These four new releases from Russia and Ukraine all lean towards a validation of smallness. There are various reasons not to be loud, arrogant, and self-assured. Local history is one of them.
St. Petersburg's Microcosmos Records has published a chillout compilation that serves to illustrate the meaning of downtempo modes in Northern Russia. Reverie travels very far from home indeed.
А sneaking suspicion that actuality is increasingly loud and intolerant leads to the search for other options: quieter love songs, wanton surrealism, or an escape into the realm of virtual bands.
Moscow's Fancy Music is announcing a range of new jazz recordings. Originating both in the capital and Novosibirsk, they give voice to a passionate defense of deviation, difference, and inclusion.
Some new publications reflect a struggle with institutionalized hassles: the academy, journalistic dispproval, issues of copyright, and "grown-up" cynicism. An alternative is needed.
Two bands from Minsk and two from St. Petersburg give collective thought to issues of self-determination. In all four cases, there's an awareness that freedom and fate are tightly bound.
One of the more enduring assumptions or stereotypes regarding Slavic songwriting would be that of sadness, if not misery. When melancholy does indeed make an appearance, what form does it take?
Against the backdrop of a happy, productive hip-hop community in Latvia, some new publications by Russian artists take a dark view of group membership. Kindness and collaboration are both absent.
Ranging from lo-fi wistfulness to noise-rock, these four collectives all look askance at social life. The only way for them to make sense of the outside world is through recourse to senselessness.
The Estonian label Ounaviks continues to produce a wide and wonderful range of folk reinterpretations for a new generation. From within that antique heritage comes a reconsidered worldview.