NIKITA VILLENEUVE “Тоска EP” C20 (Hylé Tapes)

Somewhere in that cold Russian night you’ll find Nikita Villeneuve in a cabin in the woods, hunched over a laptop, its virtual warmth the only respite from the bitter winter winds. Aw heck, I doubt that’s true, actually. My imagination sometimes fires off in (maybe obvious) directions, but I trust it, it doesn’t usually let me down. Regardless, Russia is a cold place in the winter, and even if Villeneuve is hunkered down in a properly heated flat (or in an inner Kremlin office – seriously, what do I even know), his music is as frigid as the frosty glares of the local populace, maybe as inhospitably nonthermic as my own frozen heart.

But that’s my heart, mind you. Inside Villeneuve’s chest beats a glowing ember facing outward in opposition. Its pulse is felt throughout Тоска EP, twenty quick minutes of ambient techno, and what could be an exercise in cold calculation for dancefloor movement becomes instead a headphone nodder for feeling pretty swell about yourself. Here Villeneuve is introspective without being quaint, and it does his tracks a great service, especially within the genre he tackles. Static beats drownstep to pitch-fucked samples, and the mood shifts from melancholy to spy-fi within a deliberate blink of an eye purple-lidded with lack of sleep. That’s just the mark of dedication, though, of multiple late-night composition and recording sessions – let Nikita Villeneuve wander that lonely path for you, for your edification. Even the disco-house jaunt “A4” is undercut with a responsible streak that points away from self-destruction.  Good news, then, that the great Hylé Tapes has picked this gem up for release – they don’t mess around with bad vibes, and Тоска EP features a big fat zero amount of them, no matter how cold it gets.

--Ryan Masteller