If you’ve put any time and energy into promoting a project via email recently, you know that it’s difficult to put together a note that doesn’t look and feel like a phishing trip. In all likelihood, the recipient has never heard of you. They’re unfamiliar with the project. And you’re asking them to click on a link.
Now imagine you’re trying to do that from Russia. The country best known for hockey, wooden dolls and the Internet Research Agency produces some of the most compelling new music in the world. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit to some trepidation every time a label I’m unfamiliar with from that part of the world invites me to check out their latest.
That was certainly the case when I first heard from Фактура (Faktura) in Yekaterinburg. The Russian city sits just east of the Ural Mountains, north of Kazakhstan. Historians know it as the site of the Romanov executions in 1918. That was Russia’s last royal family before the 1917 revolution.
My leap of faith in Artem Dultsev’s “local electronic music label” has been rewarded with a number of world-class recordings. I asked Dultsev by email if it’s difficult to promote music from Russia. He took the high road.
“I can’t say how difficult it is because I don’t know how easy it is [elsewhere],” he wrote. “Russian media do not write about us. It seems to me that now the interest is more from Europe and the U.S. In Russia you need to promote yourself more. In the West, this happens more naturally. Perhaps this is due to the fact that there are certain tools (premieres, blogs, music media). In Russia, we don’t have that.”
Faktura’s latest comes from an anonymous beat maker who calls himself S23. Described as a “dub techno-ambient” project, IX is a rich, somewhat minimalist, beat-oriented album. The Yekaterinburg native worked for three years on the album, producing a thoughtfully atmospheric recording.
The Faktura catalogue is not so much inherently Russian as it is modern European. We are witnessing a period of electronic music in which the emotion expressed is both personal and shared. Happy or sad, this work speaks to us as individuals, even as it connects us to one another across continents.
“Many people say that no matter where a person lives, globalization is now and music does not depend on the author’s location,” says Dultsev. “I do not believe in absolute globalization. Of course, Europe has a strong influence on us. But still, location is the basis from which the local culture [is produced] – its political situation, economics and social environment.”