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.
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.
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.
Some new recordings from Belarus and Russia endorse a practice of impromptu creativity. Various things, however, stand in the way of any such freedoms: the allure of profit, habit, alcohol... and fate itself.
On October 27, the Big Samhain festival will take place in Saint Petersburg. It gathers a wide range of folk traditions from Russia, Scotland, Ireland, and France - to name but four windswept lands.
The Sketis organization continues to champion а crisscrossing of folk traditions. Not only is canonical practice forced to incorporate novelty; peripheral locations are also paid major attention.
Themes of transience come to the fore, either in terms of impermanent human achievements or the passing of the seasons. Once that universal flow is recognized, a sense of calm transpires.
Some new recordings and live performances raise a couple of related issues. To whom does "Russian folk" belong and - once that dilemma is clarified - how we talk of similar couplings, such as "Russian soul"?
Two of these ensembles borrow from a folk heritage; the other two have their roots in recent rock music. The former pair manages to foster a sense of optimism; the latter falls to growing fatalism.