The Crimean city of Yalta sits on a solitary peninsula, stretching far out into the calm waters of the Black Sea – a geographic anomaly and coastal hideaway. The climate is warm, the air refreshingly crisp and the surroundings an exquisite tapestry of forests, cliffs and mountains, adorned with orchards. A scene not most readily associated with the darkened, cavernous confines of techno.
"By putting releases on the map quicker than most - the mercurial producer has clocked up no less than five in under a year - the momentum he’s building is quite something"
Yet, as John’s Kingdom pacemaker Pavel Milyakov continues to demonstrate, techno can be whatever it likes. Known principally as Buttechno, Milyakov’s brand of fragmented, experimental electronics has been turning heads recently. By putting releases on the map quicker than most – the mercurial producer has clocked up no less than five in under a year – the momentum he’s building is quite something.
When releasing records with an almost machinelike frequency, you’d certainly expect the quality of each to suffer. But, by all accounts, it hasn’t. Each release comes with a fresh perspective and an uncompromisingly raw aesthetic that takes hold at the flick of a switch.
"Just as Yalta is a principle holiday destination, this is a record with those exact transportive qualities. A getaway to the relaxing reaches of the coast, a space for meditation and disconnect"
Just a few months on from his powerful debut – a self-released album simply called ‘Sport‘ – comes a curious tribute to the seaside city that has helped shape a large proportion of his music. And on the mighty Gost Zvuk Records, a label very firmly part of Moscow’s current electronic vanguard.
The creativity that Milyakov has managed to tap into while in this unusual city is just half the story. Though his regular trips there are significant, this record is actually an attempt to communicate a certain state of mind – one that he calls Yalta. And while listening through, it’s clear that the pervading sound is one of escape.
Just as Yalta is a principle holiday destination, this is a record with those exact transportive qualities. A getaway to the relaxing reaches of the coast, a space for meditation and disconnect – there’s a constant reminder that these idyllic moments are often all too brief within this album – one punctuated with flashes of energy and a certain exploratory quirk.
"'Styx' - arguably the strongest on the album - delivers a jolt. Unhinged 909 hi-hats ghost in and out over menacing kicks, while dark, nebulous chords play out on endless repeat"
The beginning of the record is case in point. ‘Ochrre‘ opens the album in contemplative mode but makes way for the more fierce ‘Dungeon‘ – an electro-informed track which sets an explosive tone. Robust synth pillars arrive in ceaseless waves: a mesmeric backdrop for the meaner, more ambiguous percussive elements – filtered beyond recognition and on a separate planet – scattering overhead in a cloud of kicked up, voltaic dust. Electrifying.
Take a deep breath. Things don’t settle down for a while yet. Before the calming, tape-saturated tones of ‘Synthopia‘ – the final track on the A-side – intensity is the name of the game: an emotion Milyakov wields most expertly. ‘Styx‘ – arguably the strongest on the album – delivers a jolt. Unhinged 909 hi-hats ghost in and out over menacing kicks, while dark, nebulous chords play out on endless repeat. At just past the half way point, whip-like snares crack and snap angrily – very literal confirmation that this track hits hard.
"Heavenly, sun-drenched chords beam boldly through your speakers; distant noises crackle and pulse tentatively, as the onset of fractured 2-step references surface"
When those same chords were unleashed during Milyakov’s Boiler Room set last year, the mood in that room changed instantly – evidence that for all the experimental impulses, his music is, at core, dancefloor ready. And, from a production standpoint, ‘Styx‘ ticks all the relevant boxes. Although there are minimal components and obvious continuity, very rarely is one bar the same as another during the three or so minutes – something you’ll find across the whole album in fact.
Flip the record over and ‘Warm Wind‘ is the standout track. Heavenly, sun-drenched chords beam boldly through your speakers; distant noises crackle and pulse tentatively, as the onset of fractured 2-step references surface. Aptly named – the near-thermal qualities of this piece of music are all-consuming. And only to be spat out again by the clap-heavy, club workout – ‘Afterwheel_sept‘ – perhaps the most conventional on the entire album.
"Playfully short tracks that develop and disintegrate; longer, drawn-out excursions that occupy more trance-inducing musical terrain - 'Yalta' feels very instinctively put together"
Playfully short tracks that develop and disintegrate; longer, drawn-out excursions that occupy more trance-inducing musical terrain – ‘Yalta‘ feels very instinctively put together. And that’s exactly what is so intoxicating about the whole thing: the way in which Milyakov glides so effortlessly from one track to the next, gripping you with a vice-like tightness.
A record simultaneously so lo-fi yet well-polished is a rare combination. And it doesn’t feel overthought in the slightest – an organic and impulsive journey to the coast, unplanned and exciting. And considering the creative output Milyakov enjoys while in this unique, pine-blessed region beside the sea – it must be something in the air.
Yalta is released via Gost Zvuk on July 1st, pre-order a vinyl copy from Juno.
A3. Silent E
A4. Styx Vol 3
B2. Loop Nov25
B3. Warm Wind
B4. Afterwheel Sept
B6. Yalta Sea Blues