Julia Govor explores aliens and alienation on sophomore EP, ‘Winter Mute’

Image by Sasha Smolina

Finding a sense of nuance in the consistent thud of techno is not an easy feat, which makes Julia Govor’s brand of techno a bit of a rarity. The New York based Russian selector and composer has always brought a sense of nuance to her productions, achieved perhaps by bringing a more fluid, feminine quality to the masculine rigidity of hard techno’s relentless pounding. This sense of fluidity is one that she employs beneath her sledgehammer beats to produce music that finds an ebb and flow within its aggressive repetitiveness. Govor often pulls from the cyclical aesthetics of ambient electronica and IDM, fusing these with typical techno conventions to establish her music’s arresting modulation. Winter Mute is Govor’s sophomore solo EP, and her first collection in three years since 2018’s incredibly progressive JUJUKA001. Brought about by Govor’s reading of William Gibson’s seminal science-fiction work, Neuromancer, Winter Mute sees Govor continue to develop her sophisticated and ambrosial style by pulling from a more conceptual source of inspiration.

Across it’s four tracks, Winter Mute embraces the aesthetics of its sci-fi source material. In this sense, the music on Winter Mute is incredibly futuristic in style. Govor’s work has always possessed a sense of futurity by way of her distinct stylistic choices, but here they are expanded into a new sonic palette which pulls from elements of psytrance and cosmic atmospherics to create something that feels extraterrestrial. The hypnotic lilting whistle that pierces through the brilliant Icebreaker recalls movie scenes of alien invasions and underscores the track with an omnipresent strangeness. On Drama C psytrance modulations appear like some sort of alien language against hi-hat claps beneath which they bubble. In many ways, Govor attempts to extract the sound of an imagined world, a utopian fantasy space outside of her lived reality.

Awake features a vocal sample from Andrei Tarkovsky’s war drama, Ivan’s Children and the warping synth refrain that repeats across the track recalls the suspense of the filmmaker’s cinematography, taking direct inspiration from its distanced sense of alienation. Produced while in complete isolation, the tendency of Winter Mute to make use of vervreemding devices is apparent. While still being very much a product of Govor’s lush, liquid techno style there is an element of deliberate distancing that underlies the, manifesting quite literally in Govor’s use of alien aesthetics. 

It is a beguiling journey into a martian world, which when examined beyond its initial strangeness, closely resembles the current, distant state of our own.

Winter Mute is released by JUJUKA and is available to download here

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