September 4, 2020—Galya Bisengalieva’s debut album Aralkum is out today via One Little Independent Records (Björk, Poppy Ackroyd) – listen/share HERE.
The record, centered on the disastrous shrinking of the Aral Sea, is the newest addition to the composer’s acclaimed body of solo work, which also includes her two recent EPs: EP ONE and EP TWO. A Closer Listen wrote: “Aralkum leads listeners through a gamut of emotions, yet resists the urge to wrap it in a neat bow. The open-endedness reflects the nature of the artist herself.” Uncut praised the album’s “Enoesque sense of play.”
The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. Situated in Central Asia, it was once the fourth largest lake in the world. The rivers that fed the Aral were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects from the 1960s, and the body of water has been disappearing ever since.
“The writing of Aralkum came out of an innate need to tell the story of the tragedy of the Aral Sea, which has been overlooked and ignored,” says Bisengalieva. “I have always been passionate about the environment, but was specifically motivated to explore the Aral as it’s close to my heart and connected to my family roots. My family on my mother’s side is from the region.”
Two singles preceded the release of Aralkum: “Barsa-Kelmes” and “Kantubek,” each accompanied by their own video that expanded Bisengalieva’s artistic vision. “I work a lot with drone and multi-layered strings,” she says. “So finding the voice of the Aral came quickly to me as my style suited the simplicity of the barren desert as well as the flowing of the water.”
The animated video for “Barsa-Kelmes” was directed by Damir Otegen, whose team is based in Bisengalieva’s hometown of Almaty, Kazakhstan, while “Kantubek” was shot using a drone flying over the Aral Desert, laying bare the sheer magnitude of environmental devastation in the region.
The Kazakh-British violinist has established herself among experimental composers as the leader of the London Contemporary Orchestra, having contributed her distinct playing to projects including Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, Thom Yorke’s Suspiria soundtrack and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Her solo works, EP ONE and EP TWO, focused on fields of tone and sawing drones, with the latter exploring more complicated digital landscapes.
FIND GALYA BISENGALIEVA ONLINE