Interview: Eugene Voronovsky (Cisfinitum)

Photo by Yana Smolina

01. Can you still remember the day when Cisfinitum saw daylight and came to existence?

Cisfinitum came to existence approximately 20 years ago. It was probably in 1996 that I started recording something with a tape recorder, these were my first industrial recordings, but the start of the project was probably marked by very first published tape All Women Must Be Pregnant compilation. Prior to a French label Nostalgie de La Boue re-releasing those tapes quite recently, it had never been published as a digital release before.

02. A whole bunch of musicians have participated in Cisfinitum. Who are they? What is the current cast of the project?

At the very beginning it was just me and my equipment. Later on I met some guys who I did a bunch of collaboration albums with. A couple of early albums were done with Alex Tsarev, Eugene Soloviov, Richardas Norvila and Inna Echoes. Some records were done with the famous Roman Sidorov of Staruha Mha. Some other renowned Russian industrial musicians were involved as well. I've been carrying on as a solo project ever since 2004, so it's been more than 10 years of mostly playing alone. So now it's just me and my imaginary friends.

03. Cisfinitum's bandcamp has a lot of your records available for free download. Which ones would you personally recommend?

It's pretty hard to recommend anything in particular. I want to just invite everyone interested in Dark Ambient to my page. I am very happy to share my old records with everybody because I like sharing my music. All the records on my page meet my standards of quality, so I am unable to pick favorites.

04. Tell us about your live recorded for Data.Wave. What's is this live about, where it was recorded?

It is called LAZodaPeLaMeDaZodaZodaZodILaZodUOLaTaZodaPeKALaTaNuVaDaZodaBeReTa. It's Enochian, and it's one of the names of the Absolute in the Angelic Language. Project Cisfinitum is quite visionary and mystical, you know. At times there have been references to Daniil Andreyev and Yury Mamleev. That's the music of visionary landscapes and enlightenments. The new material has not become an exception to that, at the basis of it lies the concept of Morgenheutegesternwelt, the tomorrow-today-yesterday world. This music contains elements of futuristic, digital pulsating techno-ambient-dub and it's also based on the early Christian monody and the music of Josquin des Prez and Guillaume de Machaut. This bears no connection to music like Enigma (haha), it rather is an alchemical marriage of yesterday, today and tomorrow European cultural heritage. 

Cover by Andrey Bondarenko

05. You have a collection of Japanese Noise on vinyl records. How long ago did you start this hobby and what attracts you to this kind of music?

It is not as true as you might think. I just happen to have a couple of items, so I can't really present myself as a collector at all. It's true that I am fond of some Japanese artists but I am just a listener, not a collector. This interest of mine began when I attended a concert where I discovered this entire genre, so I've accumulated a bunch of vinyls and CDs but not more than that.

06. Have you ever been to Japan?

Yes I have! I had a the privilege of performing on a big stage with an orchestra. It was a concert that was organized by the famous Japanese concert agency Min On. It was a big tour around all the important concert halls of Japan (in Kyoto, Tokyo, Hokkaido and many others). I even bought there a synthesizer and a grey Gameboy, they became my very first equipment. I ever had a project that 100% focused on 8-bit chiptune music.

07. What kind of live performance did you have on Parisian Radio Libertaire?

Parisian Radio Libertaire is a very famous old radio station that has connections to the anarchist movement. They have this special program titled Epsylonia where a lot of Russian independent artists play at. That's where I got invited as well while I was staying in Paris. The idea that I had was to bring my Gameboy and my violin, so I ended up performing some kind of speedcore/breakcore. I am especially proud to say that I performed the official anthem of Russian Frank-Masons that I coded in 8-bit on my Gameboy. It was one of the pieces that got recorded there, and it was the final bit of music for the show.

08. Besides Cisfinitum, do you have any other music projects in the general style of Minimal wave? What inspires you to create music in this genre?

The very first recordings in the style of Minimal wave were done by me and my friend Yarrost (who was also involved in a couple of live concerts of Cisfinitum) at the end of the 90s. Together we did a project called N.E.M.O. This kind of music would get called Soviet Wave later on. Our first record was only published in the second half of the 00s on a vinyl compilation, so everyone thought that was when we did it, but it had actually been recorded in the 90s. What we did was, we started combining the pulsating bass line of the Soviet analog synthesizers and analog drum machines, alongside many other things like the synthesizer Maestro. A big part of Soviet Wave was being published and re-published at the time. We added voices from Soviet Vintage vinyls, which were mostly politicians, cosmonauts or just random people talking. We had an entire collection of those. The goal was to create something in-between Synth pop and Minimal wave. I think it was a success.

09. Could you tell us more about the Codachrom - Plastinka project?

I personally saw it as a way for me to continue the Soviet Wave aesthetics that got started with N.E.M.O. That project had been inactive for quite a while at the time and I was feeling nostalgic about it so I met up with Miguel Ruiz and together we had an idea to make a couple of collabs. One of them was Ornaments, it was done about 10 years ago and it was some sort of trance-like Dark Ambient. And later on we did Codachrom, which was a 100% analog record that used a Polivoks. Miguel had quite an impressive vintage collection of synthesizers and drum machines in Madrid. It was an enormous pleasure to work together. I am very proud to say that Señor Miguel Ruiz is a very good friend of mine.

10. Tell us about your concerts in Spain. What inspired you to go there and what kind of music did you play?

There were basically 3 concerts in total.

The first one was organized in 2011 by Esplendor Geometrico lead by Señor Andrés Noarbe
It was totally mind-blowing. The festival was called Red Cavalry and it was dedicated to the Russian and Soviet avant-garde movement of the late 20th century. There was a very impressive lineup. For example, there was Lydia Kavina, the best theremin player in the world. We even did one piece of music together on the stage, a mixture of electronic music with theremin. That concert was very impressive.

The second concert was a bit later, in 2014, in Seville. It was organized by Intro muros, the Sevillan community of experimental musicians founded by José, a friend of mine. It was recorded and released on a tape a couple of years later.

The third concert was with Miguel Ruiz, on the roof of Casa Escendida. It was a very sunny day, and there were lots of people. Not that much actually, but enough for this type of music. The people at the concert were beautiful and intelligent, the sun was shining brightly, so it was a very nice day. I played something dark and trance-like in the style of Cisfinitum, and then some Codachrom. I am very happy I've had a chance to show my music to the European audience in its finest form.

11. Let's talk about your collaboration with Rapoon, the album Mental Travellers.

That was quite a long time ago. Robin Storey's Rapoon is probably an inspiration for many electronic musicians all around the world and I am not an exception. It was a real honor for me to be able to work with him. We only had like 2 or 3 tapes of his work circulating around in the 90s. So when he finally visited Moscow in 2005, the organizer of the concert offered me to open for Rapoon and it was a great privilege for me. Then I happened to do a couple of field recordings in a village near Pskov. You know, like sounds of bells, people talking, all sorts of stuff. So I sent Robin a sample library I made and offered him to construct music using those samples. Then he sent some rhythmical tracks back and I added in more of my composer sounds involving things like the violin. After about 2-3 exchanges like that Robin told me that he was already quite happy with the results. «Now it's perfect» he said, so we released it. It wasn't just one collaboration though, two years after I produced a compilation for the Belgian label EE Tapes that consisted of many true Dark Ambient stars alongside with Rapoon. And then there was a compilation of some previously unreleased collabs with him that came out on a Zoharum.

12. Some of your albums were re-released on CDs on a Ukrainian label Old Captain not so long ago. Tell us more about your partnership with this label and the First Human Ferro project.

It began with Oleg Kolyada inviting me to participate in a compilation and to make a collaboration track with Polygon. And shortly after I invited him to participate in my compilation for EE Tapes. And after that we recorded a collaboration album called Alchemicals. It was very special for us because we had exclusive samples and very famous guest musicians like Sergey Letov, one of the best saxophone players in the world. It was a real star crew. Unfortunately we had to stop working together because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the politics. I had to make music for this political commercial that had to do with the Crimean bridge. It was just a job for me, an experiment just to see how these sorts of things work. I am actually strongly against political propaganda of any sorts, but I imagine that me participating in a thing like that was quite traumatizing for Oleg, so we broke contact.

13. How was your track DNA Radio recorded? What does its title mean?

It's an abstract title more or less. There was this period of time when I lived in the mountains. That was about 3 years in Podgorica, Montenegro that I spent in solitude. That was when I read a book by John Lilly called Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, so my album got the title Metaprogramming. It's related to the ideas of John Lilly and it's a reflection of the inner changes that I underwent. That track is different from all my previous records.  It's just the pulsation of life with maybe a little bit of suffering and technology.

14. What unusual and memorable stages of Europe have you happened to perform on?

The best and the craziest concert was probably in Bremen, Germany organized by Drone Records, an independent German label. It was a collaboration with Reiche Elektronische Musik and they offered me to play at St. Peter's Cathedral. That's the most central and historical place of Bremen as far as Christianity goes. It's not even Gothic, it's actually Roman and it was built in XI century. I've heard that there are remains of a pagan cemetery around the place, but that might just be rumors. There is a natural 9-10 seconds delay there because of the acoustics. It's not as long as in the cathedral they have in Cologne but it was also great. It was a real privilege.

15. How did you meet and get to play a concert with Earth? What is that story with Kurt Cobain's gun?

The organizer of that concert was the biggest industrial music enthusiast in Russia throughout the years. We prepared a very special program, something different from the usual Cisfinitum. It was more about Doom Metal and Industrial Drone. I hadn't played that before and I never will again, it was exclusive for the concert and people loved it. You can find it on bandcamp under the title Live Earth. After the concert Dylan Carlson and the guys from Earth, band Nadja and us went together to a restaurant, got drunk and sung a bunch of Russian songs, it was lots of fun.

Kurt Cobain's gun... well that's nothing more than a simple legend. If you go to google, you can find out that he was friends with the guys from Earth and he did some guitar and vocals for their early records. The legend says that he shot himself with a gun that he bought from a guy from Earth, but it's nothing more than a legend. I won't make any more comments about this.

16. How has Cisfinitum's music evolved during all this time?

It's evolving quite naturally, as we all go through changes with the passage of time. Especially when it has been such a long period of time. 20 years! It's enough time to be born and die! I was probably one of the first to play Drone Ambient in Russia. Now I am more interested in sound design, sound art installations and writing soundtrack for 3D animations. I now work with Michael Maximov from time to time. We have actually just released a 3D movie with a Cisfinitum soundtrack. It's about a murder of an Orthodox priest Alexander Men. We even won the first prize for the best short film on the International Experimental Movie Festival.

Photo by Yana Smolina

17.This year Cisfinitum is celebrating 20 years. It's a really important and significant date, how are you planning to celebrate the anniversary?

Well... I played a concert, I did a lesson about industrial music and I also re-released my very first tapes on a French net label. That's about it.

18. Do you have a dream?

Thanks for an excellent question! There is a superstition that one must keep his dreams secret. My response will be as follows: I want my secret dream to come true.

Cisfinitum on Bandcamp
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Cisfinitum on Discogs

Questions: Ilya Kudrin/Faith