Wednesday, May 22, 2019

DBS - "Orthodox Imperialist" [2018]

Artist: DBS (Deutsche Berittene Spetsnaz)
Title: Orthodox Imperialist
Genre: EBM, Aggro-Industrial
Country: Russia
Year: 2018

Track List:
  1. Rasputin
  2. Tanzen
  3. Orthodox Imperialist
  4. Viva Las Vegas
  5. Donald
  6. KFZ
  7. Alaska
  8. Body Roots
  9. Golden Panzer
  10. Texas Overdrive
Even if the public interest in gothic and industrial scenes is on the sharp decline during the 2010s (at least here), DBS continue to actively perform live, and their new album is perhaps the best in their discography. Of course their trademark humour is very much present on there. On "Orthodox Imperialist", Herr Major is coming to America and even manages to solve the mystery of Donald Trump's ancestry. The parody of Sepultura's "Roots Bloody Roots" is also remarkable (and it's not the first time DBS are doing something like that: they have released a cover EP of black metal classics in 2008). And if you don't want to pay €5 to Bandcamp, the whole album is officially available as a free download here

DBS - "Suprematismus" [2010]

Artist: DBS
Title: Suprematismus
Genre: EBM, Aggro-Industrial
Country: Russia
Year: 2010

Track List:
  1. Intro. God save the Tsar
  2. Der Jäger
  3. Die Heldentat
  4. Tchapaev
  5. Kokainetka
  6. Die Bären
  7. Roten Partisanen
  8. Das Morphium
  9. Boss
  10. Outro. Surovie Godi
DBS stands for "Deutsche Berittene Spetsnaz" or "German Mounted Special Forces", and from the name alone you can guess that they doesn't take themselves too seriously. I'd call them a Russian answer to Hanzel & Gretyl if not for the fact that their music is much more influenced by old school EBM rather than NDH. Actually, DBS along with their side project Strong Product are among the very few projects that have played old school EBM in ex-USSR. DBS themselves prefer to call their style "bodybilly", since they mix the sound of Electronic Body Music with the punk attitude and the aesthetics of rockabilly and psychobilly.

Most releases of DBS are conceptual works telling the story of "Herr Major", a fictional character that's the mascot of DBS (much like Eddie is the mascot of Iron Maiden, for example). This particular album tells us about the adventures of Herr Major during the years of Russian Revolution/Civil War and the New Economic Policy. Malevich's Suprematism, 20's cabaret and operetta, cocaine and morphine - "Suprematismus" mentions everything about the culture of early XX century that later influenced the early industrial scene. The militaristic attitude typical for early EBM is also on there, but presented in a rather comical way.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Veprisuicida - s/t [1996]

Artist: Veprisuicida
Title: Veprisuicida (Веприсуицида)
Genre: Noise
Country: Russia
Year: 1996

Track List:
  1. Травматизм
  2. Центрифуга
  3. Фанатизм
  4. Сто миллионов погибают славной смертью
  5. Монголия
  6. Травматизм-2
Veprisuicida is another moniker of Alexander Lebedev-Frontov, the very first industrial musician in USSR/Russia, better known for Linija Mass. All Lebedev-Frontov's projects are aimed to be industrial music in its pure form, deeply rooted in the avant-garde art of of the early XX century (Italian and Russian futurism, Swiss and French dadaism and "musique concrete", and early Soviet avant-garde music like A. Avraamov's "Symphony of Factory Sirens"). I completely agree that the history and aesthetics of the first half of XX century were a massive source of inspiration for many industrial / noise projects, and while this album (or anything else by Lebedev-Frontov) isn't something to listen to on a regular basis, it wasn't supposed to be an easy or pleasant listen anyway:

The project was named after an avant-garde short movie made in 1988. The author defined its genre as "necrorealism" and claimed it to be a critique of militarism (although I'm sure it was just an attempt to make it more acceptable to the Soviet establishment of the time). It's only 4 minutes long, so you may just watch it and decide by yourself if its plot makes any sense:

It should be also noted that the same name was used for a fake band that was claimed to be the first to play heavy metal in the USSR (as early as in 1976). In fact, both "their" music and the photos (apparently chosen for the funny looks of the musicians) belonged to a late 80s obscure metal band from the Belorussian SSR:

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Прокатный Стан - "Нюрнберг" [2010]

Artist: Прокатный Стан
Title: Нюрнберг
Genre: Rhythmic Noise, Dark Ambient
Country: Russia
Release date: 2010

This album, consisting of 4 untitled tracks, was apparently created with a purpose to demonstrate that Soviet military marches mix quite well with martial industrial and rhythmic noise. Nothing is known about the band member(s), so there's not much to say, yet for some reason I'm sure they aren't newcomers to the genre. The music itself ranges from dark ambient to pretty harsh rhythmic noise, with a lot of samples from WWII speeches and marches. This album is comparable to Pyongyang Hardcore Resistance's "Corea" in both sound and aesthetics, and the mystery surrounding the project. Won't recommend it to anyone who isn't a big fan of rhythmic noise, but if you're searching for something in the vein of PHC and TPROE, but with more focus on the WWII era Soviet art and propaganda, check it out.

Title translation: The Rolling Mill - Nürnberg (Nuremberg). Discogs say it was released on under Creative Commons license, but I can't find it anywhere on (if you can, please tell me). However, you can listen to it here or on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Theodor Bastard - "Vetvi" [2015]

Artist: Theodor Bastard
Title: Vetvi
Genre: Darkwave, Ethnic Electronica, New Age, Trip-Hop
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Umbraya Erze
  2. Vetvi
  3. Salameika
  4. Kukushka
  5. Aion
  6. Niti
  7. Veter (feat. Namgar)
  8. Yaard
  9. Beliy Gorod
  10. Kolodec
The best known Russian ethnic electronica band which most likely was a major source of inspiration for projects like Lovozero. Theodor Bastard started in the second half of 90s inititally as an experimental industrial/noise project in the vein of Coil and Nurse With Wound, and the later album "BossaNova_Trip" (2001) at times sounds surprisingly similar to much later works by Access To Arasaka. By 2004, Theodor Bastard became a full band and radically changed their sound in favour of darkwave and neofolk, which brought them worldwide recognition. During the second half of 2000s, they actively toured Europe and have shared the scene with such high profile bands as Nine Inch Nails, Spiritual Front and Von Thronstahl.

"Vetvi" is their latest up to date LP, strongly inspired by the atmosphere of Russian North, especially Karelia. The album name is a reference to the branches of the mythological World Tree (Arbor mundi). Another prominent lyrical topic on "Vetvi" is the theme of death (especially of the loved ones). Musically, it's ethereal/darkwave kind of world music, strongly inspired by Dead Can Dance and early Massive Attack, but rooted in the folk tradition of Russian North. The members of Theodor Bastard travel extensively, and draw the inspiration from various folk traditions from Russian North (which is my favourite travel destination as well) to Middle East.

The best song on "Vetvi", in my opinion, is the opening one "Umbraya Erze". It sounds very beautiful, although I have no idea about the language of the lyrics (someone has said they're in Old Norse, but I'm not sure about it at all):

Some more music videos off this album:

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tikhie Kamni - "Zemli" [2015]

Artist: Tikhie Kamni
Title: Zemli
Genre: Ambient, Folktronica
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Rukava
  2. Zemli / Crimea
  3. Khibiny
  4. Vethii
  5. Sokolgora
  6. Yarkii
  7. Tam Dojd’
  8. Podlesok
Tikhie Kamni ("Silent Stones", taken from a line from the song "Khibiny") is a collaboration between members of Lovozero and Moa Pillar. Compared to Lovozero, the sound is more minimalistic and ambient-oriented. The tracks are mostly instrumental or with lyrics that fit into a single line. Overall, it isn't as interesting as Lovozero's solo works, but certainly enjoyable, especially because I feel close to the theme of this album:
"A duo of Anastasia Tolchneva (Lovozero) and Fedor Pereverzev (Moa Pillar) have recorded "Zemli" ("Lands") hiking, making field recordings and improvising while on the road – and what a soulful ambient record it is!

No status, no background, no ego, no bullshit. Heartfelt folk vistas make way for ethereal Cocteau Twins-style cuts, deep drones, aural accidents and minimalist piano. These songs are sonic diaries of young people exploring Russia's valleys and hills, rivers and lakes. Not intended for a release, the personal recordings possess that strange magic lots of "psychedelic collage" records lack.

Anastasia and Fedor are no strangers to audio-production, though. Pereverzev's Moa Pillar project is one of the Russian scene's best-kept secrets – he makes that kind of eerie bass music that's rooted in song and dipped in power ambient. Tolchneva's solo act Lovozero is a different beast whatsoever: think beats with digital sheen and Russian folk song.

Tikhie Kamni is a true gem – quiet, intimate and easy to miss. Music made for no one that can be enjoyed by anyone"

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

UUTAi - "Live Jew's Harp" [2013]

Artist: UUTAi
Title: Live Jew's Harp
Genre: Folk, New Age
Country: Russia (Yakutia)
Release date: 2013

Track List:
  1. Silence Breath
  2. Sky Songs
  3. Races
  4. Water Games
  5. The Lunar Shaman
  6. Legend About Ancient Fights
  7. Races (Strana 03 rmx)
After posting Lovozero on here, I thought it'd wouldn't hurt to post Uutai too. Uutai plays Yakutian khomus, an instrument which for some unknown reason is commonly called "Jew's harp" in English, although it doesn't have anything to do with Jews and traditional Jewish music. There's some confusion about her real name: according to the cover art of this album, it's Olga Podluzhnaya; however, Uutai refers to herself as Olena (an Ukrainian name, although Uutai says she doesn't have Ukrainian roots and doesn't know the language). Anyway, she's a very talented musician whose music certainly should be recorded to anyone who's into Siberian shamanic folk (like the solo works of Veronika Oshulik).

Uutai became widely known after the video of one of her performances ("Siberian shaman lady") went viral on Youtube, and it's well deserved - her performance was amazing, and her vocal abilites (including the ability to imitate animal sounds) are great. Funny enough, a lot of people in the comments say that she has very beautiful armpits - that'd be one of the most original compliments I've heard of :)

After the success of this video, she performed at a lot of shows in various countries, but in come cases her music wasn't met well (understandable, because her style is too weird and exotic for an unexperienced listener). However, her performance on Britain's Got Talent apparently was quite successful:

Kageraw - s/t [2013]

Artist: Kageraw
Title: Kageraw
Genre: Ambient, Musique Concrete
Country: Russia
Release date: 2013

Track List:
  1. Когда приходит весна, я знаю мы будем счастливы
  2. loodust imetlema
  3. аrmastuseavaldus
  4. hingerahu
  5. viik
  6. one year old
  7. военная добыча
  8. loodust imetlema (vocal version)
A quite unusual album consisting mostly of piano melodies mixed with the sounds of nature and whispering spoken word vocals. More than half of the track names are in Estonian (no idea why). The later releases from Kageraw gravitate towards pure piano sound and meditation/yoga music, and the earlier stuff (including this debut album) is more experimental and therefore more in the spirit of my blog. Out of what was posted on here before, I'd compare it to "Slower Structures" by Tamás Kátai - it's just as atmospheric, minimalistic, melancholic and piano-driven, albeit noticeably more lo-fi.  According to the release notes, it was recorded at home in Zhukovsky (Moscow region) during the 2012-2013, and finished on the first days of May, 2013 - so, exactly 6 years ago.

Kageraw's real name is Yulia, and she was playing in several punk and metal bands at the time this album was released. Aside from music, she's apparently very interested in photography and visual art in general (judging from her Instagram and other social media), and just like many other female musicians, she's a bit of an amateur model herself. In particular, I really liked this photo of her:

The scenery and composition is amazing, as well as the post-processing. And as a bonus to that, Yulia has quite beautiful legs ;) But let's go back to her music:

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Lovozero - "Zagovory" [2015]

Artist: Lovozero
Title: Zagovory
Genre: Ambient, Folktronica
Country: Russia
Release date: 2015

Track List:
  1. Raspevy
  2. Travy
  3. Oberegy
  4. Zagovory
  5. Domoi
This project caught my attention because it's named after one of the biggest lakes in the European part of Russian Arctic and the centre of Kildin Sami culture in Russia.  With such a name, it just don't have the right to be bad, and this EP indeed turned out to be pretty interesting.

Lovozero is an alias of Anastasia Tolchneva, who mixes the authentic folk music of the Russian North (the ethnocultural region that I absolutely love) with the ambient/new age electronica - basically, the Northern Russian folk tradition adapted for the modern hipster's taste. According to Anastasia: "It is not about cultural codes. These compositions are my intuitive responses to chaotic life scenarios". The "Zagovory" EP, described as "spells and electrical roundelays", is her most accessible release (at least compared to the subsequient full-length album "Moroka", which is much more experimental). Very beautiful music, just like the nature of the region where that folk tradition comes from. Enjoy:

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Oyme - "Horol Ebel" (music video)

Oyme is one of the few bands whose news I follow very closely. They're an unique all-female project whose mission is to collect the authentic folk music of Finno-Ugric minorities of Russia (the cultures unfourtunately very few people care about), and to make its modern interpretations. However, this new song and music video is based on the pre-Islamic folklore of the Nakh-Dagestani (more precisely, Avar) people:

The leading voice of Oyme, Ezhevika Spirkina, is a professional ethnomusicologist that's very happy to answer any question about the cultures she studies. Last year she spent quite a lot of time and efforts to gather the obscure musical folklore of rural parts of Dagestan (she met with the members of Inoe, among others), and the first results you can see in the video above. The name of the song and video translates to "Mother of Wind", which is a reference to a pre-Islamic Avar deity.

It should be noted, though, that this work got a lot of flak from both the radical nationalist elements among the Finno-Ugric peoples (which perceived an interest in a non-FU culture, especially a Muslim one, as a betrayal, although being interested in different cultures is a crucially important part of being a good ethnographer), and some strictly religious people in Dagestan which didn't take well the perceived pagan connotations of the video (even if Ezhevika explicitly stated that's now what the video is about). Some of them also didn't like her attire - which is surely un-Islamic, and doesn't need to be (needless to say she's also a model with a very beautiful figure, and she has every right to be proud of it).

The band themselves view the "Horol Ebel" video as a multi-layered work, which is, among other things, a social project that concerns the cultural heritage of humanity transcending the national/ethnic and religious boundaries. The video was filmed in Gamsutl, a historical village in the mountainous rural Dagestan, which is mostly abandoned and ruined by now. Oyme expresses hope for the minor languages to live on, and the heritage monuments like Gamsutl, or Notre-Dame de Paris, or the Dormition Church in Karelia, to be restored.

Feel free to share the video anywhere you want.