Back in the day I wrote a label feature on Full of Nothing, an all-time favorite among Russian DIY tape labels, which is now sadly defunct. However, label co-founder Ivan Zoloto has always found ways to remain creative and has of course moved on to new endeavors. His latest brainchild is School of the Arts, a new tape label he’s operating from his current home in Barcelona, Spain. With this imprint he’s decided to put the spotlight on the noisier side of experimental music with the first three records already out and exploring the sonic territories of noise, free-jazz and drone metal.
Petrozavodsk’s Winter War is the third SOTA tape release. It’s a band of three, presented in the credits only by the first letters of their names. As the insider I am, I can share with you that Winter War is actually label-owner Ivan Zoloto’s debut record as a drummer. The music on the album is loud, droning and distorted. Winter War is comprised of two 18-minute-long tracks but through slow and gradual exploration of loops, free-form instrumental experimentation and the trio’s quite minimalist but yet very monumental sound, these 36 minutes of the album pass in the blink of an eye.
Despite their raw and crunchy guitar sound, Petrozavodsk are not interested in sounding menacing or evil, as what’s usually the norm of anything drone doom and metal. Instead, Winter War has a more atmospheric and even ambient feel. Their slowly decomposing riffs, tamed feedback swirls and bass lines that wouldn’t feel out of place in a dub record are backed up by Zoloto’s sparse, primitive and just enough varied drumming. All these elements are intertwined in an organic dialog that keeps driving Petrozavodsk’s abrasive soundscapes forward and forward until they eventually fall apart in silence.