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Vladimir Karpov’s questing Soviet synthesizer designs as X.Y.R. evoke desolate landscapes, lost worlds, and labyrinthine inner realms but his latest is less destination than journey: Pilgrimage. Comprised of two simmering, serpentine side-long compositions – “Black Monk In The Dunes” b/w “Echoes Of Time” – the album summons a sense of pensive processions across shifting sands, “an internal dialogue with reflections and obscure images,” twilit horizons dimming to starlit mirage. Karpov likens these long-form voyages to temple meditations, “trips in search of something,” looking in as looking out. Whispery pulses of percussion echo under ancient cosmos keys while devotional textures drift like smoke from nomadic encampments. The sound of water in a well or an exotic caged bird occasionally cuts through the holy haze shrouding these ceremonies but the truth of their trance never wavers, the guiding star holds its light, the pilgrim progresses. Attuned achievements by a deepening master. Mastered by Alex Nagle. Art and design by Dieter Durinck.