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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Closing The Eternity - "Kosmodrones" [2011]

Artist: Closing The Eternity
Title: Kosmodrones
Genre: Dark Ambient, Drone
Country: Russia
Release date: 2011 (recorded 1999-2002)

Track List:
  1. Только жёлтая заря
  2. Только звезды ледяные
  3. Только миллионы лет
It's time to post here something by the last major project of Anton Shafarostov aka 121 that wasn't featured on my blog yet. You might know 121 by such projects as Velehentor, Valhalla, Nuclear Winter, or Кобь, or if you can read Russian - by his Twilight Shadows webzine (which, unfortunately, seems to be defunct now). Under the CtE moniker, he released several space ambient/drone albums whose main theme is the insignificance of Earth and the human civilization on the cosmic scale:
"The sound of CLOSING THE ETERNITY is based upon drones, and developed with ambient and noise touches. The first and the second albums were written in very misanthropic and materially-minded way. Then 121 made a pause to conceive the essence of CLOSING THE ETERNITY as a ultimate abstraction from all human-related aspects… from everything that could be concerned with terrestrial civilisation"
Like the other projects of 121, CtE sounds quite professional when compared to most other underground music projects in 90's and early 2000s' Russia. Let's be honest: drone ambient is often considered to be quite low effort genre, but this can't be said about CtE, despite the minimalistic composition of the music. According to 121, he became interested in ambient music after he heard "Comala" by Jorge Reyes as a kid in 1986, but he started making his own music only in late 90s. 121 himself describes the sound of "Kosmodrones" as "deeply spatial dark drones with distant and haunting melodic lines". The track titles are taken from a short nihilist poem by Georgy Ivanov, which is one of my favourites too.

121 seems to have completely quit making his own music after the release of the "Ceremonial Death" EP by Velehentor, although he mixed and mastered albums for several black metal bands in the last few years. According to this article (which even mentions my blog, by the way), the maestro was also spotted at a 2013 convention of electronic music composers in California. And yes, he's now a high-ranked official, which isn't a big surprise - after all, prime ministers and even presidents that listen to metal aren't unheard of, and misanthropy is a trait that's certainly expected from a public official, but... Just watch this video. Does that man wearing glasses looks like a black metal musician? Yet he is (or, at least, was):

Friday, April 12, 2019

Bad Sector - "Kosmodrom" [2005]

Artist: Bad Sector
Title: Космодром
Genre: Dark Ambient, Industrial
Country: Italy
Release date: 2006 (2xCD reissue 2013)

Track List:
  1. Energiya
  2. Telemetry
  3. June 16, 1963
  4. Baikonur
  5. Extravehicular
  6. Vjezna
  7. Orbiter
  8. Beacon
  9. April 12, 1961
  10. Kosmos
Bonus CD:
  1. Oktober 4, 1957
  2. Extravehicular 2
  3. Cosmos 69
  4. Plesetsk
  5. Almaz
  6. Zvezdi
  7. Kapustin Yar
  8. Чайка
  9. Extravehicular 3
On Cosmonauts' Day, I'm posting this conceptual work by Massimo Magrini, dedicated to the works of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and their practical applications that ultimately led to the first human spaceflight on April 12, 1961 (the case where you can use the words "rocket science" unironically). Parts of it were recorded in Moscow and St. Petersburg using the old Soviet ANS synthesizers (those were already mentioned on my blog several times in connection to the history of Russian/Soviet synthpop). I'd bet that Massimo's music is better known here than at his home in Italy, partially because of this release too :)

When it comes to sound, "Kosmodrom" doesn't offer many surprises to the fans of Bad Sector. Like Massimo's other releases, it's better described as sound engineering (a field that Massimo possesses a scientific degree in) rather than music, and it's intended to be the modern (post-)industrial music in its pure form. However, you aren't going to hear any harsh noise on there; it's "nerdy" cosmic ambient for the most part, with some occasional elements of rhythmic noise. This 2xCD edition was released by Loki-Found, a German label specialized in dark/cosmic ambient, in 2013, and it's partially available as a free listen on Bandcamp. Of course, you also can download it from dark-world.ru or elsewhere, especially considering that Massimo himself has nothing against musical piracy and admits being a pirate himself :3

Monday, April 1, 2019

Nambavan - "Last Night The DJ Shaved My Ass" [2006]

Artist: Nambavan
Title: Last Night The DJ Shaved My Ass
Genre: Experimental, Minimal Techno
Country: Russia
Release date: 2006

Track List:
  1. Last Night The DJ Shaved My Ass
  2. Shooting On The Gay-Party
  3. Sad Song
  4. Tunnel
  5. You Should Be Dancing Dub
Honestly, until today I never thought I'd ever post anything related to Nambavan on here. But today's the 1st of April, so why not? Moreover, this particular album suprisingly fits the spirit of my blog quite well, which can't be said about the rest of Nambavan discography.

Nambavan (pronounced as "number one" with a thick Russian accent) is a moniker of Linar Bilalov, who is also known as an owner of a now defunct site bratan.info (which was pretty much the 2000s equivalent of Life of Boris). He has released several albums of trashy electronic music with offensive lyrics, which would be best described as "unintelligent dance music" (in fact, it sounds more like electroclash than anything else). While there's not much in the discography of Nambavan worth listening to, his cartoonishly anti-intellectual image has became a meme that's still remembered after almost a decade of inactivity. The last.fm biography of Nambavan is worth checking out too:
Using a broken $3 mic, an $80 guitar and an old Casio keyboard, Nambavan puts together dirty disco tracks that will pizdelovka you on the dance floor. Time and space traveler Nambavan brings you the nasty eighties punk pop that the USSR never had, coveting and cultivating dancefloor rhythms, analogue distortions and droll hip hop references.
At his home in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, where few make their own music, Nambavan started out by enrolling in a music school to learn the guitar, but was expelled for not being able to remember songs. He moved on to the digital world, bought his first PC in 2000 and started composing.
This album, however, is very different. With its name being an obvious pun on "Last Night The DJ Saved My Life" (and no, "Shooting On The Gay Party" obviously isn't a reference to the Orlando massacre which happened a decade after this track was recorded, although cynical references of this kind are very much in the habit of Nambavan), it's the only entirely instrumental album of Nambavan which offers a pretty interesting mixture of noises, clicks and other experimental sounds. Headphone listening is recommended:
Nambavan’s first album without vocal and electronic melodies, written down after two weeks of experiments with analog noise, clicks, delays, highpass house filters and broken groove rhythms.
You will feel how music collapses in your head.
All in all, I haven't expected anything like this from Nambavan, and if you're a fancier of obscure experimental electronic music, it will be a very interesting find for you... or maybe not. But seriously, what would you expect from an album that's literally titled "Last Night The DJ Shaved My Ass"?..