This is the best debut album that i have heard in a while. Kedr Livanskiy takes dreampop, electronica, and a hint of goth and creates a blend that sounds new and fresh while not being exactly like anything that has come before. No small feat.
Kedr Livanskiy is the stage name of Yana Kedrina. Apparently it is the Russian name for the Lebanese Cedar tree. She started calling herself that because she thought it sounded funny when non-Russians said those words. Okay...
Ms. Kedrina has been DJing and making music around Moscow for a few years. Ariadna is actually her third release in 3 years, after a 12" and an EP. It is her longest work to date and shows a real evolution in her sound.
The album starts off with the title track, five and a half minutes of a simple clicking electro beat, pulsing synths, and her voice. Kedrina sings through echo, her voice floating in layers among the synth waves, all over that clicking beat. The beat keeps the song moving along at a nice pace, keeping the unfocused sounds together.
On Sunrise Stop she uses a drum machine beat that reminds me of You Are Invited by The Dismemberment Plan as keys float in layers. Her singing is clearer and faster here, the beat ramping up to a fast throb in the middle as the song gets a little dense. This is really pretty as well as being somewhat tense. The tenseness continues in Your Name, which starts very ambient and then builds to another nice skittering beat.
Mermaidis more ambient. An insistent throbbing tone pulses and off sounds float around it. It is a slightly unsettling song that slows into the ambient intro of ACDC. The synths wash and suddenly Martin Newell (an English singer-songwriter that i have never heard of before) is sampled. He reads Blake's "The Tyger". His voice is echoed and the British accent gives things a feeling of gravitas. So, of course, after the first stanza of the poem, Kedrina brings in a fast rave beat and the song skitters along, loud and with some kind of Russian vocal sample looped. This is like something from the mid 1990s trance scene... Love it!
She keeps up the rave beats on Za Oknom Vesna (which seems to translate as "Spring is in the air", although translating phonetic Russian is an inexact science at best). She pairs a throbbing beat with some intense tinkling percussion, like a clipped and looped hi-hat sample. Kedrina's keyboards sparkle and throb here, pulsing in big reverbing tones and fast little melodies. This is a rave, IDM, dreampop tune. Fascinating and beautiful.
My favorite on the album is next: Love & Cigarettes. It features a tense keyboard, minor tones providing an air of eeriness, and a skittering beat along with a simple hi-hat thud as her voice wanders. Her keyboards really soar on the choruses. Simply beautiful.
Kedrina goes full ambient for Sad One. Whooshing wind noises flow alongside a happy little keyboard riff. This is quiet and nice.
Fire and Water ends the album with another nice tune of tinkling hi-hat, throbbing bass beats, and soaring keys. She layers in a nice wavering synth bass here, and it makes the song really skip along happily.
The promo that the label sent me included an MP3 of Sunset, which is apparently only available with the limited edition vinyl of the album. That's a shame, because this song is fascinating. In it, she gets her LCD Soundsystem on, building a tune out of those big, loud keyboard tones that Murphy and co. use. Her voice is echoed and up close, over the pulsing tones, aahing lightly and singing in her gaspy Russian. This is another really great tune.
I like what she is doing here a lot. She fluctuates between very modern electro pop, late 1990s trance, and dreamy flowing pop, and she moves between them seamlessly, her delicate voice and her keyboards dancing together over the beats she uses.
There is a lot going on here. I look forward to seeing where she goes next.