Several months ago, we looked at the work of Novosibirsk resident Egor Klochikhin, otherwise known as Last Holidays (Poslednie Kanikuly). We quoted a text that he then used for promotional and contextual purposes: "This [musical] endeavor is conducted by Egor - both at home and alone. Without falling to any generic cliches, he composes dramatically experimental works. They're a bit sentimental and rather naive, too. Listeners can find a great deal within them, though, starting with [the development of] epic instrumental passages. That scale, marked both by depth and variety, morphs into various electronic effects - and lots of movie samples. It all requires hard work, both for the composer and audience."
The sound of a strong wind, sweeping everything away
He then likened his melodies to a "strong gust of wind, sweeping everything away. Not in a cruel or aggressive manner - it's just the way things are. I can't do this any differently." A first-person pronoun emerged at the close; from within the standoffish context of third-person prose, a diminutive lyricism endured. Faceless noise had a private meaning.
A final few lines then informed us that upstanding music should ideally be "driven both by one's emotions and free associations. After all, the author sacrifices a bit of himself in every [heartfelt] sound..." Unwilling to turn this dream-like, instrumental privacy into a wordy treatise, Klochikhin ended with a self-deprecating reference to his own rambling: "la-la, la-la, la-la, la-la..." Lots to ponder, but little to say.
Egor Klochikhin (Novosibirsk)
He now has new recordings on display, headed by the declaration that we're dealing with a "strong, Siberian 'post-sound.' There's nostalgia in each and every second." Two releases have appeared this spring in support of that credo or stance: "Romashka" (Camomile) and "Menia net na etikh fotografiiakh" (I'm Not in These Photos). Both are dramatically colored by feelings of transience and loss. "Nostalgia" is slowly overcome by irreversible decline and a process of self-erasure.
Even the author of these tracks calls them "dark, sad, and heartrending." He asks his audiences to "listen, stay quiet... and weep." There's much to be learned in noiseless contemplation, but the results may not be terribly consoling. Wisdom and comfort are very different things...
Dark, sad, and heartrending noise
Even greater despair(!) is evident in the discography of Eva Adams from Saint Petersburg. Whatever that stage-name might suggest, we're looking at a collection of young men - plus a couple of female vocalists (neither of whom are called Adams). Our mysterious female figure actually comes from the 1997 novel by Alexander Zinovyev, "The Humant Hill." The band - with some quotes from Zinovyev's text - remind us that this woman was "the most insignificant creature on the face of the Earth." She became famous, however, because a movement began to use her date of birth as the starting point for a new calendrical system. Nothingness was raised to the point of purity - a "ground zero" from which endless potential could begin. Anything and everything could start from the freedom of nothing.
In that same spirit, the band states bluntly on one of their modest websites: "Eva Adams is... all of you." And what does nothingness sound like? The band promises "an experimental approach in a suicidal, minimalist, and post-metal vein." Canceling oneself out may be a new and liberating opportunity.
This intriguing, yet unnerving appeal of absence and emptiness was best summed up by the artwork for a recent Eva Adams release. Here a large quote was used from Dostoevsky's "The Idiot," specifically a scene in which Prince Myshkin's view that "Beauty will save the world" is loudly, crudely challenged. His response? Silence.
Flying in the face of sage noiselessness are Deep Winter, a garage rock duo from the industrial center of Izhevsk. Created only last year, the group consists of two men: Pavel "Blacktown" - on vocal and drums - together with Alexander Kurusin, both playing guitar and providing vocal support. Happy to credit their influences, Blacktown and Kurusin lean enthusiastically towards classic rock in the spirit of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath. To that archival list they add those bands who've either drawn heavily upon that tradition (White Stripes) or have simply reemployed figures from the same, greying generation (Them Crooked Vultures).
Nice f***in'g sound, guys!
Deep Winter's growing appeal - cast in English-language texts and within a recognizable canon - slowly moves overseas. Soundcloud already offers a few snapshots of what Western listeners are beginning to appreciate: one listener even declares that "the Russians are once again a world superpower"(!). From Mexico we hear: "Nice f***ing sound, guys! Rock 'n' roll... cheers from Cancun!" On an even more spontaneous level, a third distant fan proclaims: "I like that sh*t... sexy and heavy!" Against the backdrop of silence, introspection, and anxiety, impetuous noise seems better.
A related - yet different! - stance is evident in the small catalog of Saint Petersburg's Siberian Tsars. Just as the band's name includes simultaneous pomp and self-mockery, so these musicians declare their fidelity to "psychedelic dream pop." Big dreams are cultivated in small spaces - away from the world - with some liquid help.
Founded last November, Siberian Tsars - just like Deep Winter - have nothing to say for themselves, save a small promotional text, in which we learn their Christian names: Yura, Sasha, and Igor. "These guys write and perform psychedelic noise-pop under the influence of music from the '70s and '90s in particular. They play electric guitars, which are swathed in the sound of overloaded drums and bass. To that you can add a couple of strong voices, some drum machines, and a ton of antique stuff in the background."
"Last autumn, everybody moved downtown - and settled into a spacious attic apartment. They set up a basic studio and recorded their first - eponymous - EP. Inspired by notions of new-wave surf and grunge, these guys have now begun work on a debut album. They plan to release it this summer." From the dark corners of a nameless attic come the sounds of spiraling psychedelia.
Psychedelic noise-pop, influence by music from the '70s and '90s in particular
These four bands all adopt an interesting stance towards the (substantial) sound they make. In Novosibirsk, Egor Klochikhin (as Last Holidays) associates the drone-like textures of his catalog with the quiet, irreversible passage of time. And yet, in the name of brutal honesty, he also asks his audiences to adopt a similar silence "and weep." Misery and wisdom are better than noisy ignorance. Eva Adams, pushing that logic further, champion the identity of a literary figure so profoundly insignificant (or silent) that her very nothingness becomes a place from which all manner of activity is possible. Anything can begin in the middle of nowhere... which leads to some paradoxical thoughts about the "benefit" of suicide. Maybe the entire erasure of oneself would be the start of something better?
Unswayed by such arguments, Deep Winter wave the flag of impetuous clamor - and the public is grateful, too. Siberian Tsars, pondering a degree of noisy confidence, lean instead on the homebound adventures of psychedelia - dreaming big from the shabby comfort of a downtown attic. Judging by the image below, the very prospect of going outdoors is cause for worry. Hiding from the contents of one's head and the workings of fate can be tricky indeed.
"Waiting for the Concert" (Siberian Tsars, February 2012)