Born in Poland but now based out of Calgary, Canada, Valiska creates gritty, overcast soundscapes inspired by the likes of Tim Hecker, Rafael Anton Irisarri, and Grouper. Although his hometown is often overshadowed by other Canadian cities such as Montreal, Valiska has been part of an insular but slowly expanding scene, exploring strands of experimental drone and ambient.
On Pause is Valiska’s most personal work to date, and consists of eight tracks that recount a series of life-changing events that occurred between 2016 and 2017. Charting this journey of loss and upheaval, the music is melancholic and at times painfully stark but does not dwell in dischord – with passages of optimism, hope, and even fleeting euphoria.
“Most experiences have different layers to them, things that used to be infuriating can become running jokes or fond memories – the album reflect this complexity and should connect to a listener’s memories or experiences. To me, it’s also not a sombre or gloomy album for the most part, maybe introspective, but rarely in a sad way.”
This LP takes a sound palette used in previous works with the Moog Sub 37 synthesizer, which takes centre stage on the album, using tape looping techniques to build progression and variety in simple melodic ideas. The sound put through tape distorts and fractures as it disintegrates under its unpredictable materiality. Working with the confines presented by the medium, the album possesses both a structural and aesthetic clarity all brought together by the wash of analog hiss, crackles and warps.
Valiska has always produced everything himself, sourcing his own original recorded samples and sound recordings. Part of the album’s haunting aura comes from his vocal parts (such as in ‘Softness’). Inspired by the music of Philip Glass and Steve Reich, who typically created instrumental music without effects or processing, Valiska refrained from heavy post-processing, limiting adjustments to scant reverb and delays.
The word ‘valiska’ translates from Polish as “suitcase”, and refers to ‘journey’ – however one wants to interpret that. Narrative is central to the architecture of Valiska’s work, but it is the careful balance between the storytelling and the sonic aesthetics that brings coherence to the finished pieces. The result is an acutely engaging LP and an at times challenging but ultimately hugely rewarding listening experience.
On Pause will be released physically and digitally October 13th 2017.
Valiska’s ‘Processed’ radio show airs bi-weekly on CJSW 90.9FM in Calgary.
| | valiska.com