Repetitions is the first big release of Calgary-based multi-instrumentalist and modern classical composer Krzysztof Sujata aka Valiska in 2015, an eight-track epitome of graceful electro-acoustic mica released in August on the artist’s own Bow Bottom Records imprint, named after the Bow River near the artist’s home and, for the moment, reserved for Valiska’s constructions only. Available on a limited run of cassettes and unlimited download versions at Bandcamp, Valiska offers a viewpoint whose angular momentum is less fond of a gravitational redshift as before. Don’t be bewildered by the crestfallen front artwork: in lieu of a charcoal-hued ergosphere, a sensorial microlensing takes place, waking the apprehension of – and whetting the appetite for – beautiful melodies that are awash with light.


Okay, so Valiska creates an incandescent album; is this a big deal? I think so, yes. Having visited his relatives in Poland for the first time since the early 90’s and confronting historic sites such as Auschwitz with natural landmarks like the Baltic Sea, Repetitions oscillates between the barometric poles and opposite standpoints. The nullpoint or innermost sanctuary, depending on one’s point of view, is neither nihilistic nor over(t)ly joyous. Somehow I’m lucky enough to absorb the more positive tones and magnificent tendencies of the melodies. Guitars are less transparently used on this album, Valiska’s forte remains the piano which is now acompanied by a clarinet, possibly making Repetitions the first instance in which the latter instrument is used. The album title could be seen as dangerous, given how dubious the concept of repetition is in the latest Ambient music and modern classical structures, but according to Valiska, he “was playing around with ideas of musical and compositional repetition, each piece using it in some way or another,” and that’s why textural, melody- and surface-related markers and ideas reappear in an otherwise versatile-as-usual immersion. Here, then, is a meticulous look at Repetitions and its eight tracks.


Clearing is the gateway to a hatched world, and the realization that Repetitions begins on a positive helicoidal note is remarkable. Piano-accentuated fermions, cautiously pentatonic jitters that are aflutter and a semi-mournful clarinet in the epicenter. Valiska is known for his deconstructions which eventually both harm and ennoble the scenery, but the opener is notably diaphanous and cohesive in terms of its comparatively mellow physiognomy. Pauses and fading arabesques augment the sequences of longform vignettes further. The adjacent Glide is then perfectly juxtaposed style-wise, boosting a matutinal-estival feeling of piano punctilios and heterodyned clarinet crystals hued in energetic organ-esque flumes during the latter half of its existence.


It is the third track Snow which ventures into classical Valiska territory: introvert, withdrawn and remote, the formerly fluvial landscapes are now showing their periglacial pyroxene, with the piano sequences carrying a gelid gravitas that is fittingly amplified by the droning magnetotails of simmering sinews and various electropositive fractals. Tension without conniption, petrifying standstill via fluvio-lacustrine cave pearls: a hibernal troposphere. Lost, meanwhile, uncovers a not so unexpectedly soothing-oneiric gamut of washed out droplets and orographic protrusions that first surfaced on Valiska’s SoundCloud account. Why the mellow megafauna? Because our artist from Calgary found this long-lost song after almost accidentally deleting it, so it does most certainly not depict a crestfallen catch–22. Instead, salubrious rhizomes and adaxial helictites outshine the darker edges, though the latter constituents are at home in the following Dawn: cerulean chords, piercing sirens and ice-cold centrioles pave the way to further ancillary routes until the last third bursts at the seams due to an arpeggiated retinue of lo-freq blebs, sawtooth tendrils and square lead saprotrophs echoing high above the polyvalent syncytium.


Diving ever-furher into the bewildering ambivalence of Repetitions, the sixth track Held is particularly fond of faux-luminosity. Being more of an ignis fatuus or volatile-violent flare than a guardian light, its rhenium-alloyed shooting stars and amethystine guitar granuloma – while beautifully open to scrutiny – actually lead to tone sequences of a clandestine cloak-and-dagger mentality, fog-fueled surges of tawny silver and reticulations of tape hiss. To me, benignancy and amicability are graspable throughout the arrangement, but it is a multifaceted piece for sure. The penultimate Reflections then fathoms the alkaliphilic scintillation of a presumably reversely played spectral chirality which is itself superimposed onto warmhearted fibroblasts, before the endpoint Escape offers yet another example of weirdly twisted reciprocation. Here, it is the track title that gives hope and provides a chance to overthrow the catenae. The agglutinated arrangement, however, is a chimera and features – in the last possible instance – Valiska’s trademark bursts and overdriven scythes amidst spine-tingling streams of sorrow. Escaping is a project, and projected it is indeed. It’s much more surreal than real within the boundaries of the album.


The heartbreaking finale notwithstanding, Repetitions is aglow with wonder and awe in lieu of, say, the similarly oft-quoted pairing “shock and awe.” It still encompasses, encapsulates and spreads Krzysztof Sujata’s approach of granularity, acidic boosts and other chloroderivative devices, but this aural topiary seemingly – and seamlessly – transmutes into a cathexis. Now widened by aqueous phytotelemata, keys of mutual understanding and gregarious encounters within the rivulets of contemplation and loneliness, Repetitions is not only the ancestor but concestor to albums such as Shifts or the industrial/organic longform diffeomorphism A Day As A Blade Of Grass (both 2013), marrying their purposeful destructions and talon-ic sound sculptures with the enigmatic-ecclesiastic La Tourette (2014)… only to then reveal chord progressions of shimmering beauty. You don’t have to peek behind the curtain: the orthochromaticity is the immersive counterpoint to the album’s portentous back story and bleak artwork. Repetitions shows Krzysztof Sujata’s less labyrinthine side. Whatever this means to the respective listener or even the artist himself, to me it translates into a distant happiness and clear opening on one's way. It might only be an approximation thereof, but thankfulness and commemoration are radiated through every tercet and polyphonic element.


Further listening and reading: 


Ambient Review 446: Valiska – Repetitions (2015). Originally published on Aug. 12, 2015 at