Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Универсальная Система - "Стена" [1994]

Artist: Универсальная Система
Title: Стена
Genre: Synthpop, Darkwave
Country: Russia
Release date: 1994

Track List:
  1. Стена
  2. Шабаш ведьм
  3. Безумные танцы
  4. Универсальный солдат
  5. Механофобия
  6. Ностальгия
  7. Лица мёртвых
  8. Последний тост
Another interesting obscure find from the early electronic scene in western Siberia - an undeservedly forgotten dark synthpop album recorded in mid-1990s in Novosibirsk. Универсальная Система (Universal System) was a relatively short-lived (for an year or slightly more) by the members of two underground techno projects from Khabarovsk and Novosibirsk. They were inspired by such bands as Bio, Arrival, Jumprava (80s Latvian synthpop) and, of course, Depeche Mode. However, their sound was much darker (in comparison to many other DM clones of that time), bordering on darkwave. Same can be said about their lyrics, which featured dystopian/sci-fi/"industrial" and gothic horror themes. Overall, this album may be not a masterpiece (in particular, the vocals could be better), yet it still has some great moments, i.e. tracks #5 and #8:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Автомат DL-440 - "Жить в огне" [1989]

Artist: Автомат DL-440
Title: Жить в огне
Genre: Techno, Old School EBM
Country: USSR
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. С тобой
  2. Первый
  3. Жить в огне
  4. Рейтар
  5. Сто лет
  6. Помни
  7. Конвой
  8. Боль
  9. Ещё
  10. Пластик
Just look what I've found - a very rare example of early Soviet EBM, recorded in 1989 in Western Siberia using a tape recorder and a primitive Yamaha computer. The band was a duo consisting of Pavel Dudin (vocals & lyrics) and Andrei Udot (music), former members of a band called "The Hedgehogs" (no idea what sort of a band it was). Initially they were recording their stuff at home, but this album was recorded at a club where they were working at that time. Their dream was to perform on stage in Moscow wearing Robocop costumes, but unfortunately, the band broke up due to an internal conflict after an year or two of existence, without gaining any recognition.

Despite the (expectedly) poor quality of recording, their one and only tape is very interesting, and suprisingly similar to the Western EBM scene of that time, although I seriously doubt they were aware of this term (as all the electronic music of this sort was lumped into the "techno" category). The lyrics are said to be about "fantastic heroic deeds", which is fairly in line with the militaristic image of the early EBM bands as well. Overall, this release is a very valuable historical document at the very least, and definitely shouldn't be missed:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tom Dissevelt - "Fantasy in Orbit" [1963]

Artist: Tom Dissevelt
Title: Fantasy In Orbit: An Astronaut's Impressions While Orbiting The Earth
Genre: Experimental Electronic, Musique Concrete
Country: Netherlands
Release date: 1963

Track List:
  1. Ignition
  2. Atlantic
  3. Spearhead
  4. Zanzi
  5. Anchor Chains
  6. Tropicolour
  7. Gamelan
  8. Woomerangs
  9. Waltzing Matilda
  10. Pacific Dawn
  11. Gold And Lead
  12. Mexican Mirror
  13. Seconds To Eternity
  14. Re-Entry
Tom Dissevelt was a Dutch composer and jazz musician who, however, is better known for his experiments with electronic music between 1956 and 1963. His works have influenced David Bowie and the electronic music composers of the Berlin school later on. I've seen his music being tagged on last.fm as "heard from a spaceship" - but it isn't particularly similar to what is called "cosmic ambient" nowaday, and rather comparable to the early electronic/noise works of Yuri Morozov. Anyway, "Fantasy in Orbit" is clearly underrated and way ahead of its time (early 60s when electronic music scene was still in an embryonal state):

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cthulhu Biomechanical - "Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn" [1996]

Artist: Cthulhu Biomechanical
Title: Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn
Genre: Dark Ambient
Country: Russia
Release date: 1996

Track List:
  1. Fragment I - The Sky of Yuggoth (Summoning Cthulhu)
  2. Fragment II - Dream of Cthulhu (Deep in the Ocean)
  3. Fragment III - Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn
  4. Fragment IV - Cosmic Streams (Melancholy of Cthulhu)
This brilliantly named project was started in 1996 by the members of Draugwath - one of the first black metal bands from Russia, which later became quite well known after changing name to Blackdeath. Like in case with many side projects by 2nd wave black metal bands, it's very minimalistic dark/drone ambient. The sound is purely guitar-based (no synths whatsoever) and supposed to convey the true Lovecraftian horror atmosphere. This is as kvlt as it could get :) Interestingly, Cthulhu Biomechanical (often shortened to just Cthulhu) are still active today, having released a new album (which I haven't listened to yet) in the beginning of this year. As for this cassette, you can check it out here.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Mordor - "Csejthe" [1992]

Artist: Mordor
Title: Csejthe
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal, Industrial/Ambient
Country: Switzerland
Release date: 1992

Track List:
  1. Bloody Comtess
  2. First Birth Of the Cruel Nymph
  3. Last Demoniac Invocation
  4. Self Immolation for my Sweet Goddess of the Dark Dawn
  5. The Moment of the Worship of Total Evilution
  6. In Search of the Pure Negation
  7. Agony: The Ascent of the Mountain
Mordor, initially formed in 1987 as a proto-black metal band Arög, are one of the pioneers of funeral doom and drone/doom. Surely, these genres have gained a rather poor reputation by now due to the influx of numerous low-effort projects, but back then, a release like "Csejthe" was groundbreaking, even if the band members weren't too concerned with creating something unique and just played what they could (pretty much the same story as with Вой and early Thergothon).

"Csejthe" is often called an industrial doom metal release, and while I can see where it comes from, there are not that many metal elements. Its sound is mostly guitar-based dark/drone ambient (and even martial industrial at times); while doom metal riffs are present, they don't play a leading role. The lyrics are said to be about the exploration of what goes beyond the ordinary view of the world and human nature (which basically means the usual occult/horror stuff typical for lyrical themes in black metal). Overall, the value of this album is mostly historical, and it's definitely not a release for everyone's liking, yet it's interesting to see another innovative band from Switzerland that deserves to be mentioned among bands like Samael, Celtic Frost, Coroner, etc. And, with all honestly, "Csejthe" quite resembles some of the music I was trying to write as a teenager (of course I'm not going to show it to the public, though)...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Dvar - "Raii (demo)" [1997]

Artist: Dvar
Title: Raii
Genre: Darkwave, Experimental Electronic
Country: Russia
Release date: 1997

Track List:
  1. Ir
  2. Laali
  3. Schraii
  4. Ud Rah
  5. Khadash
  6. Hwhy 
Dvar are a good example of a meme band that eventually became much more successful than many completely serious bands in their genre. The story of Dvar started very much like the stories of many other outsider music projects: their homemade demo cassettes were distributed anonymously under the premise of "esoteric" qualities of the music. This demo, for example, was said to cause a negative influence on the lives of its listeners - which is BS of course, but who knows?.. Anyway, happy April Fools' Day, and don't be afraid to check "Raii" out:


The members of Dvar remain anonymous, but it's suspected that they're from well-known bands. In the cover art, they are represented by humanoid bees:
  • General Bee - vocals, drums, tabla, percussion, 8-bit sampling
  • Bee Warrior - keyboards, organs, vibraphones, horns, Commodore 64, Atari ST controller
  • Bee Girl (2008 - 2009) - tastiere, theremin, loops,  additional vocals
At the time when "Raii" was recorded, the band was apparently a duo. Here's the one and only known photo which is allegedly of them:

According to their interviews, "Dvar" is the name of a supernatural entity that actually writes all of the band's music and lyrics, which are in a made-up language based on Hebrew. Leaving aside all these bizarre stories, the music of Dvar is indeed quite unusual. While it'd be fair enough to label it as darkwave, the presence of weird screeching vocals gives a strange "black metal"-ish feel to it. While it's hard to take Dvar seriously, they have been a surprisingly popular and long-running project that has released quite a few albums during 1995-2012. Some of them can be found here, btw (my personal favourite is "Taai Liira").