MIKE LAZAREV is a London-based, Kyiv-born composer with a real feel for the filmic.
Leaving behind a country torn by political upheaval and persecution, he and his family moved to the USA – where he promptly fell out of love with the classical music he had been studying and performing since the age of 6.
It would only take a year, however, for him to rediscover music-making; utilising his family’s first computer (“a Dell 386 with 4MB of memory!”) he began using a sample-based tracker to create techno and released records in that genre through the Nineties.
Later again, and relocated now to London, he finally bought his own piano, and found a teacher to re-immerse himself in classical music; but lacking patience he turned to minimalism: piano melodies that somehow leaked from a lost soul.
His ambient collaboration with James Murray from last year, Suññata; was widely acclaimed; in 2019 he recorded a two-hander with the lovely Arovane, Aeon (Eilean 55).
He’s now stepping out alone as Mike Lazarev for the first time since 2016, and he’s releasing a lovely mini-album, Out Of Time, a soundtrack to an imaginary film (we really like those, here at Backseat Mafia), for Siné Buyuka’s Injazero imprint; home to Snowdrops, whose gorgeous Volutes we reviewed over winter.
“I’ve imagined scenes, scenarios, and conversations,” Mike says, “where music would enhance a fictitious story.” And he’s released the title track of that forthcoming mini-album by way of announcement: take a listen.
It’s contemplative, but not pretty-pretty; it sees polyphonic drone shimmer welcoming you into his personal, modern compositional piano aesthetic, one built of bass-key strength, wintry motifs, possibly best heard in natural light as dusk dims the room.
“The protagonists of this imaginary film are constantly fighting against the fleeting moments on this plane. But it is less about death than it is about living. And most of all, it is all about time,” Mike writes.
And isn’t that very subject, time, one of which we all have a weird appreciation right now? Frustrated in our viral purdah we have so much of it, but also feel keenly the bite of its passing in our confines.
Music is a succour we should celebrate in these times; Out Of Time, the mini-album, may prove invaluable as we slouch towards a lockdown spring and hopefully towards a freer, vaccinated summer.
Mike Lazarev’s Out of Time will be released by Injazero Records digitally and on CD on February 26th; it’s available for pre-order over at the label’s Bandcamp page now.