Ugansie is the name under which Russian musician Pavel Malyshkin creates his art, which is called dark polar ambient. Border of Worlds is his fourth release since he started making this kind of music in 2010. This one is focused on the people of the tundra and the north, portraying a shaman’s inner journey as he seeks the ability to traverse between the physical and spirit worlds.
If you like drone or ambient or dark experimental music, Border of Worlds is for you. If you just want something spooky to play in your haunted house at Halloween, ditto.
Here’s how the album is described on Ugansie’s page of the CryoChamber website (and possibly in the album’s liner notes as well):
The Nenets, Tungus, Eveneki, Yakut share many beliefs and in the center stands the shaman. We follow him through his inner journey while tackling shaman’s disease. Clouded consciousness and hysterical stupor clear signs of the Amanita Mushroom. His sweat covered body feverish while pulled to the lower world of spirit. Here his weathered body cut and torn to pieces by the spirits who cook and devour it. Meanwhile in the dim lit hut the shaman’s body starts bruising while the tribe watches over him. Reborn, the Shaman awakens, granted powers to traverse between worlds. With the gift to cure his tribe of sickness, to control animals and commune with the spirits.
Malyshkin creates his soundscapes with a combination of field recordings and synthesizers plus musical instruments associated with the north, including guitar, a harp called khomus, the clay Belarusian flute called the ocarina, and the zhaleyka, a Belarusian folk wooden flute.
To get those ambient sounds he spent a lot of time above the Arctic Circle, including one six-month stint on the Yamal Peninsula in Northwestern Siberia.
Most of the works on this album consist of a dominant noise track of cold arctic wind, with varying layers of bass and treble drone noises. Whistles and thumps and rustling sometimes briefly intrude, and other drones both high and low occasionally start off softly, build to a crescendo and then slowly fade. Muffled human chanting in an unintelligible tongue comes and goes. It’s the kind of sound environment in which you can lose yourself, which is the point. It’s meditative to a certain degree, although some of the soundscapes or brief parts of them are intended to induce dread rather than calm.
Personally, I love it. I was introduced to electronic music in the early 1970s with the experimental compositions of Morton Subotnick, to which Ugansie’s work bears at least a passing resemblance.
Here is the album’s first track, “White Death.”
And you can learn more about Ugansie on the CryoChamber website.