Valiska :: A Day As A Blade Of Grass (Inner Ocean) CD
Valiska :: A Day As A Blade Of Grass (Inner Ocean) CD
Delicate piano phrases and trembling guitars hold the piece together, sliding in and out of view across its six sections under punishing waves of feedback and static. But for all of the noise and jittering experimentation that skitters through the mix, Sujata is most infatuated with those slivers of light in the darkness that give space to reflect. It’s in those moments when the truly human elements of his music are brought to the fore and the connections between the fragments are made in the mind of the listener.
To dissect the essential fabric of sound is a difficult enough task, but doing it with such care and devotion marks Valiska out as an artist in complete control of his craft. With its emotional resonance and sonic verve, ‘A Day as a Blade of Grass’ is a captivating and transportive piece from one of the most highly respected figures in contemporary ambient music.
Accompanying full length video:
Composed/Recorded/Mixed: Krzysztof Sujata
Mastered: Rafael Anton Irisarri
Artwork/Design: Whitney Ota
A Day As A Blade Of Grass is Calgary-based Krzysztof Sujata aka Valiska’s most ambitious composition to date. Released on June 7, 2013 on the Canadian Inner Ocean Records label and available to purchase and listen to at Bandcamp, it comes in a limited edition of 200 CD’s plus a downloadable video that is as essential a part of the whole experience as the sound waves themselves. The work depicts an aural time lapse camera and clocks in at exactly 24 minutes, with each minute resembling the respective hour of a full day in the figurative life of a blade of grass. The preposition of the title is very important, for it showcases what Sujata wants to achieve with his long form piece: the listener is not invited to experience the typical day of a blade of grass rather than as a blade of grass. The connotation stresses the aspects of metamorphosis or a highly detailed look and hence neglects a more universal viewpoint of, say, the whole meadows and their surrounding landmarks. With the help of a piano, a pair of guitars as well as filters and layering techniques, A Day As A Blade Of Grass gathers a wide array of conflictive and incompatible auras, notions and forces. The listener truly feels like a small blade of grass in the given vicinity, but Valiska eventually balances the virtues and timbres, no matter how crestfallen or euphoric a certain vignette may be at a certain minute. The video tastefully visualizes the contrastive sequences and contains a few eye-opening scenes that help a prerogative of interpretation to unfold its plausibility. However, the following analysis is all about the sound-related experience this profound piece makes possible.
Darkness reigns in the prelude phase.
The morphogenetic base frame of A Day As A Blade Of Grass is based on a Glitch-perturbed piano arrangement; decidedly desiccated and dun, the enchased code of its core coruscates through the crepuscular wasteland. The rotor-esque tremolo of the diffuse piano chords injects crystalline shards of frostiness whose calcine afterglow twirls into a void of pitch-black nullity. All of a sudden, the nocturnal soil is ameliorated with another piano layer, one that emanates vigorous verdure by the means of its rich green chords. The base frame is still maintained and potentially gelid, but the aeriform squalls of warmth lessen its designed phlegm or hibernation. In its second minute, the composition becomes increasingly fleshed out. Turbulent wind gusts via overdriven electric guitars in tandem with gunmetal-hued brazen sustain billows augment the conjecture about a backdrop of emptiness further, since the louder and forceful a sound wave is, the longer the dissemination of its reverb lasts. Valiska oscillates between vaulted panoramas and outdoor antipodes, a duality that is also interposed and woven into the growing amount of moods. First the forsaken iciness, then the genuine benignancy of the evocative piano chords, finally the metallic luminosity of the raucous guitar coatings which feel more like prongs and pinholes than drone washes. Within the prospering and expanding boundaries of A Day As A Blade Of Grass, staggering bass globs accentuate the increasingly mercurial superstructure.
Plasticity unfurls in the subsequent array.
Scuttling stokehold screeches flicker incisively in front of a piano note’s prolonged finish. Like a rolling thunder the backing drone unleashes pompousness and esprit, but also serves as the counterbalance in the given prospect of spectral scintillation and acroamatic apparitions. Static noise capsules splay the headroom, their dichotomously bucolic inclemency encounters genuinely genteel electric guitar serpentines. Wondrously silkened and reversely played sine tones accrete both the aura of playfulness and the growing certitude of being at the mercy of an eminently elapsing fluxion called time. Strong waves of euphony are unchained via elysian guitar strings and vibraphone-resembling translucent glitters which sparkle like dancing sun rays on a dew drop-covered blade of grass. The piano is played in martelato, the hammered chords in upper tone regions seem like streamlined legato cascades which are missing microseconds of their existence and thus appear as lacunar-fissured entities littered with small crevasses. Despite the highly different characteristics, virtual surfaces and physiognomies, the aforementioned term of plasticity astutely describes the partial turmoil which is so well orchestrated. When A Day As A Blade Of Grassprogresses, so does its euphony. The listener certainly adjusts to the pointillistic unison of scraping and harmonious artifacts and starts to embrace the eluding splinters in adjacency to the harmonious timbre.
Transfiguration is the intermittent revelation.
The eponymous blade of grass shifts, tumbles and stabilizes ad infinitum within the physical borders of the composition, but no matter the strength, sinews or vibrancy of a given minute or hour, A Day As A Blade Of Grass is in the process of opening up and revealing the starchy plasma between its helixes. External circumstances become integral parts of the big picture, the ethereal exterior becomes the iridescent interior, a state of transcendence arises. The aura of the guitar layers turns increasingly ebullient, its bass alloy interpolates the fortitude, beatific piano tones and smoldering specks virtualize the sunlight and spawn a photosynthetic phantasmagoria. Blazing fluorescence is now all over, below and in the arrangement, and once this bedazzling cachet is firmly in place, Valiska harks momentarily back to the quieter phases of the inception and reintroduces the listener to the murky pith of the prelude, for the glowing fluorescence works most effectively in darker surroundings, with the magnanimous duration of an enigmatic, sylphlike quiescence. Aquiver with pleasant anticipation, the track – while not having reached its full circle yet – now propitiates the listener with the antecedent atrophy of the bleak gateway to A Day As A Blade Of Grass. What was once danger-evoking and lugubrious is enormously ennobled by veils of tape hiss and strongly Oriental sitar-resembling guitar licks.
Susurration epitomizes the sunset phase.
The formerly feisty and veritably vivacious strings, piano tones and sizzling frizzles decrease, their intensity discharges, the concept of the null space showcases its probabilistic existence. Six minutes runtime are still before the listener, and the final fade-out is already put into operation. A Day As A Blade Of Grass, notwithstanding all genre conventions, presumptions and listening habits, comes back with a multifaceted tantrum, now supercharged with recalcitrance, shoving aside the impending ostracism, an iniquitousness deemed superfluous. Given the overarching concept of a day, the downfall is only natural and necessary for the circle to repeat. A pernicious, portentous presentiment does therefore not materialize in the final moments of Valiska’s aural grassland. While virtue and volition sound specifically acidic and fearful, the apotheosis concludes the existence with the dreamiest and mellowest of piano tones, even the Glitch molecules and guitar placentas carry a lachrymose tonality with them. The last remnants of silver-colored piano chords fade into the distance, perfectly withdrawn into themselves, at peace with the ashen state of darkness. And as we all know, darkness reigns in the prelude phase. Oh deity, hit repeat.
A Day As A Blade Of Grass seems like a self-explanatory title, especially so if it is compared to its runtime. A day has 24 hours, this composition runs 24 minutes, the blade-related part of the constructed meadow resembles a polylayered microcosm rather than a bird’s eye perspective. Everything seems easily explainable. However, a great concept never feels self-imposed, and so it happens that Valiska overtakes both the part of a coxswain who is in control of the aqueous landscape and a visitor who himself watches his prospering construction in awe. It turns out that the title does not reveal the full impetus of the elemental forces that perturb and permeate the blade of grass, the incessant string of counteracting – even potentially counterintuitive – devices and slivers or the diverse range of timbres with their ever-shifting thresholds. A Day As A Blade Of Grass is so marvelously effective due to the closest of all looks, the focus on one single culm. The concept allows, makes possible and justifies all the turbulencies, maelstroms, placid states of peace and hatched interim stages few and far between.
The textural range is as enormous as described, but the various moods, the contrastive segues and short moments of imbalanced happenstances create the soul of A Day As A Blade Of Grass, a time lapse of 24 minutes which resemble a day’s elemental 24 hours. Much more important, however, is the implied plot of the refined and reformed listener, even after repeated listening sessions! I for one continue to perceive the comparably hibernal prelude as harsh and cold, and this assertion becomes all the more alienating when I remind myself of the fact that no Glitch particles or oversaturated guitars are yet in place at that timeframe. I try to make myself comfortable time and again with the emptiness, the hollow surroundings, the blur of nonentity that typically occurs in macro photographs, but only when the composition reaches the end of its cycle, the darkness has lost all of its obstinate severity. A Day As A Blade Of Grass always works, regardless of how the Ambient fan approaches it. It is a case study for program music, about transforming an easy to grasp concept into a designedly labyrinthine panorama with all of the possibilities and forces that come with it, despite the ubiquitous focus. The video is the icing on the cake, poignant and astute, shady and bright, either showing the various states of the track in precise clarity or by the means of blurred diffusion when applicable. Krzysztof Sujata has created an enthralling, multi-layered piece that erects cavalcades of colors with just a piano, guitar and filters.-Björn Werkmann
Watch the full length accompanying video here!: