Tuesday, January 5, 2016

StereoZoldat - "Zoldat Of Revolution" [1984]

Artist: Стереозольдат
Title: Zoldat Of Revolution
Genre: Electronic, Proto-Industrial
Country: USSR
Release date: 1984

Like in case with the Soviet metal scene, it's hard to determine who was the first industrial/noise artist in USSR. There certainly were some underground projects that played something resembling early industrial music during late 70s and early 80s without even knowing anything about Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire or any other seminal industrial acts. The most prominent example is Alexander Lebedev-Frontov who started experimenting with noises and sound collages in late 70s after finding out about futurism and musique concrète. If he indeed played something resembling his later works back then, then our case is solved; however, no recordings of his works of that time are available.

Dmitry "DMT" Tolmatsky (R.I.P. 2009), the author of famous "Industrial Culture Extented FAQ" and one of the most prominent industrial musicians in 1990s' Russia, has mentioned Center's early works (1983-84) as earliest known example of Soviet industrial music, comparable to early Psychic TV. If he was talking about these tracks, then I agree that there's something "industrial" about some of them, but... Not to sound disrespectful to the musicians who apparently tried to do their best in pretty harsh conditions, but generally it just sounds like a bunch of teenagers playing with guitars and synths and reading nonsense poetry. I'm sure Center weren't the only such band in the USSR underground scene whose members just played what they could and accidentally got something resembling TG or Psychic TV as a result - they're just the best known and still active today. It's also worth mentioning that there's one more example of musique concrète that was widely known in 70s USSR - "Revolution #9" by The Beatles, and while the 70s' hippies might find it too weird, the generation of early 80s was more open-minded...

...Well, I'm feeling that this introduction is getting too lengthy. Meet a very obscure project founded in 1983, whose 1984 demo is the earliest USSR "industrial"-esque music recording to my personal knowledge. It's a brainchild of Alexander "Zoldat" Nemkov, who was born in 1964 in Leningrad, and became interested in sound/noise collages and field recordings in early 80s. Yeah, I know his nickname is correctly spelled "Soldat" in both Russian and German, but I think the "Z" spelling he always used is just the same kind of sensational spelling that's widely used by industrial musicians (writing "K" instead of "C" in English words, etc.) to make the words looking more "German".

In August 1984, he and his two friends recorded their first demo, consisting of 7 untitled tracks. According to some sources, it contained several traditional rock compositions, but this info seems to be just plain incorrect. All I can hear on "Zoldat Of Revolution" is repetitive noisy electronic sound with some similarly repetitive voice samples here and there. Despite its simplicity, it's an interesting listen even today, and I think it does count as "industrial". Surprisingly, it isn't as raw and noisy as I thought it to be before listening (and certainly much less noisy than most 80s' Siberian punk recordings).

In March 1985, they presented their stuff to the public at the III Leningrad Rock Club Festival, drawing the attention of several very prominent rock musicians. With their help, they recorded an album called "Asphalt" in 1986, which became their best known release so far, but I think it's nowhere near as interesting as this demo. According to rumours, Zoldat recorded two more albums during the 90s, but they couldn't be found anywhere.

As far as I know, the demo was originally released without a cover (the image above is a still from some amateur movie featuring Zoldat). What I find very strange is that neither Soldat nor Lebedev-Frontov were mentioned in Tolmatsky's FAQ. Yes, I understand he coudn't know everyone in the Soviet experimental music scene, but at least Lebedev-Frontov is a prominent musician, and I can only wonder why Tolmatsky coudn't find a place for him in that very extensive FAQ...

No comments:

Post a Comment