In the absence of a clearly structured marketplace, contemporary music in Russia is increasingly a form of self-expression. Social impact is neither easy, nor especially wanted.
As a range of obstacles, both private and professional, stop musicians from working uninterrupted, diligence acquires a new significance. It becomes a form of transcendence, far above material woes.
The Saint Petersburg duo VEiiLA uses some mythical figures to explain the power of sound over ostensible reality. Any ability of music to counter local misery, however, depends very much on one's location.
Faith is an integral part of Moscow's Gayana project, whose members are both grateful and committed to God. Other beliefs, however, transpire in releases from Ukrainian and Latvian musicians this week.
Several new Russian electronic recordings display an increasing gratitude for both solitude and silence. The further one happens to be from clamorous modernity or a capital city, the better.
Various dissatisfactions emerge in new recordings from Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Nizhny Novgorod. They all lead to a yearning for better values - represented by distant places or prior experience.
Disenchanted with their hometown experience, a number of rock outfits prefer imagination to actuality. Inspiration is found in bedroom solitude, post-Soviet gangster bravado, and even some Buddhist tenets.
From downtempo lounge to broken techno and "psychoactive go-fi," a range of new Russian dance floor recordings prefer to celebrate private, rather than public effort.
New drone and industrial recordings from Russia and Ukraine turn their attention simultaneously to anxiety and depression. Both, perhaps, indicate dissatisfaction - and therefore a burgeoning hope.
From Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania come four responses to the drudgery and dead weight of quotidian experience. The most satisfying among them involve looking backwards.