Instrumental synth has enjoyed somewhat of a heyday of late and its usually fallen into an even split of Italo-horror and prog-dipped players. Though, to be fair, the genre’s been shot through with no small amount of new age hippie float as well. That’s where the aesthetics of X.Y.R. diverge a bit from the pack. While Vladimir Karpov certainly has some tether the the darkness that drives the Italians, and an appreciation for the anesthetic float of the New Agers, he doesn’t go full bore in either direction. Rather he taps into the creeping womb of unease that floats in an altered state of consciousness, calm on the surface but reflecting a deep sadness and even menace in the waters below.

Labryinth, the artist’s LP debut, floats in a drugged haze. The songs feel like they’re trying to push through to a clearer picture, but are constantly dragged back by the limitations of the mind, fumbling through a fog of chemicals and confusion. On one hand, it feels easy to succumb to the languid pull of enveloping darkness. On the other, “why hell is it so dark all of a sudden?” screams the last shred of rational brain. “Is this euphoria or death creeping in with narcotic fingers?” The resulting album is hard to quit. It fizzes at the edges of vision, a salve and singe all in one. Karpov is a budding talent to be sure, and if this is the door to his dimension, then its going to be a an interesting ride.

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