Title: Future Hope
Release Date: 2015 Jan 20
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Mokhov is a man of few words. He was born in Russia and raised in the U.S. He travels a lot, and produces music with his laptop and no other instruments…as he calls it “the world’s smallest studio”. Beyond that about all his profile has to offer is that he lives in Nevada.
Mohkov: Future Hope
For working with “the world’s smallest studio” Mokhov would seem to be offering a fairly big challenge to other musicians. His music is well-written and easy to listen to. His mixture of influence from Four Tet, Boards of Canada and even a little DJ Shadow provide for a good range of styles for him to work in. I also perceive a bit of a Russian electronic music influence that I can’t put my finger on — but it reminds me of some of the works I’ve listened from United Studios Corporation.
And work he does. His pieces are very melodic, with a rhythmic snap to them that a lot of electronic musicians are missing these days. He also doesn’t over-indulge in any one direction: there’s no excessive percussive breaks, or extended instrumental solos. These are tightly written pop songs, While the style is different, I would compare Mokhov’s writing to The Beatles or Crowded House in terms of compositional expense. (IE, the concept that the more logical the structure of a song, the less expensive it is. Whereas introducing more complex elements in a song is more expensive.)
While all of this is worked out with really nice detail, there is still issues with this work: production. While listening to this work, the overall structure, and elements of the tracks are discernible I can’t help but feel there is a flatness to the overall sound. For example, frequently the drums are mixed to the back (where they should be) and become somewhat less distinct than they should (not desirable when the snap of the snare drum, or the click of the hi-hat is an important rhythmic element).
The sound also feels compress. That is to say, the top and bottom range of this recording aren’t as open as they should be. I would expect this kind of cymbal sound from a jazz album, not so much from an electronic album. And the bass lines and kick-drum sounds are weak. It feels like these songs were produced in the 1990’s, instead of 2015.
I have the feeling that production issues like this are the result of working on a laptop with a pair of headphones that aren’t revealing all of the details of the work, or at least aren’t making differences apparent when listening to other electronic music.
This release has a lot going for it: well written music that is smartly arranged. The songs are very melodic, quite hum-able, and easy to listen to. The only thing that mar this release are the lackluster production and mastering of the release. I would expect some things to “pop” a bit more instead of getting lost in the mix. Hopefully this is something that Mokhov will be able to work on in future releases.
(Aside: just to lay this to rest before it is questioned… I am listening to the FLAC encoding of this release on a pair of M-Audio studio monitors, with a 12″ powered sub-woofer. Many releases don’t have the sound quality / production issues that I’ve noted on this release.)