Little Nastya - Afrika EP (2009)

Little Nastya

Glitch, Abstract, Hip-Hop

"Nastya – is quite obviously not female. Neither is he very little, being sufficiently mature to have half a decade’s worth of musical experience behind him already, both with the underground hip-hop label 2-99 (of which we’ve written previously) and St Petersburg’s net-project Subwise. Most of his output he defines as “glitch-hop.” This same style undoubtedly rolls on into the new release – and does so in fascinating ways. We’ve been lucky enough to get a pre-release copy of the recording, which goes by the title of “Afrika.”

The “Intro” track, over a mere 1:18 seconds, combines decelerated, slurred speech (of what appears to be a radio presenter) with some ethnic pipes, evocative not only of African stereotypes, but even the endless steppe of Russia’s Asian lands. This, in other words, is a deliberately vague/wantonly hackneyed evocation of some underpopulated, underdeveloped expanse. In fact, the track is even subtitled as “Afrika Space”: this could be a reference to Africa seen purely in terms of open wilderness (with no apparent limit) or to the fact that such boundlessness conceivably mirrors outer space, in that it robs its few inhabitants of any orientation whatsoever.
Whatever the case may be, there’s a sonic association of slurred, almost ambient sounds with a blank, open canvas. Only towards the end of the track do drums punctuate this backdrop – and the EP kicks into gear. This, in short, is a soundtrack to incipient effort in the middle of nowhere.

Throughout these five brief numbers, with a total running time of less than 8 minutes, Russian/Siberian/African motifs all fall together, once more underscoring the idea that the EP as a whole is designed to grapple with a certain dilemma – and express some inexpressible geographic dimensions. In other words, it hopes – through a merger of existing sonic tools (i.e., sounds that are universally recognized as “African,” say) – to articulate something so big or distant, almost nobody has encountered its edge, extent, or end.
To talk or sing of something that has not been seen in its entirety will obviously be difficult(!); Uvarovskii attempts to do so by gathering some generalized, if not cliched sounds of big, untraversed spaces (like African drums or haunting flutes of the Taiga) and combining them. After all, if those same drums stand in metaphorically for “all of Africa” – in some nonspecific, almost trite manner – then maybe the equally nondescript melodies of “all Siberia” – if added! – will evoke an even bigger realm.

This same process has a precursor in Russian history. Way, way out on the distant Pacific rim of Russia’s eastern extremities, there is a large cape, known as “Afrika.” In reality it juts out into the eternally frigid waters north of Japan. As we can tell from the image below, we’re a very long way from lions or tigers. Simply because the land was further from home than anyone had ever been (or seen), standard reference points did not suffice. This was an impossibly, indescribably isolated address.
The territory was only investigated for the first time in 1882. Nobody got there by land; it was approached from the sea, more specifically by a ship – also called “Afrika”! This strange coincidence occurred because the ship’s visit led to the establishment of a small community and lighthouse. To this day, only ten or so people live here. The residents were so fantastically distant from anything resembling normal, recognizable spaces that only an “African” designation would do.

But what about the ship (shown below)? It was originally known as the Saratoga, but renamed “Afrika” when purchased by the Russian Navy in 1878. As political tensions grew worse towards the end of the century, the ship was then not only armed, but also given the ability to transmit radio signals (in 1898). This was a vessel, therefore, that could now sail and “speak” over greater distances than almost any other. Or so people thought. Its material investigation of the immaterial came one day to an end; by 1920 the ship was designated as nothing more than a “sailing warehouse” and three years later it was sold to a German junk merchant.
Solid structures met their match; the immaterial objects of their interest, however, had no limit – and therefore endured. They also continued to escape any “formal” designation, since nobody had ever encountered their full extent. Ships were built and fell apart while the next generation of sea-faring telegraphers continued to investigate the silent, formless emptiness of the atmosphere.

For this same reason, the EP’s “Outro” is subtitled “1st December.” It also marks the beginning of an end; that theme of conclusion is expressed through the transformation of our syncopated drums into the stuttering glitch of a fading signal. Structure breaks down.

In less than 30 seconds, all rhythm has turned into a single, ambient whine. The EP both begins and ends with the slow “slurring” of sonic units (of anything resembling a beat), such that white noise both precedes and outlasts any human endeavors. Just like old, time-trusted metaphors of Russia’s “boundless” lands, its “bottomless” seas, or “infinite” skies that would outlast the best and biggest ships, so to this EP speaks of some formless, constant state that comes before and after all attempts to punctuate (or build upon) it.
The raw material of this music – the sounds of something “further still” than Kamchatka or Africa(!) – is drone-like."

01Little NastyaIntro (Afrika Space)1:18
02Little NastyaEasy Programmm... (Food)2:21
03Little NastyaAfrikan Robot (Oila-O)1:30
04Little NastyaLight Reall Sun (Afrikan Woman)2:12
05Little NastyaOutro (1st December)0:32