Contra Tempus: Floans BitFlip, Malish Kamu, Eva V, and F3NRIRS

Taganrog duo Malish Kamu (Малыш Камю), performing in Ukraine

The phrase Malish Kamu refers to a couple of young musicians from the southern city of Taganrog. Not only do those two words sound confusing; they've also been transliterated from "Малыш Камю" - or "Camus' Child." For this reason, perhaps, most of the project's web resources opt for Cyrillic characters; things are marginally easier when left in the original...especially when there's some additional wordplay upon the Scandinavian "Moomin" stories. Whatever the complexities, an immediate reference to childhood helps to anticipate a specific musical style. As one online admirer recently said of Malish Kamu: "Everything sounds so nice! The vocals remind me of a tiny, good-natured cartoon." An acoustic duo - Evgeny and Ekaterina - sing of minor concerns from a leafy backwater that's probably most famous in the West as Chekhov's birthplace.

Taganrog's origins go back to prehistoric times; the birth of an increasingly busy settlement would subsequently be very well documented by Greek historians. There are good reasons for people to gather on these warm shores. The same tides that brought Hellenic visitors would also lead Peter the Great, many centuries later, to build a major naval base here. His strategic investments in the region would one day evolve and emerge as the Black Sea Fleet. Both trade and national security would benefit.

We operate according to a simple formula...

Needless to say, the real boom occurred in the nineteenth century, when decades rich in commercial activity would fill Taganrog's dockyards with ships from all across Europe. Those same trade routes then led to serious industrial development inland. Companies sailed into port, stayed, and invested heavily: people, languages, and currencies interwove both quickly and effectively. Even today, cultural "imports" and "exports" inform one another. Living rooms and dockyards remain close. Somewhere within this busy social sphere, Malish Kamu consider lyrical themes through the prism of what another fan has called "pleasant, quiet, and carefree dream-pop. It all sounds beautiful; I've really nothing else to add."

Small-scale spontaneity remains key: "We create music purely for the love of it. We don't have a record label or formal publishing company. We operate according to a simple formula: whenever someone likes our songs, it leads to an invitation to perform." Most of those impromptu performances take place with a couple of ukuleles. A heartfelt minimalism seems to protect Malish Kamu from the impending woes of adulthood. "Perhaps, one day, we'll find work doing something that brings happiness to others. For now, though, our music is a place where we can create joy and beauty..."

A transitional stage. Malish Kamu: "Carefree Songs" (2013)

These ideals have become so widely appealing to southern audiences that Malish Kamu are looking for a new colleague. Among all the required criteria, first and foremost is the need to "be a kind person." 

Even more explicit in its celebration of innocence and kindness is a new project known as Eva V.; its background image on a Bandcamp profile is nothing more than a crayon scribble. (We've borrowed that same doodle for the band's avatar.) The cause of such colorful artlessness is the age of one contributor: eighteen months. More specifically, Eva V is the very young daughter of Vladimir Komarov, a musician from Novosibirsk who would go on to develop a career between his hometown, Moscow, and - ultimately - New York. Those stepping stones were made possible through employment in several bands we've documented on FFM, like Hot Zex, Punk TV, and - most recently - Monolizard.

Untranslatable lyrics

Komarov says his daughter produced some "untranslatable lyrics" for the recording, but therein lies the charm. These are simple things adults have forgotten how to express.

Kindness and "pre-adult" dignity are raised higher still in the new compositions from a Samara resident, Anton Kovrov, who performs under the complex stage-name of Floans Bitflip. Here the slick, often self-assured traditions of hip-hop are seriously manipulated - all in the name of a striving spirit, heading over the horizon. As he jokes on one site, Kovrov was - officially - born in Kuibyshev, which is the old Soviet name for Samara (chosen in honor of a grey Soviet functionary). Our artist's hometown is therefore officially absent - and he hasn't even gone anywhere. Physical space is swiftly questioned.

In the absence of material values, something simpler and more resilient - hopefully - comes to the fore.

Simple sketches. Eva V (Novosibirsk/New York): "Up" (2013)

On one page of a social network, Floans Bitflip declares his "religious views" to be "conscience" alone. Morality is raised to the level of faith. A social virtue is sought within (wavering) tangible experience, together with a very long list of foreign musical influences; good behavior and good music go hand in hand. Kovrov's recordings certainly deserve a wider audience, but what kind of outlook might work best, given the overarching penchant we see here for hip-hop as an escapist vehicle? What might a young dreamer do in the real world - especially as he grows older?

Not long ago, Kovrov posted some wise words from a site dedicated to local "business strategies." It promises Russian-language "quotes that have influenced millions of people. They're applicable to business, economics, finance, and success." In translation, the wisest saying chosen by Floans Bitflip assures us of some social karma, in other words it implies that both goodness and malice will be returned in kind. "He who deceives will be deceived; your actions will not vanish. The future's boomerang will hit you hard, and give back all you've done." 

When we sing in our own language, it simply sounds ridiculous

If, therefore, dreamers cannot flee their earthbound, adult existence, they should at least behave nicely(!). And that suitably sentimental, if not naive, conclusion sits most comfortably with the outlook of Malish Kamu and Eva V. Care and sentiment mean a great deal in places where they're lacking.

In the same way, perhaps, Floans Bitflip recently uploaded a quote from Leonardo Dicaprio, the context of which is as follows. Russia's president held a charity event this year, designed to improve the fate of (and funding for) endangered Siberian tigers. Dicaprio, as a honored guest, encountered some awful flying conditions en route, but still insisted on attending. Putin for that reason branded the actor a "real man" (muzhik), especially after he gave a generous donation. Dicaprio was subsequently quizzed on the issue by Western journalists. He attributed any real virtues to his Slavic forefathers. He even mentioned that his grandmother - with the surname Smirnova - was herself Russian. Having passed through the unspeakable hardships of the twentieth century in that land, she was deemed by her American grandson the embodiment of inner strength and integrity.

Such ethical and familial standards are, feels Kovrov, rarely encountered in today's world.  

Aimless history. Floans Bitflip's remixes of Cheese People

The most recent output from Floans Bitflip has been a remix of the 2013 LP by Samara's own Cheese People: "Mediocre Ape." That album drew heavily upon the work of Russian novelist Viktor Pelevin, whose view of Russian history is often swathed in drugs, mists, and mystery. In other words, Pelevin frequently implies that East European history is driven neither by patriotism nor by planning; things happen according to luck, sheer accident, or some immoral, woefully irrational force. Dressed like "White" czarist troops on the album's cover, Cheese People said their studio work for "Mediocre Ape" had sometimes tended towards "complete nonsense [bred]." The best way to make music of national relevance was to throw common sense out the window - and then play upon novels of historical or ethical waywardness.

Relevant songs needed to be disorderly songs.

And, according to the same logic, Cheese People have often admitted they find it hard to speak of local experience in their own tongue. "You have to be a real poet, to put it crudely. You need a God-given talent... We're always trying to write something in Russian, but it simply ends up sounding ridiculous. The result's completely awful."

Electronic. Dead (F3NRIRS)

Better, instead, to engage one's local reality through the phonetic oddity of another tongue. If life across the twentieth century has proven to be "nonsensical" - and efforts at civic change have recalled a fundamentally hallucinatory experience - then one's own language might fall victim to the same processes.

An extreme example of that rationale appears in the young project from KazanF3NRIRS. This nameless enterprise, which seems to involve two local souls, tags itself with a couple of striking terms: "electronic" and "dead." All other information is absent (since there's nothing to say), yet a peripheral influence can at least be ascertained. F3NRIRS is tied in some vague manner to Kazan resident "Poligraf Sharikov." He opens his networking profile with nothing more than three direct and simple words in English, seemingly as a combination of physical states and imperatives: "Drunk. Dance. Smoke." There's no forward-looking narrative to be made. Language stutters, states the obvious, and then shuts down.

Sharikov also makes music under the banner of Sadwave, a term that's used in the English-speaking press to make fun of excessively miserable, introspective songwriting. Judging by the attitudes of Malish KamuEva V., Floans Bitflip, and F3NRIRS to impending adulthood and the general passage of time, things are only going to get sadder.

A stubborn, innocent denial of time's passage: F3NRIRS

Audio

Malish Kamu – Carefree Songs
F3NRIRS – Cuzwelie
Eva V – Deika-Day
Cheese People – Fight (Floans BitFlip Rmx)
F3NRIRS – Haunted Date (Glass Cape)
Eva V – Nani
Malish Kamu – The Day You'll Go Away
Cheese People – Video Game Part (Floans BitFlip Rmx)

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