Anastasia Vtorova, the artist behind Machine Woman seems like a rather well travelled individual. Her latest release bio tells me she is originally from Leningrad, Russia, yet her Discogs page reveals she was brought up in Nottingham, UK. Currently, Vtorova resides in Berlin, crafting noise and techno experiments that tread the line between ’80s industrial pastiche and something decidedly more future-gazing. If there weren’t enough geographical marker-points to consider already, Vtorova’s latest release is entitled ‘For Sweden’, paying homage to the Scandavian territory on Peder Mannerfelt’s ‘Peder Mannerfelt Produktion’ label.
Hollowed out percussion and downcast atmospherics dominate the release. ‘Very Kind Human Being’ opens with crackling glitches, docile synths and absent minded humming - like some sort of Gregorian chant for the 21st Century. The EP seems to be decaying as you listen, as if it were some industrial machine committed to its final task before collapsing in on itself. Despite ‘10.8.15’s skittish percussion for example the whole thing feels like a generator being awkwardly cranked into ignition. ‘Yes 10.06.15’ explore similar themes wearily gathering itself together in a broken metallic churning.
The EP is constructed in such a way as to draw you in before unleashing its most abstract pieces. ‘Liquid Metal’ sees reversed hits dart between melancholic swells of ambience, before ‘Why Where Is No Effects’ delivers the final blow to your sanity. A multi-layered vocal sample is repeated at varying degrees of abstraction - detuned, warped and obscured in all manner possible.
However it is the moments at which Vtorova blends her more avant-garde notions with something more conventional where the EP really shines in my opinion . ‘Swedishmanwithtwoblackboxes’ for example is a fantastic mixture of Radiophonic Workshop style sonic experiments and dial-tone techno - squelching lo-fi percussion and stumbling, grit covered kicks buckling under one another.
As Mannerfelt himself put it, the language of the release is “raw and direct”, and if I am able to add a further point, consistent as well. It is this that gives Vtorova the ability to explore so many ideas without losing a distinct voice, a quality rare and worth commending.