» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Systems and Drafts
Motive Sounds

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

January 18, 2006
If he was raised in the wild by wolves that listened to Boards Of Canada and taught him music composition, that would be a better story. As it is, Simon Koudriavtsev's real-life drama is pretty good, too. It has all the elements of a Charles Dickens' novel: the financial hardship of a Russian family devoted to the theatre, a mother's brave move to a foreign country, and finally, the release of Koudriavtsev's first electronic album, Systems And Drafts, to overwhelming critical acclaim. You can't make this stuff up.

Born in St. Petersburg, Koudriavtsev was surrounded by artistic types, and at the age of 9, he joined a local dancing and singing group. It was here that Koudriavtsev - take his first name and his last and mash them together, and you get Skoud - developed his performance and studio chops. Eventually, he grew bored with singing and left the group. It was about that time that he and his mother moved to Sweden to try to improve their lot in life. He bought a drum kit and learned to play in the family's living room, but was later forced to sell it because his parents thought it was too loud. So, being the intrepid musician that he is, Koudriavtsev discovered computer-generated sound and programming, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, you're caught up on Koudriavtsev's fascinating past, but what about his present? Before last fall, he was a virtual unknown in the field of electronica. But word's gotten out about his skills. A number of publications, here and abroad, have raised a glass and saluted Systems And Drafts, and with good reason.

Architecturally, Skoud's pieces are built around the metallic skeletal framework of To Rococo Rot, with all the requisite squiggles and beeps - see "Maida Vale," with its clipped, buzzing beats, and the deserted, windswept planet known as "Saker." His works are short, usually running no longer than two or three minutes long. Or maybe tight is a better word. Whatever the case, he takes what initially seem like cramped spaces and opens them with the jaws of life, exposing wider, more expansive worlds of sound. "System 19" is one of Skoud's more sophisticated tracks, with its soft flood of melting, chiming keyboards covering dry beats. "System 20 Live Edit" follows with a lovely loop of acoustic guitar, ebb-and-flow tape manipulation and a dizzying array of skitter and static. Then, to change things up, "Fu" goes hyper with vintage video game sounds. It's like all the games in an arcade have come to life and have all this nervous energy that they have to expend.

Amazingly, considering this is his first foray into electronica and that before all this, he was simply known as a drummer for a nondescript Swedish band called Molia Falls, Koudriavtsev exhibits a sublime feel for melody, while still maintaining an experimental edge that keeps you from getting comfortable. Dreamy, yet sleek and modern, like a transit station of the future, the soundscapes of "Lystandridge" and "515 Jackie Adaptor" are beautiful and serene, and yet Koudriavtsev isn't afraid to interrupt your meditation with an all-out blizzard of beats. And after the wild freakout of "THC" and the warped Boards Of Canada-style textures of "Beat 1-1" have subsided, Koudriavtsev ends with "Requiem For The Art College." Skoud's crowning achievement, "Requiem For The Art College" is an unexpectedly dark, rich piano epic that breaks your heart wordlessly.

When you think about line and form, Skoud traces its roots to Brian Eno, but you also hear the early ambient works and devilish playfulness of Aphex Twin. The vast artillery of beats, though, is all his own. Systems And Drafts can be haunting and sparse, and then frantic and ADD. I guess that's to be expected considering the life Koudriavtsev has led.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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