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South of Heaven: Stereopie, RSAC, Scaly Whale, and Koloah
A new side-project from St Petersburg jazz composer Arman Sidorkin inspires a romantic tone of approval from audiences. Other recordings, however, need to push harder against reality.
Seaward: HAARPS, Raskureal, Sun Goes Nova, and Yaroslav Konoplya
The symbolism of Russia's Pacific Ocean appears in two new recordings. It is a gentle counterpart to some daunting evocations of the Far North and outer space, even. The sea looks more welcoming than the stars.
A Detached, Yet Passionate View of the Past: Port Mone and Swing Couture
Port Mone and Swing Couture are from Minsk and St Petersburg. Although their uses of folk and gypsy tradition differ, these two ensembles evoke the sounds of prior decades - bound by similar and often tragic experience
VIA Tatiana: Savoir Faire, Silk Dresses, and a Really Heavy Trombone
On occasion, especially on major holidays, it can seem today as if Russian television is overrun with nostalgia - and the songs thereof. The scale of this phenomenon is not difficult to explain. The juggernaut of nationwide media before the 1990s was able to unify multiple time zones with the same...
B*Side: Never Mind the Beaujolais, Here's the Squirrel
A few days ago, three charming songs appeared online from a young, undiscovered Moscow outfit known as B*Side.  Any efforts directed at unearthing more about the band will quickly pass through a thin, insubstantial layer of PR - and find themselves ensconced within the musicians' private lives. I...
Markscheider Kunst: The Happy, Cuban Spirit of Nothing At All
Markscheider Kunst are a large, disorderly ska/reggae ensemble from St Petersburg. The last time we looked at the band was in June 2008, when they were releasing their sixth album. On that occasion we said: "Despite the disconcerting complexity of their name, Markscheider Kunst have been around...
Anzhelika Varum: Minor Philosophy, Major Noise
Anzhelika Varum - for those few people living in the forest who may not know - is one of the most enduring post-Soviet pop stars.  Born in 1969, her father is to this day a successful composer; her mother worked for many years as a theatrical producer in their hometown of Lviv, Ukraine. During...
"Stiliagi": The Soundtrack
In tough times, people get nostalgic.  As the Russian economy descends at an impressive rate, a hit musical has reached domestic screens: "Stiliagi."  The term, based on the Russian word for "style," might best be translated as "Teddy Boys," since the action takes place in 1955.   The promot...
Billy's Band: "Kupchino, the Capital of the World"
Yesterday a new album appeared in the mail, this time from St Petersburg outfit Billy's Band.  One of the phrases they often use to promote themselves is "Funeral Dixieland with an Eternally Happy Ending";  that slogan shows well the extremes embodied by the ensemble, both in theme and style. ...
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