisting of "Ken Tavr" and its continuation "Earth", following a buildup similar to the one in "Adam" described earlier, but the tracks move back and forth between their different influences. It is this two-track suite Ishome uses to demonstrate what she is aiming for: watching the London-Berlin axis from a rather large distance, she can pick individual elements from its music output without feeling the pressure to adhere to a specific formula.
In that sense, it is difficult to figure out what Confession
actually wants to achieve. It is definitely a short and pleasant melting pot of many ancestors, but what lies beneath its smooth-as-silk production? Would taking a step back reveal that the delicate fabric does not cover any true substance, no real, personal story of any kind? Well actually, this may be precisely the point: whatever its agenda might be, the listener has no incentive to go look for it as nothing beats just being lazily wrapped up by Ishome's beautiful productions. There is no need to worry about whether it is just a one-off affair or how Ishome is going to evolve over the next years: Confession
exists here and now and provides a short wave of drowsy, contemporary electronic music.