Starting a review with a sentence as follows may be seen as an affront, but the surprise level only grows when the respective work is closely inspected, so here we go: Structure by Calgary-based multi-instrumentalist and field recordist Valiska aka Krzysztof Sujata is only an interim work and harbinger of an album yet to come, but still, do not miss this humble four-track EP if you can. Self-released on Bandcamp late in October 2013 where it is available to purchase and fully streamable, Sujata could have knocked on many a Drone- and Ambient-oriented label’s door to ask for some cooperative effort. He didn’t. A prolific veteran such as Valiska does not need to self-release his music anymore, but if he does, chances are that this material does not comprise of mere remainders from the archive, but sports the valuable complexion of serious gems which outshine even the corkers or vignettes gathered on his label-backed full-length works or long-form tracks. Sometimes, it is easier – and most of all more refreshing – to take matters in one’s own hands, to not blow up the proportions of a release in order to momentarily turn back to the blissful state of DIY. This is where Structure is situated in, inspired by Lebbeus Woods’ architectural drawings – as was Valiska’s Havana on his split release with Lcoma called Digital Architecture (2013) – and John Cage’s written anthology Silence (1961). Not necessarily Drone-driven due to pointillistic surfaces which are enmeshed as well, for example piano tones, Structure features four short works which present the virtue of superimposed textures. Pianos, organs and guitars are gathered together, but filters, frequency benders and other ornamental eutectics make sure to keep the listener entertained. This is no electro-acoustic work, as it tends much more to the first part of the hyphenated description. A euphonious entity for Ambient fans who want to bathe in moirés whose fiber-related entanglement invites the listener to both unravel it and to disentangle its overtones and masked accompaniments, Structure overcomes the lachrymosity and pondering depth Valiska’s music is known for… and blimey, the artist even succumbs to Rave-oid realms. Neonnnn!


The EP starts with a bang that is not even hinted at with a track title such as Structure I, but this is one gem to keep hold of. It is nothing less than a superb ode to the glistening Rave era complete with translucent laser beams and roaring sawtooth tigers buzzing on all bit-crushed cylinders. Yearning synth choirs (or processed guitars thereof), zestful zoetropes, static noise protrusions and plinking droplets are all ingredients of a typical Valiska tune, but here, their liaison turns into a cyberific looking glass of retrogressive futurism. Naturally, Krzysztof Sujata cannot give up the lament and particles of threnody, but the bustling scenery covers these traces of gloom efficiently. With no clear cut piano or guitar in sight and inside, I am more than willed to pinpoint the origin of all sources as synthetic. But what do I know? It is definitely a superbly glowing, very coruscating glitz blitz Valiska is unleashing, one where the blackness is incessantly illumined by libidinous lights and fiery flashes. Structure II seems to cross-fade into Structure I, but is more keen on electric guitar strata, angelic stardust helixes and glacial blisters. Genteel and forsaken piano tones have a short moment for themselves before they change their physiognomy into glacially jagged prongs of fragility and become enmeshed with cyclonic electric guitar tones. This is noisy Drone par excellence, but nothing could be more antagonistic than the tohubohu’s long afterglow which makes room for wondrously sentimental keys and stringed cavalcades.


Structure III aurally visualizes another – very different – approach, and I for one am almost saddened that this is the shortest tune of the EP, only barely crossing the two-minute-mark. It is very hazy, aqueous and lofty, shuttling between the aggregate phases by overlaying them, never giving up any of them for the other. The fluttering falsetto of the hymnic guitar drones is further ennobled by strikingly beatific piano vesicles which jump and tumble in pure euphony, emanating genteel mysteries and helical playfulness. Even in those moments where only phantom frequencies and figments of the main melody are heard, the composition succeeds. The main motif on the aquatic piano is so enchanting and supercharged with child-like wonders that it remains stuck in one’s head even when the song is long over. A masterful piece that has never been used in a Hayao Miyazaki movie, although by the look of things, it could, should and might have been. With Structure IV, Valiska’s fearful gem comes to a halt: this one is the feistiest, most voluminous hazescape with the usual complexions of isolated piano chords appearing together with gyrating guitar serpentines, but nevertheless emanating a haunting surge of emotion. Alloys of tape hiss, powerful overtones of contempt and warmth as well as harshly sizzling counterparts which eruptively cut through the mauve-tinged elysium, Structure IV is ablaze with thermal vortexes and moments of cessation.


Valiska seemingly belittles and exalts his EP via two markers: firstly by naming it Structure instead of Structures. The singular form hence stresses the utmost importance of the textural entanglement as the superior aesthetic standard of this work and every of its tracks, thus making sure that the same consistent rule and spirit is applied to every enmeshment. Secondly, the exclusion of micro stories – which are often hinted at in track titles – turns the viewpoint onto the textures or the structure, and nothing else. Naturally, there are reasons that led to this release as mentioned in the first paragraph and the explanatory notes, but other than these, it is refreshing to review a work whose, well, structure is situated above everything else, functioning as the towering entity rather than spawning multitudes of concepts, aimless conglomerates or collections of tracks. And granted, I would not want to miss one single fiber of the four arrangements. From the xeon-illuminated low frequency-traversed glowstick galore that is Structure I and the whitewashed ocean of nostalgia and apprehension called Structure II, over the strikingly Tetsu Inoue-esque crystalline forest pond of Structure III to the staggering warmth of the piano in the shapeshifting finale Structure IV, Valiska shines many a light on the interdependencies of the different patterns. The multitude of surfaces, the jagged harshness and occasional prongs that float through the EP are counterpoints to an almost audacious euphony and blissful elation. So make no mistake: these are no sound experiments à la Koji Kihara's as of yet unfinished and still growing A Study (2013). No mere leftovers or semi-finished globs are thrown at the listener in order to cash in big time. These are factually fully fleshed out enshrinements of rapture and mirth. You will not recognize this from the get-go when you approach the designedly jejune but precious front artwork or consider Structure's status as a self-released work. Indeed, artists like Valiska do not need to self-release anything ever again. So let me rephrase: once these artists do it nevertheless, it is less an act of defiance rather than the opportunity to surprise – and enthrall – with an appendix or interim work. And in this case, this interim work sports an additional ground rule: a structure.



Further listening and reading:

  • You can purchase and listen to Structure in full at Bandcamp
  • Follow Valiska on Twitter: @TheValiska.



Ambient Review 281: Valiska – Structure (2013). Originally published on Nov. 6, 2013 at