"Khotin’s music holds us in time, suspends us in moments of beauty and gives us the space in which to be suspended in memory"
In a world full of divisive words, shouting, barracking, and the endless cacophony of online communication, this record valorizes the quiet gesture. Where much communication is often wrapped in pseudo complexity as people struggle to be heard, Khotin exposes the overriding beauty of simple moments, expressed with great musical discernment and unerring skill. He reminds us that sometimes one word is enough.
Indeed the decision of Ghostly International to issue this work onto vinyl after its original digital release (3 July 2018), speaks directly to this inherent quietness. The record’s material form now reflects the idea that this music is to be heard outside of the megalomaniacal morass of the digital, in a more private and personal space.
There is a palpable sense of distance throughout this record, like the nearness of someone’s presence, just close enough to feel, but always just out of reach. This is perhaps linked to a sense of displacement symbolized by the cover image of Khotin’s mother and grandparents during their time as Russian refugees. The energy of this familial narrative remains in the music, yet it’s a captured moment that is faded and abstracted. Through a simple repetition of phrases, Khotin’s music holds us in time, suspends us in moments of beauty and gives us the space in which to be suspended in memory.
"Khotin exposes the overriding beauty of simple moments, expressed with great musical discernment and unerring skill. He reminds us that sometimes one word is enough"
Nowhere is this more evident than during the enigmatic synth washes of ‘Water Soaked in Forever’. The whole album carries this sense of nostalgic displacement and longing, but smiles and looks up to the sun rather than dragging its heels. It achieves this admirably from the very first chord of ‘Welcome’, that reminds me somewhat to Dominique Lawalree’s work, speaking with a compelling, homely, and melancholic gentleness. As ‘Welcome’ closes a computer-generated voice says ‘beautiful you, thanks for the smile’, initiating a personal relationship with the music, and a feeling that this record has been made just for us.
Warm and simple melodic lines, develop organically in natural and unfussy forms, like the rhythms of speech. This is matched with beautifully produced auditory space that references the sonic palette of Khotin’s house music past without being reverential to convention. The sonic objects he produces have freshness, and Khotin allows them to tell their own story. The refrains have a comforting familiarity, and an enveloping fullness that speaks of escape. ‘Vacation’ with its radio-waved vocal sample, telling us we’ve been selected to receive a ‘fabulous five day vacation’ exemplifies this feeling.
This is music that invokes an imagined sense of place. There are ambiences that ground us, room tone, bird song, found sound and the environment. But the synths produce an augmented reality lifting us away from the concrete into the fragile liminal space of memory.
This is an album that stands in the glow of the sunshine and watches as the madness ensues. It doesn’t try to explain, but asks you to stand quietly too, appreciate the shimmering movement, try to apprehend the shadows of the person who left Khotin a note on his car windscreen which read, ‘beautiful you, thank you for the smile.’
‘Beautiful You’ out 5 April 2019 in vinyl and digital formats via Ghostly International. Order a copy from Ghostly.
2. Water Soaked In Forever
3. Levi’s Synth
4. Alla’s Scans
7. Looping Good
8. Merged Host
9. Somehow More Sad
10. Planet B