Valiska – On Pause

valiskaAfter yesterday’s post about Sven Laux and his CD’s turn away from distorted electronics, it’s fitting that we move next to an album that makes liberal – and effective – use of exactly that technique. Calgary’s Valiska has a new release for us called On Pause.

The LP snaps, crackles and pops like a synthesized breakfast cereal. Krzysztof Sujata’s creative destruction of his source material is every bit as instrumental to the success of On Pause as is the Moog Sub 37 he performs on.

Sujata’s promo sheet describes the work as reflective of a “series of life-changing events that occurred between 2016 and 2017 … [a] journey of loss and upheaval.”

Not the least bit maudlin, the album delivers a touching portrayal of an emotional breakdown in the digital age. It is unsettling, uplifting and wholly relatable.

There are multiple highlights. The album opens with a piercing synth line on “Heavy Riser” that will put you on edge right from the start. That’s followed by “Softness,” featuring a prayerful vocal reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ. (Check out his reprise of “Of These, Hope.”)

Some of the most interesting effects are on “Across a City, Across a Country.” It is the album’s loneliest moment, which is saying something. Even at this low ebb though, there’s a beauty in Sujata’s work that demands we care.

Sujata’s finishes with “Forever,” a kind of new beginning after the “Interlude” that precedes it. The piece feels like a fresh start, one that makes whatever comes after On Pause worth looking forward to.

Kevin Press

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