REVIEWS | Honey Meridian
Honey Meridian is the debut full length from Moscow musician Valentin Lakovley, under the project name Milinal.
This digital LP from Audiobulb records explores a number of aural landscapes, from dark haunted washes of
dissonant textural sounds to sonorous explosions of bright cheerful melodies. Lakovley drew on a broad
spectrum of sounds to create this album, including a number of instruments, voices and field recordings all
unified by melodic glitches, micro edited within an inch of their lives. The variety of source material adds to the
alchemical charm of Lakovleys composition, in which elements seem to continually transform themselves rather
than moving linearly through a sequence of movements.
Honey Meridian kicks off with a brief introduction that sounds like a prepared marimba played underwater,
transitioning elegantly into the four and a half minute masterpiece "Inside Sea Shells." This combo of understated
crunchy electronics complimented by obliterated vocal samples is one of the most unique songs I've heard in
years, primarily owing to the processing of the vocals. While the deconstruction of the human voice into digital
abstraction is a common occurrence in the world of electronica, it is safe to say no one has ever done it quite like
this. There is something truly alien about the feeling these disjointed, pitch-shifted vocals inspire, some quality that
cannot be discussed without resorting to insufficient metaphors. On that note, this song is either a Martian lullaby
carved on the inside of a melting glacier or a chorus of elf machines singing the national anthem of nowhere, but
either way it's bad ass.
While "Inside Sea Shells" is probably the best individual song, the album is consistently amazing from start to finish
From the delicate scraping strings of "Drift," to the pastoral IDM of "Brinta" to the lovely piano and tuneful whispers
of "Artificial and Yellow," each track represents a distinct sonic environment worth a hundred revisits. On the
whole I prefer Honey Meridian's more melodic and structured moments to its ambient dronescapes, but the
overlapping waves of static laced samples on exploratory ventures such as "Stereo Fall of the Leaves" and
"Hurricane" are loads of fun as well.
This is such an impressive record that at times it is almost hard to believe it is a debut. Compositions this distinct
and mature usually come from multi album veterans, not 23 year old producers with one previous EP under their
belt! Cheers to Lakovley and the folks at Audiobulb for this great piece of music, I can't wait to hear what comes
St. Petersburg (Russia) based Valentin Yakovlev creates warm emotional electronica with triggered glitches and
tweaked out bleeps. And emotional electronica can not exist without emotion. With this in mind, this 23-year old
Russian sailor, releasing his debut full length under the moniker Milinal, enters the scene, drenching your neurons
in thick cerebral cocktail as prescribed by the IDM doctor. Haunting vocals ping-pong around the stereo field,
beneath the deconstructed guitars and soft synth pads. Micro programmed percussion pushes the rhythm
forward, while plucked guitar strings and processed sounds swirl around in a smoky whirlwind. Fans of that
Telefon Tel Aviv sound, looking for another treat in this post-glitch-everything world, will be especially delighted.
Other quoted influences for this record include Tim Hecker and Radiohead. Be sure to also check out Yakovlev’s
first 6-track EP, Folgefonna released by Siberian Electronica netlabel in 2009. This album deserves much more
attention, and it should be surely considered for everyone’s Best of 2010 lists!.
Audiobulb continue to offer up interesting developments on the electronica scene with this unusual new long-
player from Milinal. Honey Meridian asserts a sound that's all its own, slicing through filtered, ambient recordings
drawn from instruments and environmental noises. 'Inside Sea Shells' offers a pop song of sorts, glitching
through obliterated vocals in an oddly haunting, romanticized way, but subsequent tracks take us towards a
more experimental set of sounds. The clicky guitar string dissections of 'Bur In Sky Ya' are as ear-ticklingly
tuneful as they are elaborate and 'Stereo Fall Of The Leaves' is a wonderfully immersive soundscape in the
Tim Hecker mold, full of dense, foggy noise formations and pensive electroacoustic treatments. Recommended.
When picturing Russian sailors one would perhaps conjure images of rather grizzled, weather-beaten fellows
whose souls have likely taken such a beating through years of hard toil and harsh environments that they could
barely raise a smile, let alone create innovative music. And so enters Milinal (or Yakovlev Valentine to his
friends) to shatter this rather clichéd image. A twenty-three year old mariner, Valentine is releasing his debut
full length, Honey Meridian, through the always innovative electronic label Audiobulb, and it is safe to say that
it defies the warm and sweet connotations of its title to offer something dense, dark, and always interesting.
Honey Meridian is an exploration in electronic music, combining and documenting many different approaches
and sounds, and, thankfully, the result is surprisingly coherent. While it is a stretch to say that Valentine is
creating something truly new, it would certainly be fair to suggest that very few artists are making music that
sounds like this. That is not to say that there aren't influences to be heard. Intentional or not, I can’t help but think
of Telefon Tel Aviv when listening to some of the beats and glitches, and the drones and squalls of static noise
could easily be the work Tim Hecker. But these are just elements of the music - the structure and approach is
One thing that can be taken from the aforementioned references is an indication of the differing styles at work.
Second track "Inside Seashells" is a gentle ambient number with warm manipulated vocals. This glitch-heavy
piece represents one of the album's 'poppiest' moments, a fact highlighted by "Dirketoki," which finds Milinal in
much darker territory. Leading with what appears to be a dusty guitar sample, the beats and electronic
crackles move with more purpose and vigour. Milinal has moved into IDM territory here, and although ambient
elements remain, it is a marked change in pace. After the abstract interlude of "Drift" comes the album's
highlight and a real indication of what this young artist is capable of.
"Bur in Sky Ya" is as intoxicating and dreamy a track as we're likely to find all year. What one assumes is
distorted guitar cries beautifully over sweet and calming electronic beeps. As the track switches direction,
gorgeous string-plucked melodies come to the fore; all the while otherworldly voices and drones play off in
the background. Things sadly fail to reach these heights again, and the second half of the record is dominated
by a far more abstract approach. Although more minimal, the closing tracks still offer some joyous melodic
moments and an increase in noisy, distorted drones. Milinal finds a knack for pitching these noisy moments at
some mystical cerebral frequency that seemingly resonates at the same pitch as the meditative part of my brain
-- always stimulating total submersion and relaxation.
The overall impression left by Honey Meridian is one of depth and complexity. This is an example of densely
layered electroacoustic music: treated instrumentation layered over glitches and beeps, with drones, melodies,
and even voices thrown in for good measure. It can be intoxicating and overwhelming, but this range of sound
ensures that the music consistently delivers something new. It is a case of the old adage that each listen
reveals another aspect not appreciated at first, be it a hidden melody or a buried sample. At times the more
sparse arrangements feel slightly disappointing when compared to the more focused efforts, but there is a
strong ambient atmosphere that runs through the record. One can only imagine that it is perhaps the travels of
this Russian mariner that have inspired this otherworldly collection of songs.