Originally from Pakistan, drone artist and multi-talented producer Roman Kharkovsky receives the bulk of his musical inspiration from personal experiences and travels across the world. In recent years, the electronic composer finds a considerable amount of inspiration coming from his spiritual connection to the land of Ukraine. Kharkovsky’s daring, yet brilliantly conceived album titled Rituals remains to be one of the most enchanting collections of dark ambient sound and drone music to date.
Rituals is an eclectic album filled with otherworldly soundscapes cloaked in delightful layers of gothic resurgence. Mysteriously, we find that all of the album’s compositions are left untitled, which is primarily due to Kharkovsky’s astral perspective. Basically, knowing places in one’s travels but not their names. Everything on this album is where it should be once we know who we are inside. With a mental backpack full of electronic instrumentation and a spreadsheet of unorthodox musical theories, Rituals is Kharkovsky’s celebrated effort that emulates the brilliance of drone music at the crossroads of survival. It’s the only musical work that electrifies this concept in the structure of each composition on the album.
Rituals: Track by Track ReviewTrack 1- Untitled begins with an industrial lead that quickly branches off into an open field of a sustaining symphonic mist that covers the boundaries of the track. A subtle wind of noise begins to pick up speed in the middle of Kharkovsky’s first selection as a melodious storm approaches with a hazy overcast. Personally, I doubt that anyone can escape its rain. Towards the end of this harvest track, we are led by Kharkovsky through musical to witness a conversation taking place between the clouds before the storm. Perhaps, there will be no rain even though it was in the forecast of man’s memory.
Track 2- Untitled begins with noises on a lighter tone than Rituals’ opening track. From the morning shower to catching the bus for work, Kharkovsky lets us know that it truly is all the same sound. The tide is high and not too far in the distance are children playing in a nearby park, a most impressionable image indeed. Untitled (track 2) is very cerebral. Musically, our bodies are captured in an amusement park’s water ride that no one wants to leave. What’s intriguing about this track is the speckles of sunshine that sits in the center of all the other sonic elements revolving around its light.
Track 3- Untitled begins with the affairs of nightlife. Different from the previous selections, Untitled (track 3) starts with bright keys on a bright note. However, as the track progresses we are led into the vision of a militant hypothesis of street artists, who use their talents to sustain themselves and fight against fascist ideologies. Boundless humanitarian efforts can sometimes leave you bare, but when change is induced there is a reason for celebration.
Take a deep breath as you jump off the cliff of reason in order to enter Track 4- Untitled. Investigation of our dreams and deepest yearnings is as far away as the most distant planet in our solar system. Track 4 is cynical in its noise sequence and a bit darker than the previous workings of the album. Still, we find this track to be an intense version of what the president has to do before he gets called out.
Shifting through the terrain of our day-to-day experiences, we face what is called common knowledge without passion. The needs of passion are thoroughly examined in the musical sentences that Track 5- Untitled explores. I found this composition to be one of Rituals’ gems. Our ability to navigate through this life is found in daydreaming.
Track 6- Untitled is a long highway that only southern bikers are allowed to travel upon. The road is that moment in time when you remember who you are and how some of your dreams eroded away due to a lack of sleep. If the bees are still here safe and sound, then so are we. The music gives birth to an awkward horizon that each of us can understand in our own way.
Track 7- Untitled embellishes a dark richness that is haunting and somewhat introspective. The sounds of a broom sweeping time are a brilliant display of Roman Kharkovsky’s ingenuity as a producer. Rituals final selection, Track 8- Untitled ends this cinematic album on a meditative note. Another door opens in the spiritual journey that is both mystical as much as it is cerebral.
Overall, Rituals is drone music’s first masterpiece! Its contents are captivating, not only to those who have ambient appetites but even to mainstream music enthusiasts. Many spiritualists will find this album suitable for their work in meditation and ritual. Roman Kharkovsky is still ahead of his time. Rituals was first released in 2010. This album is a must-have for devotees of avant-garde works, which includes the likes of Dead Can Dance, Krautrock, and Spacemen 3. After listing to the album, it is easy to see how Rituals actively takes a life of its own. Its minimalistic haikus and prose are full of wisdom. Bravo!