Sounds Of Sputnik is the brainchild of Roman Kalitkin; one of many promising acts to emerge from Russia in recent times. It actually transpires Kalitkin is something of an old hand with twenty years service to post punk and shoegaze to his name. Here, he teams up with Ukranian duo Ummagma (who themselves produced two excellent, eclectic albums in 2013) to present ‘New Born’; drawing on a myriad of genres and contributors in the process.
‘New Born’ sets the album off to a flyer with an addictive keyboard riff, bruising guitars and some strident vocals from Ummagma’s Shauna McLarnon. It’s an impressive multi-layered tune even if hearing it in five alternative versions is possibly stretching it a little. Nevertheless, some big names have been roped in to lend their hands, most notably OMD producer Malcolm Holmes. For the soaring ‘Light Scheme’, Alex Kretov and McLarnon team up on some lovely, interweaving harmonies backed up by Kalitkin’s dreamy backdrops. Although this album was released in the summer, ‘Blizzard’ seems so seasonally appropriate now and its fuzzy, experimental leanings and the doomy, post rock flavour which informs ‘Shades Of The Cosmos’ show the quality of Kalitkin’s production credentials. That said, it is still the vocal-led songs which stand out the most, exemplified by the final original offering; a lively Lush-like offering named ‘Overdrive’.
The remainder of the album concerns itself with the alternate mixes. Even considering each variation of ‘New Born’ adds something extra (‘Morozov’s glitchy beats, Oleg Mezherovsky’s excitable techno and a crispy, crunchy performance from the aforementioned Holmes), the Sputnik remix – thanks to its employment of pulsing dance beats and plenty of echo – is possibly the most memorable version. As for the alternate takes on ‘Light Scheme’, Fran Ashcroft takes this already euphoric song to an even dreamier level whilst Brazil’s Mind Movies evolve and morph the original into a busy psychedelic concoction.
Granted, ‘New Born’ may have benefited from a few more original tracks but the multiple versions are each worth more than just a cursory listen. Moreover, Kalitkin and his helping hands have put together a bright and consistently fascinating album.
Ummagma, Broken Social Scene, Elika, Lush