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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

#99 Flork Reviews: Ondrey Zintaer - Spánok / Sleep (2023)

Ondrey Zintaer - Spánok / Sleep (2023)
by Flork

Having a listen to the latest offering Sleep from Slovak artist Ondrey Zintaer is a lot like dreaming itself. Like his past albums, Sleep incorporates a number of sounds and vocal overlays with heavy doses of the sax and clarinet. But his latest album is much more organised, with elements of darkness and suspense, and often foreboding at times. I was captivated immediately by its unique blend of instrumental music and atmospheric soundscapes, a dreamscape that is nightmarish yet hopeful.

The opening track Just a Dream sets a haunting tone with Ondrey's repeated refrain of „maybe it's just a dream (možno je to len sen... to odporne ticho...), which illustrates a vivid image of dead animal corpses lying on the surface of a barren landscape. The spoken word in the first half of this tracks is intensified by the inclusion of machine guns and helicopters halfway through the track. This unsettling introduction establishes the album's thematic depth and artistic ambition. It is quite chilling and the suspense only rises as you listen further. Take Soprano Sax and the Machines of Destruction, which follows the opening track and delves into a world where traditional instruments collide with industrial elements. The result is a cacophony of sound that mirrors the chaos of destruction. The experimental nature of the track showcases Ondrey's willingness to push any and all boundaries and challenge conventional musical norms. It is apparent that this is a much more experimental endeavor compared to his previous releases. Imagine a jazz cabaret rehearsing on the banks of the River Styx, or John Coltrane playing at the final takeoff of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private airplane. Loads of improvised emotion set against a backdrop of death and destruction and of course, despair.


Ondrey continues to explore the darkness and masterfully weaves a foreboding sonic tapestry. The ominous tones and experimental elements of Clarinet and Drones keep the listener on edge, creating a sense of suspense and intrigue. This track is a bit mellower and is entirely instrumental with nothing but the thunderous hum of a drone in the background that contrasts amazingly with a hopeful clarinet. Clarinet and Cement Mixer, the fourth track, takes this experimentation further by introducing the unexpected combination of clarinet and the mechanical sounds of a cement mixer, adding a surreal and industrial dimension to the album. This is one of my favourite tracks—the clarinet sounds somewhat like a dying bird fighting for its life, as if dystopia is choking it to death through suffocation, yet with an ironic element of hope. I have to add at this point that the production is well done and thus the resulting album can hardly be called „noise“. Perhaps Ondrey may describe it this way, and yes, there is enough harsh noise throughout each track, but it‘s all part of the creative process that creates the intended atmosphere. Let’s say that it’s not an alcohol-infused catharsis of screeching guitar feedback and cymbal crashes, but rather a carefully calibrated work of appropriate stops and starts, where none of the sounds nor instruments are drowned under a heap of head-splitting clamour and pandemonium. A box of Ibalgin sitting next to my keyboard remains unopened.

The penultimate Sleep is a highlight of the album, offering a dark and improvised soundscape that reflects the dreamlike quality suggested by the album's title. Here, like the opening track, Ondrey incorporates spoken word with sounds of unknown sources. Although I can identify the sax (or is it the clarinet?), it’s the other sounds that accompany it that are less clear to me. Maybe a fujara plugged into a distortion pedal? I don’t know. In any case, he demonstrates his ability to create an atmosphere that is both captivating and disconcerting, which is particularly evident in this piece.

The album concludes with the epic Organ, Noise, and Tenor Sax, a composition that lasts over 16 minutes. This final track showcases Ondrey‘s commitment to pushing the boundaries of his craft. The combination of organ, noise, and tenor sax creates a mesmerizing and immersive experience that serves as a fitting climax to the album. I particularly love the sounds of the organ on this track and would love to hear more of this in the future.

Sleep takes the listener on a journey of unconventional combinations of instruments and dark thematic elements. And what is the Florkman’s prognosis? While it may not be for everyone, those who appreciate avant-garde and experimental music will find Sleep to be an entrancing and rewarding experience. Ondrey Zintaer has a unique ability to convey emotion and atmosphere through a variety of sounds and subtle noises (as well as great sax, organ, and clarinet skills) that illustrate his artistic vision in the realm of experimental music.


Ondrey Zintaer on JDOS:

Mar-23: Review#67 Anthroportrait  (Flork)

Mar-23: Review#69 BRAIN (Flork)

Nov-22: Interview#188 LINK



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