Against a backdrop of civic unrest, several Russian and Ukrainian performers opt for a more restrained or "estranged" aesthetic. They begin with the cool, mechanical operations of an old Roland 303.
For Western observers, many locations across a Russian map - with unpronounceable names and windswept railway stations - can appear unimaginably distant. In one of those lonely places we find SV Hutor.
Many hundreds of miles from Moscow, an ailing industrial town is home to some introspective, barely audible instrumentals. They celebrate friendship and community in ways that dismiss distance.
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.
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?
In a world frustrated by the harsh extremes of actuality or unpromising hope, the ideal location will be somewhere in between. These recordings celebrate a vague realm that's neither here, nor there.
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.
The phenomenon of vaporwave has been gathering critical traction in the US. In a Russian context, though, the same sounds recall a very different social reality.
Various thematic emphases cause four new recordings to opt for an understated hush. The passage of time, noisy modernity, and other problems make quietness both wiser and more appealing.
Four bands from Russian and Belarusian cities offer new recordings that ponder levels of self-determination. Various social and physical pressures tend all of these ensembles towards a kind of noisy acquiescence.