Dmitry Evgrafov is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Moscow. His music can be described as a blend of minimal, electronic, popular instrumentation and chamber orchestration. An autodidact, he has self-released one EP and two albums before signing with Fat Cat’s 130701 and releasing Collage in 2015, followed by another album and several EPs and singles. His latest project, Surrender, is a statement of his growing artistic maturity.
There are many points of interest in Surrender. The first being the composer’s talent at arranging for a diversity of instruments: “Splinter”, that opens the album, announces how exciting the musical adventure is. Of course, one can immediately hear where Evgrafov comes from: the American minimalism of the 1960s amongst others. But then quickly the piece evolves into an array of sounds, colours and textures; from strings to noises, percussion, piano and drums, reminding of the Orchestrion.
The piece flows into “Sparkle” that demonstrates how such arrangements can create a fantastic groove. Evgrafov excels at arranging acoustic instruments, as well as electric ones and lines of effects, such as in “Stymie” that takes strings through filters and delays and moves the atmosphere of the album to something more experimental.
The Russian musician is both a wonderful arranger and a crafty producer. “Anthropocene” is atmospheric, “Humble in Heart” with sparse piano textures builds up to a momentum of strings and flows perfectly in “A Rural Song”, that is exclusively string based and finishes on percussive yet smooth pizzicati. Then the composer surprises by bringing electronic urban textures and an Aphex Twin colour to his music — with “Context” —, and “Endless”, that features the German musician Aukai, is a piano piece sparkled with noises, strings and textures.“
N.510” — with “Splinter”, my favourite — is very well written; it appears as a piece for solo piano, but has the part doubled on the bass. A very elegant and intimate duet, with intentions that are confirmed in “Far and Close”. Intimacy and quietness is an idea around which Evgrafov plays a lot, from “Whirl” to “Serene Air”, a very well produced piece, treated through delays and aggressive yet light choruses.
Evgrafov composes, arranges and produces music, but with a degree in sound design — he is actually the co-founder and head of sound design at Endel, a mobile app that makes personalised ambient soundscapes —, the musician explores sonic possibilities that are both original and unexpected. Surrender is fantastically built on independent facets and musical personalities of outstanding maturity. Evgrafov understands the story telling of an album, and there is musical logic in the journey; throughout the pieces, the instrumentations, the paces etc. This release is fabulous. It’s loud yet quiet, it’s complex and simple.