Labytnangi: Freudian Irony from the Israeli Secret Service

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The group Labytnangi are from Kiev; that much is sure. Should you wish, however, to know more, the band will direct you to this link.  It's information about the Israeli Secret Service. Suddenly all bets about the validity of information are off. All we can do is listen to the band's own story and watch closely to see if any tongues are moving in the direction of a cheek.

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"What the hell does 'Labytnangi' mean?!"

"Find us a power socket and we'll show you."

"When the band Labytnangi first appeared, it was the official beginning of summertime, but still -30C outside. You could feel it in the musicians' studio, which was heated by a wood fire and some dry spirit. It was impossible to go beyond the door, because there were deep snowdrifts everywhere and the kind of blizzard that could freeze your soul." As if it's not enough wondering whether temperatures that low- plus drifts! - can really happen in the late Ukrainian spring, by the time we reach the end of this little paragraph, we've at least imagined an actual recording space cut off from the rest of Kiev by by high banks of snow. It seems we were right to suspend our disbelief.

Wrong.

Our masters of Israeli disinformation have trumped us, since the snowscape is to be understood metaphorically, not literally: "Amid this monotonous emptiness, as if in a Scandinavian film, there came the sounds of hope... The first chords of our band's single."

Amid this monotonous emptiness, as if in a Scandinavian film, there came the sounds of hope... The first chords of our band's single.

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The first signs of a tour bus, also.

"Hope" for what?  It helps if we turn to a brief sketch of how the group pens its aspirational ditties. "The band's words and music are both written in one fell swoop.  There's a broad thematic range: from lyrical motifs of unrequited love to praise for human perversion as the sign of death drives... of existence's only true and positive yearning. The group's songs are a final hope for Freud's 'here and now.'" In other words, these are tales of happily - properly! - chosen spontaneity that lead inevitably in the direction of both failure and self-harm.

Such are the states for which Labytnangi express hope.

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"I want to feel bad... I really want to..."

We're talking more about psychological endeavors here than about musical ones:  "The group's members swap elements of sonic archetypes, showing once again that music as a sphere of [novel] artistic enterprise has long been exhausted." Instead we're offered a performance worthy of "some society's most primitive members, the very embodiment of its desires and drives."

The group's members swap elements of sonic archetypes, showing once again that music as a sphere of [novel] artistic enterprise has long been exhausted.

They go further still and equate those drives, quite literally, with "fate." In other words: Labytnangi want what must happen; and what must happen is bad. It occurs at the end of the death drive. They desire what they know is doomed: yearning, therefore, takes place over getting; below we see three young men ready for misery.

The weather helps. As do sub-standard metalwork and low-grade paint.

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"What are you smiling at?" "Oh... the irony."

Take a look at the gentleman on the right, smoking. There's a hint of a smirk... which brings us to irony. Labytnangi's primitive garage rock expresses a certain verity (amid widespread social falsehood), but that same crude truth is destined to fail. Hence the self-deprecating smirk.

And this brings us to the new, second recording that has just been released, "Iold." "These recent songs express the full range of feelings inside a man wandering between places and worldviews, but without obtaining anything that resembles an absolute.  The accompanying musical style is something you might call ironic post-punk with the energy of rock and roll, all channeled through the naivety of analog sound and the severity of mass culture. One characteristic of this melange is that Labytnagi record exclusively in live, unedited settings."

They consider only the spontaneous, unedited, zero-production values of driven stagework to be proper.  Below we see an image of one such driven individual, taken from the band's MySpace page.  He - Valya Kotik - was a young hero of the Soviet war effort, who - as the subject of driven, "spontaneous" awareness of what was right - died in battle at the age of 14... Labytnangi are an impressive and promising band, but they should be kept as far as possible from anything resembling a politically sponsored concert!

 

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Audio

Labytnangi – Chemodan, vokzal, tsakhal (A Man, a Station, a Soldier)
Labytnangi – Liubit' po-russki (Love a la Russe)

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