Another ambient work by a Russian artist, this time, Anthesteria, the main project name of Georgiy Beloglazov, from St. Petersburg. 'Eis' is the third CD in the "Znaki" series tracing the parallel life of Zhelezobeton and kultFRONT label residents. The album is a compilation of Anthesteria compositions created between 2003-2010, some released on various artist compilations, others published by the author in his web diary, and some released for the first time. Technically, no newly composed material has been released by Athesteria since 2010, with the exception of "Alone" for which Sergey Vasilyev (Insane Pierrot Cabaret/Electrocabaret) read the poem by Edgar Allan Poe in 2016. Not surprising that much of 'Eis' is winter-themed, considering that's how it usually is in St. Petersburg. Considering that this is a compilation, the music of 'Eis' is a mixed bag of somewhat bleak ambient, neoclassical and industrial. My first impression was an enigma wrapped in a riddle, one for which I had no answer. Some of 'Eis' is quite engaging, some off-putting, and some just really strange. Over the 13 tracks on the CD, there is quite a variety, and at times you I felt like I was listening to different artists. It is more likely that Anthesteria has changed over time. About the name, Anthesteria - it was one of the four Athenian festivals in honor of Dionysus, occurring around the time of the January or February full moon.
Beginning with "Eidolon II" the listener is introduced to much wind and chimey synth chords with sustained synth following the chords. Behind this is an indistinct voice speaking over a PA system. Hmmm... "Alone" is the aforementioned Edgar Allan Poe recitation (in Russian) with melancholy neoclassical backing and subtle beats. "Peter Krasnov" is bleak ambient and some bellish melody. Didn't care much for "I Killed," a track with string-like synth chords and a simple melody with plucked guitar sound following the chords. Dialogue samples in the background (Russian, of course), sounding like an uninspired Raison d'être. A couple of bland neoclassical track pass, then things perk up with the magical and aptly titled "Snowflakes". In "Everything Will Be As Winter Wishes" there is at first a storm with the spirits of winter whispering in your ear, then something more akin to passing time with family in the warm indoors while the storm rages outside. All of a sudden though, a stark Russian voice heralds what seems like bad news. Odd. "Exodus" is the most industrial piece on this album with plodding, harsh, klanging beats, noise and dark ambience, a distorted woman's voice over a PA system, and a hint of chaos. "In Gedanken An Russisches Drone" is a rather strange drone piece, unusual with kind of amorphous acoustic guitar running through much of it. "Falling Apart" is sort of neoclassical drone with intermittent borrowed Russian recitation. Contrasting this is "First Winter Day," with its light, airy feel. Not sure that the beat/rhythm that was introduced a little less than halfway through was necessarily appropriate; seemed a little to IDM for me. Final track "We Are So Inspired That We Glow" begins with a sing-along Russian folk melody in a public place, but then turns droney as the happy songsters depart. It's not a dark, heavy drone, but a light sunny one. Nice way to end the album, especially considering the laughter near the conclusion.
This is definitely a mood album, or variety of moods album, and maybe a good introduction to Anthesteria. Beloglazov is not only a very talented musician/composer but also quite astute. After reading an interview with him regarding his game soundtracks ('Phobos 1953,' and 'Metro 2033' among them) I got some insight into his compositional skills as well as his intellect. Not sure why he hasn't come up with new Anthesteria material, but when he does, sign me up.