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Nikita Zabelin

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Whenever one talks about contemporary techno, it’s no longer sufficient to make canonical references to Detroit or Berlin. Nowadays techno has become a burgeoning network that constantly changes form and function independent of any single location. Global centers of nightclub culture have recognized this decentered, networked pattern of influences – together with the fidelity of modern techno fans. One of the newest hotspots on an unfolding map is Nikita Zabelin, a young Russian producer and sound designer, who is also resident at Moscow’s Monasterio club.

Nikita is a proponent of minimalism that grew initially from the German techno-world, yet whatever those early sources, he has now come into his own as a sonic artist. «My music is not driven by songs. Instead it’s the creation of alternative realities, whether they spring from visual images or grow from my own experience with modern technology.» These trajectories and experiments have now led to sharing the stage with James Ruskin, Speedy J, Truncate, Shifted, Robert Hood, Slam- plus others.

Such potentials and possibilities have developed most recently in Nikita’s side-project. Rhizome. His soundscapes are constructed in Moscow, bringing with them an icy, industrial wind. “Rhizome" applies a postmodernist approach to techno, realizing the style’s expressive possibilities in a nonlinear fashion. This involves everything from a classic Detroit sound to Finnish and German elements, fused by an overarching electroacoustic minimalism. The result is a striking form of noise therapy or musical tranquilizer; it simultaneously threatens clubbers and plays with their nerve-endings in order to subvert sonic norms.

“In this model, culture spreads like the surface of a body of water, spreading towards available spaces or trickling downwards towards new spaces through fissures and gaps, eroding what is in its way. The surface can be interrupted and moved, but these disturbances leave no trace, as the water is charged with pressure and potential to always seek its equilibrium, and thereby establish smooth space” (Giles Deleuze)

Put simply, Rhizome is a side-project of Russia’s most stylish and intellectually challenging techno producer. Nikita Zabelin manages, with impressive understatement, to both continue the time-honored traditions of Detroit and grant them a local resonance. Over the last five years, he has pondered the interface of architecture and sound, industry, and audible minimalism. The skyline of many Russian cities is a lasting testament to Soviet industry; the soundtrack they require should be severe, angular, and yet restrained. Rhizome turns the lines, light, and angles of that architectural heritage into remarkable instrumentals. They give voice to a fading diligence and dignity.