Monday, December 7, 2020

Прикладное Искусство - "Храм любви и труда" [1989]

Artist: Прикладное Искусство
Title: Храм любви и труда
Genre: Synthpop, Darkwave
Country: USSR (Karelia)
Release date: 1989

Track List:

  1. Поминальные танцы
  2. Храни меня
  3. Я ушёл в благословенный край 
  4. Гонконг I
  5. Обо всех и о ней
  6. В городе снег
  7. Гонконг II
  8. Они
  9. Илья пророк
  10. Храм любви и труда

Excellent but very obscure synthpop from Petrozavodsk (Karelia), with very poetic lyrics and dark sound, bordering on darkwave and comparable to some later equally obscure bands like Universal System. Unfortunately the band never got much publicity outside their home region, and never released a proper album. All we have is this cassette demo from 1989 (not even sure about its official name), some tracks from 1992-93, and a couple of new tracks released in 2006-07 (after the death of the band's founding member).

During the Soviet times, Karelia had a relatively thriving rock scene since the late 60s, due to its proximity to St. Petersburg and Finland, but that scene remained mostly unknown countrywide - mostly because, as a general rule, Karelian bands were far from typical "Russian rock", preferring to stay as close as possible to the classic sound of western rock bands instead, often singing only in English. A notable example is Dmitry "Dima" Yaroslavskiy (RIP 1999) with his ballad "Karelian Girl" which became a local hit in the late 80s:

He was a friend of Igor "Gariman" Shushunov, who was the mastermind of the band I'm presenting to you today. During the school years in late 70s, Igor already played drums in an art rock band The 13th Team, and in mid-1980, he was a member of one of the first metal bands in Karelia and USSR in general - O.V.N. (whose name translates as "Very High Voltage"; to the best of my knowledge, they left no recordings). Later he became interested in electronic music, and recorded the first 4-song demo in 1988 with the help of Sergey Pozhidaev, a professional programmer, and Dmitry Osipov, a keyboardist and singer with an unusual high-pitch voice.

Synthpop bands became to appear in the Soviet Union as early as in 1983, but the heyday of Soviet Depeche Mode clones was around 1990. That said, Прикладное Искусство were much more than just another Depeche Mode ripoff band, which is for good (as I've said before, I never was a big fan of Depeche Mode anyway, although I do like the remix of "Enjoy the Silence" by Mike Shinoda). Nearly every song on this cassette is a hit, but I especially like "Hong Kong I & II". There's only one surviving recording of their live performance from that time (around 1991), featuring a new song that was released circa 1992:

There's also a low-budget music video from an unknown date, but it definitely was made before the death of Igor Shushunov in 2002 (unfortunately, his daughter Yulia has also died not so long ago, in 2018):

Overall, they were one of the best bands on the early Russian/Soviet synthpop scene, despite the very limited access to musical equipment and nearly no recognition outside of their home region, and I'd recommend them to everyone who's looking for good but undeservedly forgotten synthpop and darkwave. Enjoy:


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