Thorn1 is the project of Evgeny Zhedya, who is from the Altai region of Russia. Those are the mountains in central Asia, for those of you keeping score at home. It's not an area i know a lot about, and one that i think is kind of sparsely populated.
The music on The Leave of Leaves varies between ambient and post-rock. Zhedya works alone, and he crafts these complex songs out of many layers. I think the music here is pretty fascinating.
The title track kicks off the album in an ambient haze droning lightly. His voice comes in, singing in Russian, accompanied by a thudding flat drum machine. It is like a goth tune sprang out of the ambient haze. But then, on the chorus, he adds distortion to the guitar and suddenly it sounds shoegaze. It is a very odd mix, but he makes the transitions work. Who would have known that ambient-goth-shoegaze could be a thing?
Lorca starts with a tinkling xylophone sound, very much like what Tortoise do. Behind the plinking xylophone is a slow, very deep, bass rumble. A vocal sample wanders in, sounding cut up and mangled, which somehow makes it eerie. And then he hits us with a drum machine pounding a fast beat, like a machine gun. It gets noisier, the tinkling buried under distorted guitar and that drum gun hit. I like the way that this one grows.
The next song, Stun is a ten-minute tune, so you know that you have to patient. Again it starts with ambient noodling. Eventually, a nice electro drum beat comes in, and after 5 minutes he starts singing. Here his vocals remind me of Jonsi from Sigur Ros. This is a very pretty, long slow song.
On 14-40 Zhedya claims that part of the lyrics are taken from Innokenty Annensky, a Russian poet from the late 19th century. The singing is in Russian, so i would never have known. Anyway, he sounds really great here, his voice rich and droning. The music he pairs this with is a slowly building post-rock that builds from just a simple guitar accompaniment to a dense din, with strings layered in, before fading out slowly.
Your Troubles Are Over kicks in with more voice, and then he hits the overdrive pedal on the guitar, and you hear a wall of noise with faint voice and drums in the background. Here, Thorn1 reminds me of Flying Saucer Attack.
He starts Minus Mercury with some strings, before dropping in a skittering electro beat and some light strummed guitar. It is a pretty epic song with chiming guitar and soaring voice. It reminds me of Port-Royal, a little bit. A really great song.
And finally the album ends with the awesomely titled At The Age of 15 I Will Love You Forever. This is a slow tune of keyboards. It echoes slowly, ending the album on a very pretty note.
I am very impressed. There is a lot going on here, and Zheyda does it all well. Who knew that there was quality Russian post-rock in the mountains of central Asia?