/ EPs

Mikhail Kadomtsev's Ensemble of Electronic Musical Instruments and Ekvodin Quartet - Concert [Мелодия , 1961, EP]

I really wanted to write this post in January of 2021. However, due to issues with the blog software that took a very long time to resolve, the post has instead been delayed all the way until now, and it seems there is another copy of this recording floating around. However, since mine is of superior quality with less clipping, I still find it prudent to finally sit down and write what I wanted to, as well as provide a download link as per usual.

In the middle of a sleepless night brought on by the multifarious pressure of COVID lockdowns, a somewhat unsteady home situation and the toll of permanent WFH, something magical happened. I got a Discogs message at 3 AM. Normally these are either updates on my wantlist, or the very occasional sale from a shop I'd done business in the past, but here it was, very late at night, a message from a DJ in Kazakhstan with the title "Ekvodin":

Maybe you are interested in this records?

I was instantly captivated. Yes! Of course I was interested! There's so few recordings of the Ekvodin that actually tell you they're the Ekvodin, so I jumped at the chance, no matter what the cost was, no matter how hard it would be to ship it.

Our friend in Kazakhstan offered reasonable rates and fast shipping. Five stars.

It didn't take long before I obtained the record. Just like our previous exploration of the Ekvodin, the record came in a perfectly plain generic Melodiya sleeve, with the price striked out and "уценненая" (discounted) stamped with a big sticker. It seems that whoever had previously tried to sell this before it came into the hands of our Kazakhstani accomplice did not really see much value in it, and I can understand why, as the history of the Ekvodin is often told in hushed tones and old documents, despite being a profoundly visionary instrument predating the Moog revolution by almost 30 years. I personally was just excited to get a full EP of the stuff; as fun as the demonstration of the previous record was, I wanted to see more of what Mikhail Kadomtsev's group could do with the instrument. In particular, the fact that the first track on Side A was composed by him intrigued me - the Suite he composed and performed as part of the Ekvodin Quartet on side B of the Ekvodin Demonstration Record was impeccable, delightful and very memorable, and I wanted more.

I cleaned the record, and I put the needle down.

Haunting bells, then the characteristic sound of Ekvodin strings. A perfectly set scene, reverberating powerfully - was this recorded in a big hall? - as we fall into a sweet waltz more than an elegy. I knew immediately that, noise and all, this was worth sharing.

The other song on side A is a strange, pulsing mazurka from Aleksey Muravlev, someone who I found almost nothing on beyond a singular album that got taken off YouTube because of a terminated account. Very sad, as I wanted to see what kind of piano pieces Mr. Muravlev did later on in life. It is, again, a great demonstration of the Ekvodin's capabilities - if you put this as a film soundtrack of the era, due to the limitations in optical sound recording at the time, it would be hard to distinguish from a "real" orchestra by your average listener, and I think that speaks to the strengths of the Ekvodin of sounding almost in the uncanny valley of what "real" strings sound like, something we wouldn't get again for many, many years later due to the known (and thoroughly enjoyed) artificiality of the Moog and the early FM synthesis from Yamaha.

Side A is much shorter than Side B. Side B is traditional Russian songs (Кукует Кукушечка and Зимушка-Зима) and Pushkin's Waltz in C# minor from Prokofiev. These are themselves also well-executed, though they are presented differently as being the "Ekvodin Quartet" without a mention of director Kadomtsev. Since on the Demonstration Record it was made clear that Kadomtsev was performing alongside the Ekvodin Quartet, I believe that this is the same case here. Still, we hear a lot of the similar voices, and I think these are very well-executed; the winter scene brought to mind by Кукует Кукушечка is as crystal clear as the best renditions I've heard.

Overall, I enjoyed this little taste a lot, and I am glad to have more clear Ekvodin sounds to share with you all. I hope you give it as much love as the previous record got on YouTube, and that we can all bring a little more love to this beautiful instrument.

Liner Notes

None this time! Comes in a generic sleeve. Everything will be in the next section.

Track List and Rip

Side A is credited to Ансамбль Электронных Муз. Инструментов, Дирижер М. Кадомцев while Side B is credited to Квартет Экводинов. Per the Demonstration Record, Kadomtsev is playing as part of the Quartet on Side B rather than directing.

The date of this pressing is confirmed by the fact that Melodiya kept impeccable and consistent catalog numbering for every single release from 1933 through to 1991, and we can therefore slot Д-0008913 squarely as a late release for 1961 according to this table on rockdisco.lv. This is likely to be a post-1964 reissue of a 1961 recording, as the different record plants in the USSR didn't merge until 1964, and our previous Ekvodin recording wasn't on Melodiya at all.

A1 - Элегия (composer Mikhail Kadomtsev)
A2 - Мазурка-Каприс (composer Aleksey Muravlev)
B1 - Кукует Кукушечка (traditional)
B2 - Зимушка-Зима (traditional)
B3 - Пушкинский Вальс (Ми Минор) (Pushkin Waltz in C# minor, composer Sergei Prokofiev)

A short but sweet time to be had. I'm glad I can share beautiful gems like this with the world.

Get the album HERE!