(New Album Review) Kirill Mazhai- Small Hours

Small Hours, the debut recording of Belarusian sound artist Kirill Mazhai, off the Russian tape label ШАΛАШ, finds within the recesses of its whispering, submerged loops a feeling like the expansive, but muted, intimacy of Andrew Chalk’s Goldfall and Time of Hayfield, though in terms of approach it is perhaps closer to more contemporary figures from the Japanese ambient scene like Celer and Ex Confusion. I hate to go overboard on emphasizing references here, but Mazhai has shared that he named the album for the John Martyn song; that’s important simply because it affirms that Small Hours is an ambient collection that has soul as few others do. These are the sounds of emptied parks and schoolyards just before the break of day, when the sky is not yet emptied of stars. Peer into the blurred-by-distance field recording of a busy corner that anchors “IV” or the warm, swirling textures of “VI” and it is clear that, in short, this is an incredibly assured and sensitive first release. Check out the tape here, and also, take a gander at the work of Ania Khazina, who designed the lovely album artwork.

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