Title: Craters: Cheko
Release Date: 2014 June 30
Genre: Electronic / Ambient / Chillout
License: CC BY-ND
Label: Tunguska EMS
I once again turn to Tunguska EMS and their latest release: Craters: Cheko, which is inspired by the surprise mystery crater in Cheko lake. This refers, as many of the works from Tunguska Electronic Music Society do to the Tunguska event. There is a theory that a portion of the asteroid, meteorite, or whatever body, broke off and fell into the Cheko Lake, and formed a crater at the bottom of the lake.
There has been a variety of speculations about the nature of this incident. In some cases, some of the more wild theories have suggested that there were other life forms involved, and that whatever happened wasn’t an asteroid falling to the earth, but a weapon or ship or something else.
Surprise Mystery Crater In Cheko Lake
Normally I don’t speculate too much about mysteries like this unless I have something solid to write, and then I am likely to write a piece of fiction or a poem instead. I find it fascinating that Tunguska EMS is driven (to some degree) by exploring some of the alternate theories behind the Tunguska Event. In this case I see something of a conceptual parallel between this release and their Point: Altai release.
As I mentioned in my review of Point: Altai:
The Altai Mountains might be one of the most fascinating locations in the world It is in this region where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together. Fauna is highly diverse in the area because of the multiple habitats it encompasses (steppes, northern taigas and alpine vegetation). The climate in the region has remained relatively stable since the ice ages, and it is the only known location where Denisovan, Neanderthal and Homo Sapien hominids have lived.
With Craters: Cheko, the artists of Tunguska EMS seem to suggest that something similar has happened in that area. That there was another species that existed in that area, and multiple races or species evolved (from the release page):
Who knows if we are the first species in the Universe who reached the same progress or not…
What will happen when we find the species resembling us? What will their shamans tell their fellow tribesmen about our spaceship, burnt in the atmosphere of their planet? What secret keeps the bottom of the Cheko lake?
Note the other parallel element: the idea that shaman’s exist in both the Cheko lake and Altai mythologies, and that the shaman might have origins from a different planet.
It’s this background, a sort of story or exploration of the unanswered questions about Cheko lake and Altai that form the basis for the Tunguska Music Society to weave a soundtrack as a representation of these questions within a framework of music we understand.
In this case of this work, it is an overall success, however it’s not without a few blemishes.
Some of the tracks are extremely strong. For example ‘Sunny Bazzar Day Somewhere in the SouthEast’ starts off sounding like it’s a re-interpretation of Indian percussion with a vocal sample layered over the top of it. However, it quickly turns into a light jazz work featuring vibes, flute and saxophone with interjections of the Indian percussion and vocal samples.
‘Voice of the Barren’ is a straight up chillout piece with Tuvan throat singing woven into the fabric of the piece. It’s a nice listening piece.
So, where is the weakness in this release? It seems mostly centered on the tracks from Radiotuman. On ‘Sorode’ the Chinese vocals sound artificially layered on top of the electronic background, they don’t blend well with the music. I know that it’s preferable keep the authenticity of the original work, but in this case something makes the vocals stick out in a bad way.
On ‘Uyuyu’ and ‘Tinrin’ electronic manipulation of the vocals makes them sound even worse than the vocals on ‘Sorode’. The vocal manipulations aren’t quite as bad as the use of autotune on a Black Eyed Peas song but still it stands out. The problem was somewhat compounded for my by the way the tracks are woven into the release. If they were in one lump it might be possible to skip over them. However, since they are spread out they interrupted the overall flow of the work for me.
Fortunately the remaining tracks are really good, and are a great listen. They made it possible for me to push aside the Radiotuman tracks as being anomalies of this release.
The Tunguska EMS crew digs into the surprise mystery crater in Cheko Lake in much the same way they examined the interesting curiosities of Altai. They examine the mystery through use of multiple musical genres and through multiple cultures. Despite a few tracks that I found distracting because of artificial elements, the majority of this release is an excellent listen and I can recommend it.