Cassette + Digital Album, 2024

Whenever I go, I can't help but notice signs of a looming change. I eavesdrop on conversations of creatures big and small, and like me, they seem uneasy and uncertain about what's to come. Something is in the air, dark clouds gather, winds are shifting course. Amidst the confusion and restlessness, the voices of non-human and human worlds blend in a worrisome symphony. This piece is an ode to anticipation, to the beauty of different forms of life on the brink of the sixth mass extinction. Joining in the chorus are the American toad, northern winds, an old kettle, Mr. Cat, tawny owl, crickets, domestic chickens and pigs, trumpeter swans, honey bees, truck horns, cormorants, seagulls and other elements and critters.

Released on March 20, 2024 on forms of minutiae 

C30 — limited edition of 60
duration: 28’56’’ — piece repeats on both sides
recorded, photographed, and composed by alëna korolëva
trumpet improvisation by chayka chekhov
mastered by mathieu bonnafous
tape production by headless duplicated tapes
published by forms of minutiae — fom10 — 2024

Kristoffer Cornils, field notes | Contemporary Music in Berlin:

Sound artist Alëna Korolëva created premonitions↗, released on the Berlin label forms of minutiae, as a commissioned work for the Radiophrenia↗ platform, bringing North American flora and fauna into dialogue with Chayka Chekhov on trumpet. What may read like a fairly conventional soundscape work on paper sounds decidedly composed from the very first second: Korolëva uses the rumbling of the wind as a basic rhythmic framework and frog choirs like shimmering organ notes, employing the cooing of birds as a canon and counterpointing it with undefined rumblings. Like a carefree DJ, she fades from one contrast to the next, allowing Chekhov's playing, which only appears late in the mix, to emerge from the rippling water and disappear again as quickly as it came. An absolutely remarkable work that ignores all conventions of soundscaping with verve. Bravo!

pablo diserens:

Something is afoot, the Tkaronto/Toronto-based artist and curator, Alëna Korolëva tells us in her new soundscape composition “premonitions”. American toads and water beetles set things in motion before the long-form piece journeys through a multitude of field recordings and non-human voices in a quasi-cinematographic fashion. Korolëva layers and manipulates sounds from the real into a sonic chimaera which mutates concrete ambiances into vaporous surrealities through the modes of collage. A storm blankets the soundscape, things grow quieter. Distant parallels with Luc Ferrari’s "musique anecdotique" come to mind, yet here the piece materializes in an acoustic docu-fiction of some sort, that takes the form of a waking dream. Various scenes, ranging from the mundane to the uncanny, unfold in eardrums exposing an underlying sense of earthly melancholy. A weight lurks throughout while winds, pigs, chickens, and mechanical apparatus weave into a strange agitated tapestry. A kettle whistles, a cat meows – Korolëva sprinkles the gloom with touches of humor and audible senses of home. Trumpeter swans are joined by a trumpeter human; Chayka Chekhov responds to the avian songs in a interspecies dialogue – echoing Jim Nollman’s “Playing Music With Animals”. Environments cascade into a finale droned out by truck horns. Their ringings and animal cries swell in a somber abstraction bearing the weight of a presentiment. “What does the future hold?” we ask ourselves throughout the album as we dissolve in imbrications of positionings, emanating from one another like stacking dolls. Poly-layered, “premonitions” engages in play, in negotiation with the disparate spaces and voices of a troubled world as if it created harmonious discord to decipher the ominous clouds gathering in the horizon.

Richard Allen, A Closer Listen:

Storm clouds are gathering on the cover of Alëna Korolëva‘s premonitions. The beach lies empty; even the crabs and gulls have sought shelter. But this is no normal storm; the artist is having premonitions of a larger storm, an ecological-societal-spiritual disaster looming and encroaching fast. The signs are widely available: disappearing insects and birds, melting icecaps, weather gone wild. Korolëva imagines all of nature chattering, creating a clamor, audibly agitated, unsure of what to do, where to move, or whether or not any safe spaces remain. This is her “worrisome symphony.”

Mass extinction is a serious topic; one might argue that nothing is more frightening. And so, Korolëva splices humor into her chapter book collage, and Mr. Cat almost steals the show. After all, while the world is ending, fewer people are paying attention to the delicious birds and fish. But before this happens, American toads and water beetles make mating noises over a bed of thunder. The chorus grows louder; the thunderclouds draw nearer. The winds begin to howl. A gate twists on its hinges, in need of oil. The world is a rusty hinge, while nobody has a can.

Enter Mr. Cat. Mr. Cat would like some food, and lo! Food is provided. A chorus of farm animal enters the sonic frame. So many domesticated chickens! So much delicious meat! But soon Old McDonald’s Farm becomes Animal Farm. The animals are trapped, slated for slaughter. As the crickets hum; the dogs howl at the moon. A tawny owl considers its next prey. Where are the human protectors? They too are trapped; they too are burning; they are creating the flames.

The watery portion seems a respite: a break at the trough, the river, the watering hole. In this segment, trumpeter swans provoke a human response: a wild trumpet improvisation by Chayka Chekhov, akin to David Rothenberg’s Nightingales in Berlin. But when swarms of bees approach, reminiscent of plagues of locusts and “The Hellstrom Chronicle,” all trumpeting ceases. The bees then give way to a human swarm of truck horns: perhaps traffic, perhaps protest, an ineffective barrage that screams its frustration into the cosmos and hears nothing back. Scavenger birds circle and descend, cawing and fighting over humanity’s last scraps.

Does it need to end this way? A premonition is a strong feeling that something is about to happen, usually a Very Bad Something. But it is not precognition. Street prophets scrawl “The End Is Near!” on cardboard signs and urge readers to repent. Korolëva’s vision is an aural warning of what lies ahead if humanity fails to correct its current course.