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Nikolajev – Transplant Rejection

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Artist: Nikolajev
Title: Transplant Rejection
Format: C35 cassette, DL
Catalog: Muscut 24C
Release date: October 14, 2022
File under: Electronica, Ambient

'Transplant Rejection’ is the second in a trilogy of cassette albums released via Muscut in the latter half of 2022. The work of Estonian artist and IDA Radio co-founder Robert Nikolajev, this collection of seven ‘almost’ dark ambient tracks embody the melancholy of autumn whilst hinting at the forthcoming eternal winter. A man with many hats, Nikolajev operates on the fringes of the leftfield house underground for labels such as Incienso, Collect-Call and Sad Fun as well as being one half of the sporadic DIMA DISK act with Ragnar Rahouja. Eschewing the more rhythmic side of his productions for this Muscut tape, Nikolajev taps into the fictional soundtrack atmospheres the label is known for and brings his own brand of wistful, introspective world-building by way of machine harmony to the now Tallinn based imprint.

There’s a lo-fi, grainy quality running throughout the collection, a kind of sepia-toned nostalgia that envelops the listener and disorientates any perception of time or place. Buried vocal fragments sit in the mix on ‘Stifled’ alongside decaying synthesiser drones whilst ‘DDM’ channels an edgy post-rock dirge with its use of sagged bass guitar. Overall, an inspired look into the more ‘at home’ side of this increasingly prolific Estonian artist.

A1 Remorse
A2 Gafs
A3 Stifled
A4 Immicible
B1 Rip Lota
B2 Believer

Mastering by Gennadiy Boychenko
Artwork by Broshuda
Riso print by Hands on press

Muscut, 2022


Best known for his mutant, cassette-damaged electro constructions on Montreal's Collect-Call and Anthony Naples' Incensio, Nikolajev pivots into a beatless mode on "Transplant Rejection", diverting his attention from the dancefloor to the dream state. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone in regular contact with the reliably horizontal Muscut label, and the Talinn-based producer's contribution is a worthy addition to the catalog.

His windswept compositions are impressively lived-in and just as worn, noisy and evocative as his rhythmic material. At its best, "Transplant Rejection" sounds like a lost VHS-era B-movie soundtrack - tracks like 'Rip Lota' and 'Believer' act as a sequel to Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never's early synth-led psychedelia.   Boomkat