ELECTRONIC SOUND MAGAZINE - Reviewer : Ben Wilmott
There’s not much evidence of slavish adherence to dance music genres here but equally you’d have to place it in the left field ambient folder. There are clear echoes of the chilly rather than chilled electronics of Autechre and Aphex, with perhaps a twist of post-industrial sensibilities of the “ Isolationalism “ compilation and the sonic purity of Pete Namlook’s Fax label. In other words if those reference points are your kind of music then you’re in for a treat, as Gagarin is more then capable of reaching the lofty heights of the very best that this most horizontal of musical movements has to offer, He’s also got the versatility to keep you attention over the 11 tracks on Aoticp, shifting moods like weather moving over rugged countryside. It’s extremities are its true highlights. ‘Home Service for example layers background ambience and understated interference to create an unsettling restless piece, which transports you and keeps you enthralled throughout, despite on the surface not doing very much at all. The thuggish drum machine thumps and caustic pops and crackles on Bakelite, on the other hand are all action built around a few exultant stabs put through the drill n bass mixer. This couldn’t be further from the sweeter melodic moments on Aoticp. ‘Ammil’ is intriguing enough to keep you listening but operates on a handful of interweaving chords, a couple of frisky polyrhythmic counterpoint and the occasional note soaring majestically above the mix. It’s not too clever for it’s own good and makes a highly effective overture. Likewise ‘Hilversum’ starts out sounding like a mouse running up and down the keyboard but is steadily drawn into focus aided by austere phasing synth strings. The result is as atmospheric and emotionally turbulent as one of Mike Paradinas’ finest tracks. If you thought this end of the electronic music spectrum reached it’s creative peak in the 90s and stopped moving forward then Gagarin’s esoteric palate and deft hand will prove you very very wrong. Ladies and Gentlemen we are floating in space once again.
THE QUIETUS - Reviewer : David Stubbs
Gagarin is the nom de plume of Graham Dowdall, who has a long and distinguished history as a percussionist and electronicist. He played drums with Ludus in the early 80s, with Nico in her underrated twilight years and is a member of the current Pere Ubu line-up, providing a liquid bed of abstract electronics to accompany David Thomas's , still vital lyrical meanderings. As a carrier of Soviet ideas and cosmic ambitions Yuri Gagarin represents a lost possible future, a modernity that never materialised . This album is an appropriate soundtrack to that hankering; each piece is a mechanical ballet playing out against a lonely, oblivious deep space backdrop, like fully operational pieces of equipment from some long abandoned space exploration project, still whirring and wheeling. Gagarin's distinctive percussive patter and sense of spatial arrangement make for a music that ill-deserves glib IDM bracketing. There's no overall pattern or template here; each track explores its own individual orbit of ideas. 'Ammil''s weaving, faintly Middle Eastern percussion is countered by metallic, synaptic bursts of electricity, swelling and evaporating over a classic, stately melody. 'Home Service V2'cranks and churns remotely, lost in the grainy distance, like one of Edgar Varèse's "interpolations" from Déserts regarded through the mists of time.'Equoranda''s digital sprinkle reminds of Bernard Parmegiani's distinctive electronic chime composed for us at Charles De Gaulle airport, gleams like an immaculate, lost cluster as regarded from the rueful perspective of the post-space age. 'Hilversum''s random, generative droplets eventually coalesce into a working pattern as mellotron-type triangles hove overhead. Like all the best Ambient it evokes a sense of inquisitive disquiet rather than complacent relaxation. It contrasts with 'Troglodyte', whose acidic rhythms sound like a transmission from Kepler 452B, planet earth's recently-discovered "cousin", with multiple limbs flailing and glowing fingers stabbing the air. Slowly but surely, music of this electronic calibre is wending its way into the public consciousness as more and more people cast their ears skyward and marvel at just what's out there.
ROCKERILLA - Reviewer : Robert Mandolini
Amniotic dances where warm analogue synths add depth to the glacial atmospheres. A great mix of folk and cool IDM textures.
A combination of hypnotic ambient electronica and thrumming, skittering percussion. Part classic electronic, part futuristic.
Full of wild imagination and wild dreams. It howls, bangs, tickles and warbles futuristically. Every track is a multi sensory experience that revamp space and time.
His music floats somewhere between ambience and IDM, but never categorically falls into any defined pigeonhole as it moves into far reaches of unexplored territory. His newest album is no different. AOTICP stays the course in the aesthetics that have been become Gagarin’s signature sound while Geo Records, plays host again to the latest LP. As the exclusive vehicle for Gagarin, the label ensures the uncompromising ideal of the author remains once again at the heart of this release. It features industrially random rhythms and improvised synths all working within a directed compositional form, but it’s the spatial awareness of the elements that really stands out on the album. Their minimalist intent hardly crowds the tracks, and in their compositional forms, they pull the listener through the endless space of the music, and coincidently time. The ‘retro’ nature of the synth palette contemporises in the context of big looming 808 kicks arranged in trap-like rhythm patterns, while the experimentalist nature of the sound design recalls a concurrent fellow futurist like Space Dimension Controller.
A journey that bends time and space, a dance inspiring suite to lift the spirits