An electrifying live-DJ hybrid set recorded in Moscow.
Sometime after releasing his second album in 2016, Russian producer Philipp Gorbachev became a church bell-ringer. Fascinated by the sounds and timbres produced by the behemoth instruments at Orthodox churches across Russia and Eastern Europe, he eventually incorporated his new discipline into 2019's excellent KOLOKOL LP. Imagined as an Eastern answer to Robert Hood's gospel techno as Floorplan, the KOLOKOL material immediately added new depth to Gorbachev and the renowned live sets he's been playing for the last five years.
His RA Podcast presents one of these such sets, recorded live at Moscow's massive Mutabor club. Featuring plenty of new material and live-only edits, it's basically a whole album's worth of Gorbachev material, with other selections from Barnt, Terence Fixmer and Anatoly Zorin, a Siberian artist whom Gorbachev will soon release on his PG Tune label. The hour-long recording not only outlines how electrifying Gorbachev's sound has become, but how well he incorporates the bells. Far from a gimmick, the bells come out in the rich timbres and the tension and release of the tracks—after all, is the pacing of a steady techno set that much different than a bell that vibrates and rings out for over 30 minutes at a time?
So strap in and listen for a different perspective on techno. As he outlines in the interview below, he's worked in recordings from over 100 churches, and learned from the bells, whose sense of decay and natural reverb have forever changed how he approaches the fundamentals of DJing.
What have you been up to recently?
Finding my own way to express spiritual experience into sound. Writing a debut film score. Really enjoying this.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix is a live recording from Mutabor during a hot club night run by System 108. I played Mutabor's main room during the club opening, and a dozen times since then, learning its acoustics and atmosphere. I think it is very inspiring to create a sound for a certain space on a constant basis. I am very happy such a place now exists in my hometown.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
It is inspired by my new life as a bell-ringer. Like a little solo rave version of KOLOKOL. Also this mix in a way sums up the live set up I have been using and adjusting on tour since 2016. Decks are replaced by drum machines, samplers and synths, all connected to the new Allen & Heath DJ mixer as separate six channels. Perhaps it's technically similar to Richie Hawtin's CLOSE performance, but a lot different music-wise.
Can you explain the inspirations behind the KOLOKOL project more deeply, and how it differs from your regular work and how you incorporate it into your regular work?
Luckily enough, I met the Cómeme crew (Matias Aguayo and Rebolledo) more than a decade ago, who liked my music and put out my first records. This label, a group of friends, exploring dance music beyond the club industry—infamous street parties without boundaries—attracted me very much, as a natural context for new music.
With KOLOKOL, something similar happened. It opened a door into a new world. World of bell-ringers, world of huge bells, sounds as massive as a Mutabor or Berghain soundsystem. Especially in Covid-19 times, it gave me the option to continue creating noise on a daily basis. KOLOKOL audiovisual live was on stage at Mutabor club opening in May 2019, prime time at 3 AM. In that way, Moscow is a great place for certain non-orthodox approaches in the scene, as it offers exclusive spaces and has a very receptive audience.
You said this kind of live set was developed over years of performing. How has your approach to playing live changed and what have you learned?
I liked the idea to come to the club with my own way of performing. I love DJing but it felt for me always like channelling someone else's energy, instead of putting my own soul into the music. So I developed an approach that combines both: communication with the audience and original sound. More body movement, more jamming, no laptop.
Becoming a bell-ringer has taught me how to deal more accurately with time, rhythm and composition. I usually ring the bells for 15 to 30 minutes. All of the sounds on this set are mixed according to the new knowledge I collected while ringing bells in almost 100 churches and monasteries across Russia. Many tons of copper and tin, spreading complex vibrations across many kilometers, dictate how I use the EQ sections of the mixer, choose time for fading, drop new tracks, use the mic and add rhythms on top.
What are you up to next?
Waiting for a good moment to release on PG TUNE an absolutely wicked EP by a very talented artist from Siberia, Anatoly Zorin. His track "Aphel" is part of this mix by the way. Slowly planning rehearsals for a big KOLOKOL live audiovisual show, scheduled for fall 2021.