Galaktlan: Constance (Seksound, 2017)
Enter the world of space carnivals and children’s playful dreams where they explore sci-fi planets. For me, this is the essence of Galaktlan’s Constance on my first listens and without any context given to me. There is a certain amount of innocence here but this innocence is deceiving. The depth of the compositions points to much more as it moves from formless ambience to almost electro-orchestral moments. Taavi Laatsit is the talent behind Galaklan’s electronic adventures and has stated that his inspiration comes from the fictional worlds of Alexandre Dumas. Specifically, Laatsit is entranced by the character of Constance Bonacieux from The Three Musketeers and her relationship with D’Artagnan. So, perhaps we might say sci-fi swashbuckling? I’ll say this much, Laatsit is brilliant in communicating a fictional world through sound without any given context. From “Axister” to “Zolushka”, he entrances the listener and evokes in their minds a cinematic soundscape.
When you enter the soundscapes of Constance and begin to explore, you are invited with dreamy drones and bright, almost bell-like synth patterns in “Axister”. It’s difficult to put into words, but the percussion that joins in the mix is adventurous, conjuring movement and exploration. Blips and other synth noises dot the soundscape as you are ushered into Laatsit’s soundstories. “Kindralmidi” begins with strumming guitar and warm, swelling synth. A ghost like tone creeps about while the drums play a bright, syncopated beat. Otherworldly is a perfect description here as the synths join in more formed melodies and create a wondrous sci-fi feel. This is the wide-eyed curiosity of true exploration and not the stuff made of recent dystopic sci-fi horror.
“Mode” continues along a whimsical path with undulating synths and a soothing beat. Tweet-like sounds play along with floating layers and delayed, bright notes. After I had listened to Constance multiple times, this track stood out to me as that piece that defined its sci-fi feel. It is spacey and almost alien in many ways. At 4:52, a chorus of voices ring out in breathy dreaminess to give the otherworldliness of the track even more depth. It’s a beautiful way to finish out “Mode”. “Laanetquse Suvi” has a more techno feel with deep, electronic drums and drone like synths. Guitar plays a melody, floating over the techno-floor. Vocals dot the soundscape, not in words, but simply in singing out a tonal melody alongside the guitar. This changes up the sort of palette Laatsit has played with so far on the album, adding depth to an already ambitious set of pieces.
“Sünnipäev” is sparse and patient. Drones provide a backdrop to ghostlike, warbling synths and slowly dancing, bright notes. The melody evokes moments of tenderness between lovers. Eventually, the music-box style synth is enveloped by the droning synth and the soundscape becomes quite formless, with rumbles and swelling tones. “Turbulents” changes this up with almost disturbing sounds at its beginning and a rumbling, aggressive beat. It’s a repetitive piece that is hypnotic, with variations only slighting appearing throughout. The last moments of the track are just gorgeous as the beats and synths peel back to reveal a beautiful, underlying drone, unadulterated and pure.
“Crystal” hits the floor running with heavy drones and a vigorous beat. The drones play against the beat as they patiently unfold, moving about slowly in spite of the beat’s insistence. Laatsit once against lends vocal melodies that are buried deep in the mix. A horn plays along with his vocal melody, mimicking it as he sings along. As the beats move forward, undaunted, the synths begin to warble a bit and horn plays the melody, full and present. “Foor” brings the listener back to that space of wonder with Galaktlan’s spacy synths and rumbling drones. The adventure returns to movement, traversing soundscapes of bubbling keys and sci-fi, otherworldly sounds. It’s a wonderful track that leads the sonic traveler toward the end of this momentous aural journey.
“Please Me” has jazzy percussion, which is very different than what is found on the rest of the album. It’s organic rather than the more electronic drums on the rest of Constance. Drones and walls of sound swirl about as the drums trip along in an elegant and complex beat. There are still sci-fi elements found here, but the organic drums bring in different flavors to the mix. This is Laatsit’s brilliance. He is able to take these seemingly similar moments and really change things up by varying textures and tones while slipping in and out of otherworldly, synthetic sound and organic instruments. “Zolushka” really does feel like a finale to this sonic adventure as it begins with the melody of a music box and then pipe organ fills the speakers. Our adventure is ending and the leader of that adventure, Laatsit, is returning the listener to a childlike awe but not entirely. The spacey drones and simple melodies really betray a knowing that one only has after completing a grand, epic adventure. Vocals ring out, in Russian as they echo amid the ethereal tones of the drones.
Constance moves the listener through a sonic journey of epic proportions. From innocents to knowing, Laatsit leads like a seasoned aural guide, moving the listener through far-reaching soundscapes to intimate, pensive moments. Galaktlan proves that Laatsit is a consummate composer and Constance demonstrates that he can take sonic threads and weave them into aural pieces that evoke cinematic images and feelings. I invite all lovers of music to go on this journey as soon as they can. Originally, Constance was released in 2005 by Kohvirecords and will be released on Seksound for the first time on limited vinyl March 20, 2017.
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