It is almost criminal that Valentina Goncharova doesn’t have much purchase in the general consciousness; maybe this timely reissue of her Symphony For Electric Violin And Other Instruments in 10+ Parts will change that, I argue in The Quietus.

If Sisters With Transistors ever gets a sequel, one of its protagonists should be Valentina Goncharova – an outstanding violinist and experimentalist, barely present in the wider consciousness. The most intensive period of her work took place in the 1980s, in Tallinn, Estonia (where she still lives today) making it difficult for her to reach the public with her music both at home and in Ukraine, where she was born, and in the wider world. Ocean, Goncharova’s outstanding, timeless album recently reissued by Hidden Harmony – first released in 1989 by Leo Records in London under the title Document: New Music From Russia – The 80’s – finally has a chance to change that. 

As Goncharova admitted in an interview with Lucia Udvardyova, she aimed to energise music not through volume but through changing the music itself: looking for new structural possibilities, new colours and rhythmic combinations. Ocean illustrates this idea brilliantly as she moves with ease between classical music, experimentation, minimalism, drone music and improvisation on standard and non-standard instruments. This outsider, outlandish effort seems very modern even today.

I am attracted to the strangeness of this music and its intriguing atmosphere, but at the same time, I do not have the feeling that Ocean has grown old. It sounds very up-to-date – maybe because of the analogue sound and simple production techniques. 

Full review:

Reissue Of The Week: Valentina Goncharova’s Ocean