Ah, Russia! Fur coats down to the ankles. Skin reddish-pink from the booze. Illegal bear fights. Spies with cyanide pills clenched between the teeth. Sinister gulags. Just when you start to believe the stereotypes, BAM!, nature steps in and makes sure you look at the assumptions with the right amount of disbelief. I find it impossible to think of any producer from Russia who has reached the level of coolness and international projection of Nina Kraviz. No bears, no spies, no gulags, no nothing. Glamour! Finesse! Elegance! Savoir faire! This magnetically curved Siberian lady is no joke.
Not only has she become a very much sought-after DJ (for instance, she's taken over the Propaganda nights in Moscow), but she's also been releasing records on labels like BPitch Control, Underground Quality and Naif over the past few years, releases that haven't left any of the people who know them indifferent. So it's no surprise that Matt Edwards, alias Radio Slave, and James Masters decided to export the lady's talent beyond the cold of the steppes, through their well-regarded Rekids label. After a string of glorious singles, Kraviz brings out the big guns with a debut LP that injects tech-house with a generous dose of sensuality and elegance. With an almost feline femininity. The girl is ready to claim her piece of the electronic pie, and Clubland adores her.
Look and sound are perfectly in synch. The image of introverted doll oozing sex is perfectly reflected in a very particular style book: technique and coldness, on the one hand, are combined with a spongy slipperiness, coming from the vocal inserts by the artist herself (rather than singing, she sticks her tongue in your ear), and the cushioned bass frequencies that are beating in your headphones. It's a slow brand of house, defined by the sonic palette of the Roland 808, with constant echoes of the Old Testament of Chicago house (via Herbert's England), Berlin minimalism and deep, Detroit techno. The DJ, producer and singer knows her way around the studio. With a limited and, for avid electronica consumers, highly recognisable sound arsenal, her first LP is aimed at the dance floor, but she doesn't forget about those who actually listen or even fantasise. That's where she takes the prize, in the sensual evocation, in the transmission of feelings and sensations, in the eagerness to take the simplest and most intuitive dance beats to emotional territories.
When she’s using old-school deep-house, she sounds hypnotic. She does it perfectly on “Love Or Go” (affected voice, distant effects, vintage drum machine) and on the exciting “Taxi Talk”. They are well-executed tracks, produced with precision and care. Just listen to the hit: “Ghetto Kraviz” is the naughtiest track of them all, no doubt, but even on that nocturnal piece she manages to insert some dreamy synths and some absolutely delicious, lethargic lyrics. There are some blinding flashes of techno-dub on the album, such as “Working” (an iceberg of undulating bass frequencies and reverberating claps), and experiments on the border of other genres, such as “Petr”: from icy techno to bass music, and from bass music to hypnagogic pop, as if it were nothing. Having a bad day? Is your girlfriend sleeping around? Relax, there's time to rest your head against the window and watch the rain. The ambient waves and whispers of “Fire”, and the Seefeel-like IDM bubbles of “4 Ben” will push you even further into the mire. Great album.