The optimism and artistry of Mike Lazarev are fully present throughout every moment of his When You Are (34'47"). In this wonderful journey of nine tracks he manages to move us from the complexities of melody and harmony, and slow-burning explorations of timbral and temporal space, to intimate moments of uncommon sensitivity and carefree electronic comfort. Moving into the thought zone with him we encounter the emotional momentum of each composition. Each perfectly paced piece bestows a unique emotional idyll upon the listener. Restrained when it matters and bold where it counts, When You Are extends a rare fragility. Grainy textures breathe slowly beneath luminous synth pads and ethereal vocal tones, which conjures a lovely, holding environment. Along with subtly distorted sonics haunting piano notes reiterate with increasing curiosity. With a performance sparse in delivery but dense with emotion Lasarev wanders his way through this album with affecting reserve. Forlorn, sorrowful, and occasionally with hope and joy his storytelling remains quietly cloudy - yet with enough clarity for genuine emotional connection. Striking a doleful chord he carefully modulates a narrow range of aural grays, greens, and blues. It is in these considered harmonic structures that we hear the most sparking, sparkling musical moments. With its subtle intricacies, clear beginnings and dramatic resolutions, When You Are exhibits a rare fragility. As Ambient Music it provides a confounding, vague, perfumed atmosphere - so it is only through careful listening that we may come to appreciate the intelligence and complexities of this work. With this music inside us, slowing the heart and stilling the mind, we may eventually ponder - is Lazarev imagining a better, more beautiful world? or mourning the one we have made?
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 18 August 2022