In what proves to be another solid release from Berlin’s audacious record label, Project: Mooncircle, December 2012 saw a special-edition re-release of Long Arm’s 2011 album The Branches. The surreal atmosphere of the highly textural sounds with which the St. Petersburg-based IDM artist weaves his images is perfectly captured in the album’s artwork by Bioniq and Roman Pokrovskii. Offering a satisfying selection of remixes in this expanded release, The Branches begs to be considered once more as a hallmark for both Long Arm and Project: Mooncircle.
An initial gauge of The Branches reveals that many similarities can be quickly drawn across the board from the glitch-mastery of Flying Lotus to the metropolitan ambiance of Quantic. In the introductory sequence of the piano-laced opening track, ”Power of Rain”, and its thematic bleeding into “The Waterfall Inside Me”, it can be tempting to dismiss Long Arm (Georgy Kotunov) as pulling too much influence from outside sources and not developing enough of an individually identifying sound. Divorcing Long Arm from these comparisons, however, characterizes The Branches as a thoroughly enjoyable, atmospheric and detail-oriented album. The subtlety of Long Arm’s layering is heard in the second track’s discreet current of bass. Fleeting surprises are rendered with a touch of guitar and even a hint of accordion.
“Double Bass” captures what feel like the brackets around one extended moment in a track that is more like a well-executed and understated theme than an independent song. Long Arm incorporates moody sampling of swing in “After 4AM”, which undeniably feels like a mellow Parov Stelar. Accents of industrial scrapes serve as small elements in solidifying The Branches as an entirely urban soundtrack. “Perfect Morning” picks up the transitional-piece ambiance where “Double Bass” left off, its quiet mist of static coated by sunny punctuation and the brief suggestion of a cavernous metro.
Despite the insinuations of “Perfect Morning”, there is no explicit time-frame which The Branches evokes. Individual songs are often split into moods that alternately drift as seamlessly or conspicuously as they might in a big city. The sleepy development of morning is obviously present, pitched in against the momentary rush of a crowd, idling away into the electric hum of evening, and packing the punch of a bustling night. With every passing track, The Branches unfolds like a journey.
“When Children Sleep” offers a touch of dimly humourous vocal sampling in a track that does more with its unobtrusive brass melody and hushed beats to extend a restful instant than to fill it. This opens nicely into “Key Door”, where Long Arm is more adventurous in his creation of an uplifting sense of movement and vaguely Oriental accessory. This is easily his most dynamic track, beautifully blending the theatricality of a classic spy-flick with the closure of transcendent light-infused moments. “Dummy” briefly encounters motifs familiar to dubstep, before slipping into a surreal mirage of whirring, flickering, clacking, pattering, and chattering.
With its use of slowly pulsating magnetic bass, “The Branches” is an excellent track with which to end the album. Long Arm builds anticipation for the introspective rhyme of UK’s Teknical Development, who now forms one-half of Project: Mooncircle’s Obba Supa. “No fears but the one to accept this place and return to realities of mixed expressions / Sentient, but now we’re floating, pure energies, feeling the vibrations” colours Long Arm’s jazz-infused textures, pronouncing “The heart sings for the purpose of my new steps”.
It is with this title-track that Long Arm puts a firm stamp on his ability to create and maintain atmosphere. Whether it is a scene imagined, filmed, or spoken, there is always a fullness of picture in Long Arm’s work. This closing track effortlessly puts him in the same field as the introspective collaborations of BLS and Unorthodox on Project: Mooncircle’s 2010 album by The Q4, Sound Surroundings, marking a solid step in consistency for the record label itself and a defining a niche for Long Arm. The detailed composition of The Branches demonstrates that Long Arm has the capability to produce more than a superficial release that emulates similar artists, showing a potential that is sure to be taken swift notice of.
For more information on Long Arm:
Website: Long Arm (with Project: Mooncircle)
“The Branches” Deluxe Edition (2012): Project: Mooncircle
“The Branches” (2011): Project: Mooncircle
Bandcamp: The Branches, album.