Zen Sounds 040: Ani Zakareishvili
Getting lost in French New Wave films and the Georgian producer's »Fallin« EP
Last week, it rained a lot. It still gets dark quite early, so there wasn’t too much to do out here in the countryside.
As for me, I drank questionable amounts of herbal tea, watched some French New Wave films and listened to »Fallin«, a new record by Tbilisi based musician Ani Zakareishvili.
I had randomly come across a feature on French experimental composer Félicia Atkinson, sharing inspirations behind every song on her 2019 album »The Flower and The Vessel« in short, diary-like entries.
The spoken-word intro »L’Après-Midi« references the 1972 Éric Rohmer film »Love In The Afternoon«. Rohmer was an important proponent of the French Nouvelle Vague movement, not quite as famous as Truffaut and Godard, but still very influential.
My French has unfortunately turned a bit rusty, so I watched the movie with subtitles. I found myself diving into more of his films over the next days, particularly »Claire’s Knee« (1970) and »My Night At Maud’s« (1969) from his movie cycle »Six Moral Tales«.
Rohmer tells mostly dialogue-driven stories about intellectual city dwellers, shooting the movies on hand cameras, out in the streets, in cafés and parks. The storyline usually unfolds over just a few days or weeks, portraying the protagonists’ everyday life. These quiet films seem almost trivial at times, but below the surface, they deal with existential conflicts around love, marriage and faith.
In between watching old French flicks, I listened to a recent record by Georgian electronic music producer Ani Zakareishvili. I feel a connection there, and apparently I’m not alone. Independent music distributor Boomkat writes about »Fallin«:
»The lilting fin de siècle-style snippets take us back not to the Paris boulevards and coffee shops but flickering movie screens and TV interludes.«
It’s not so much that »Fallin« works as an »imaginary soundtrack« to Rohmer’s movies, to reiterate an already overused phrase; but I do feel a certain similarity in vibe and atmosphere. For me at least, they will from now on be forever intertwined.
Ani Zakareishvili – »Fallin«
(Warm Winters Ltd., 2023)
»Everything Warm Winters Ltd does is amazing«, Mari Maurice aka More Eaze said in The Wire, and she was right.
In the last three years, the small DIY label from Bratislava, Slovakia, has been releasing a series of stunning albums. Their roster gathers some of the most interesting experimental musicians from Eastern Europe – Martyna Basta and Tomáš Niesner come to mind –, and they also re-released Nate Scheible’s hauntingly beautiful »Fairfax« album. Their Bandcamp description says simply »tender music«, which sounds spot on, but it’s a cute understatement as well.
For her second release after 2021’s »Mtirala« album, 26-year old Georgian producer, DJ and composer Ani Zakareishvili partnered up with the label, and it definitely seems like an appropriate home for her dreamy, romantic piano vignettes.
Georgia’s capital Tbilisi has a vibrant electronic music community, which has often been compared to 1990’s Berlin. Zakareishvili seems to be part of that scene, regularly playing underground clubs and community radio as a DJ. She’s not exclusively interested in dance music though, as her own works seem to be much more influenced by experimental electronics and electro-acoustic composition.
Listening to »Fallin« conjures a weirdly ambiguous atmosphere, lending a welcome sense of mystery to the bleak January reality. It creates a distance to the world, while at the same time fabricating an imaginary, temporary home to linger in.
»Fallin« is a short piece, six songs, 17 minutes. But its replay value is astonishing. In his press blurb, label founder Adam Badi Donoval aptly writes:
»This is hypnagogic, hushed music, untroubled yet profound, which somehow waltzes past you in the blink of an eye. Unhurried, it blooms with grace and fades with equal ease.«
The base layer consists of crackling, warped piano recordings, heavily reminiscent of William Basinski’s groundbreaking »Disintegration Loops«, or even some of Harold Budd’s timeless pieces. There’s also more recent references that come to mind – Aphex Twin’s loving ode to his wife on »Syro«, and a short interlude on Arca’s »Xen« album. In its lo-fi spirit, »Fallin« slightly reminds me of Astrid Øster Mortensen’s enigmatic work.
For the material, Ani draws several samples from a 1982 interview with singer and actress Eartha Kitt. She was 55 at that point, divorced for 17 years, and had lived through all kinds of hardships, abuse and trauma.
When the interviewer asks her if she feels the need to compromise in a relationship, Kitt laughs in his face rather dramatically, asks »compromise for what?« several times, each time a bit more contemptuously.
It’s just short snippets of dialogue, not even full sentences, that Zakareishvili samples and manipulates for »Fallin«. She uses some of the provocative questions that the interviewer is asking Kitt, and some elements of her fierce rebuttals. In the last song »Answer«, we hear Kitt saying:
»I fall in love with myself, and I want someone to share it with me. I want someone to share me… with me.«
It’s a strong point Kitt makes here – without self-love, it’s not actually possible to truly love another person. That is not an egotistic or selfish standpoint, as some might say. It’s just a way to avoid suffering. People think they suffer because of love, but in reality, they suffer because of their attachment and clinging, their identifications and projections.
True love does not seek fulfillment or completion in another person, and it surely doesn’t demand »compromising« for one another, as the interviewer suggests. Like many people, he seems to confuse love with something else, and that confusion leads to suffering. But love is not suffering, it’s the absence of it.
The act of falling in love feels so good because it’s an act of surrender. When we’re in love with someone, we’re living mindfully in every moment with that person. As soon as that thrill is gone, we miss it. We’re not missing love itself though, but that feeling of being alive and present.
That’s what essentially makes up the charm of Ani Zakareishvili’s delightful little record – »Fallin« perfectly captures that beauty of fully surrendering to the fleeting moment.
One more thing
I want to leave you for today with a short film produced by iconic design studio Eames in 1977. I found it in the same piece about composer Félicia Atkinson’s inspirations that steered me towards Éric Rohmer’s films.
»Powers Of Ten« is a nine minute excursion to the outer edges of the universe, back to Earth and into the hand of a human. Watching this visualization of magnitudes will put many things into perspective.
Have a great weekend!
© 2023 Stephan Kunze