Kosaya Gora (English translation; Oblique Mountain), a new indie / experimental project from acclaimed electronic producer / singer Kedr Livanskiy and experimental producer/visual artist Flaty, have released their first full-length album Kosogor today. Kosaya Gora is an entirely new sonic direction for them both. The debut is a multilingual foray into guitar-based folk, ethereal pop, and moody synth, underpinned by Livanskiy’s signature hypnotic vocals.
The two recorded Kosogor in a mobile studio which they took through remote villages in their native Russia. “In one place, there was nothing but a forest, a cemetery and [a] ruined church,” Livanskiy remembers. “The wooden house we lived in was 120 years old, and this spirit is imprinted in some songs.”
Having worked together on each others’ solo electronic projects in the past (Flaty co-produced Livanskiy’s Your Need and features on her most recent album Liminal Soul), the two artists found themselves exploring new territory during a period of experimentation between 2020-21. “[When] quarantine came…it became important to immerse ourselves in the meditative. So we jammed without a deliberate idea, and it turned out so well and easily that we realized that we could arrange it,” Livanskiy explains.
With a spirit of curiosity and no specific plan, they took inspiration from all over during these sessions, likening their process to that of Gray, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Michael Holman’s experimental band of non-professional musicians and artists. As a result, Kosogor contains echoes of ‘60s psychedelic folk, underground rock, country, DIY and experimental electronica tapes, ‘00s and ‘90s indie and trip hop, dub, and more. Though these touchpoints may be new to fans of both artists’ solo work, they’re deeply familiar to Livanskiy and Flaty themselves, echoes of their youths spent traversing Russia’s underground music scenes. It makes sense, then, that a free-spirited approach to music-making would naturally resurface these familiar sounds.
The resulting album is fittingly expansive: traditional folk guitars swirl alongside moody synths and ‘90s-era distortion. Fans of Livanskiy and Flaty’s prior work will find some familiar sounds here as well – “V Pole Na Vole” has an upbeat, infectious melody and glitchy electronic production, while “Musika Voln” has a danceable trip-hop beat. All of the songs on Kosogor seem to dart between eras in a way that would be dizzying if it weren’t so skillful. This sense of timelessness is underscored by the lyrics, which borrow from ancient folklore, 18th century German poetry, contemporary American writing, and more. The otherworldly “Empty Realm” is even written in an entirely invented language, an elvish dialect which Livanskiy describes as “a language of dreams.”
Like both artists’ solo work, the music of Kosaya Gora resists categorization, bringing together seemingly incompatible elements into a polished whole. This delicate tension is by design: Livanskiy describes the mood of the album as “on the one hand, foggy and gloomy, and on the other hand, light.” Channeling both the vibrant sounds of their city-dwelling youths and the more ancient atmosphere of the forests and small towns they traversed in their mobile studio, Kosogor is an enchanting debut from a group that, though brand new, feels oddly timeless.