Sunday, March 13, 2016

ZGA - "Riga" [1989]

Artist: ZGA
Title: Riga
Genre: Noise, Percussion Industrial
Country: Latvian SSR
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. Article 0881022
  2. Crash Of Molecular Collapse
  3. Visions Of Perspective
  4. Mountain Pit
  5. Caput Mortuum
  6. Imaginary Flaying Of A Mechanical Pig
  7. Refinedrock
  8. Fweedom
  9. Illusions
  10. Round The Lughole
  11. Teeth
  12. Whistle
  13. Chew Wax
  14. To Reach The Middle Of The Way
  15. The Pool
  16. I Need No Immortality
  17. The Thaw
  18. You-Wah
  19. Ku-Ku 
After summarizing all my knowledge of early Soviet noise and industrial music, it seems to me that the industrial scene started to appear in the USSR around 1983-84, and the earliest known recordings were made in 1984. I don't know if bands like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Laibach or E.Neubauten were known to the Soviet audience back them, but Kraftwerk, The Residents and DAF were known for sure.

Of what I've listened to, "Zoldat Of Revolution" (1984) seems to be the best candidate for the very first Soviet industrial/noise demo. According to Dmitry "DMT" Tolmatsky's Industrial Culture FAQ, the 1983 demo by Center sounds surprisingly similar to early Psychic TV albums which were released around the same time, but I think there isn't that much similarity. I definitely hear strong Krafwerk influence on that demo, but otherwise it's just one of many amateur noisy Soviet rock recordings of that time (what I find more interesting is that tape contained some elements of rap, an year before the first known Soviet hip-hop album). Alexander Lebedev-Fronov of Linija Mass claims to have experimented with noises as early as in 1979, which might be true, but there's no independent evidence of it. The first documented evidence of his project's activity dates back to 1985 or 1987, depending on source.

However, there's one more project that for some reason isn't mentioned in DMT's FAQ, but is widely considered to be a seminal band in Soviet and post-Soviet industrial/noise scene. ZGA were formed in 1984 in Riga, Latvia (but, to my knowledge, no one of their members was Latvian). Soviet Baltic republics such as Latvia always were known for its "Westernized" music scene and enjoyed easier access to newest music from the Western bloc than the other parts of Soviet Union, so it isn't a surprise that one of the first Soviet industrial projects originated from there. The first album of ZGA that I heard was "Sub Luna Morrior" (released in 1996 and dedicated to the memory of one of their original members, Alexander Zhilin, who died in a car crash in March 1994). That was in mid-2000s, and such kind of music was too avant-garde for me back then. The band is still active today, although they've moved to St.Petersburg in 1991.

"Riga" is a collection of their recordings made during 1984-1988, released as their debut album by Points East (an Eastern European subdivision of a British experimental music label ReR Megacorp) in 1989. You can find all the mp3s and scans (several download options are available) on the band's official site. However, I'd recommend this album only to the die-hard fans of noisy and dissonant percussion industrial such as early Einstürzende Neubauten and Z'EV, otherwise this album probably will just give you a headache.

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