An ailing monument in Elektrostal', outside Moscow
Despite any disconcerting overtones in the moniker "Madfriend," this stage-name belongs to a rather quiet young man - Vova Nosov - from just outside Moscow. More specifically, he is from the industrial town of Elektrostal'. Maybe thirty miles from the capital's center, Elektrostal' is now a suburban area that once benefitted greatly from industrial development under Stalin. Until the late 1930s, in fact, the town was known as Zatish'e, which can be translated as "Lull" or "Calm." Heavy machinery appeared swiftly - and with much noise. Political and industrial maximalism used to dictate a great deal here. As we can see above, though, some of those old structures from the '30s may still be standing, but they do so only with difficulty. Homes once designed to shelter the workforce are themselves now exhausted. Statues crumble.
Much of Nosov's downtempo enterprise within the realm of abstract hip-hop suggests that the "calm" years of Elektrostal's history would be much more appealing than any Stalinist grandeur or civic chutzpah. In fact, when asked by a Russian webzine recently to compose a small mixtape or playlist, Nosov was introduced by the editors as an author of "warm and melodic compositions."
Warm and melodic compositions
For this reason, it's odd to see that he has traced some of his earliest affection for music to a well-known Prodigy album, given to him by his parents - at the age of nine! "When I first listened to it, an entirely new world opened up for me. Over time, the 'Fat of the Land' CD had a huge influence upon my tastes." While his home address may have remained constant since those early years, his tools and technology have evidently changed. Listeners have become authors - and homebound stargazers now yearn for acts of consequence.
A more logical inspiration for these sounds, perhaps, would be the catalog of Telefon Tel Aviv, whose music makes our Moscow artist "want to forget everything and run off somewhere. It makes me feel like moving - or driving fast. It's perfect for an introspective and slightly gloomy mood..." Whether or not that emotional state is linked to the passing in 2009 of TTA's Charles Cooper is unexplained to us, but in any case dreaming and melancholy occupy the same space.
Put differently, wishes and actuality remain at a distance from one another. Frustration ensues.
Music for an introspective and slightly gloomy mood...
This fractious relationship between hope and normality is extended by another beatmaker, PRKHRV. Those six consonants can be expanded not only to produce the surname Prokhorov, but also to reveal the specific figure of Yaroslav Prokhorov, based in the town of Dzerzhinsky on Moscow's southern periphery. This callow artist is already known to us as Orlando15, the subject of several texts on FFM.
He, too, is occupied with the difficulties of combining life and... something better. "This year I'd like to take my driving test, get through school, go to Croatia for the summer, find stable employment somewhere, buy an apartment... and maybe find love!" On one of his social networking profiles, Prokhorov documents his main inspiration as "pretty girls." The search commences for true love and a livelihood, simultaneously.
In the meantime, others benefit from his affection.
The gap between desire and typicality seems only to increase. When we last looked at the music of Orlando15, we mentioned that his (then) social profile included a small poem of his own making. Translated into prose, the lines read: "When the skies open up, and the stars shine brighter.... When I reach places I've never seen. When, when... when?" Statements soon turned into questions; certainty morphed into vagueness. According to the logic of those phrases, the more Yaroslav gives voice to a romantic outlook or expresses himself through melody, the more unanswered questions will transpire. An empirical style of abstract hip-hop, born of scissors, glue, and a disdain for rhythmic consistency, spawns both discoveries and doubt.
When the skies open up and the stars shine brighter...
What we have, as a result, is a classic situation within romanticism: a synonymy between artistic gain and social uncertainty. More is written - to the benefit of subjective experience, not objective knowledge. The distance from social, standard enterprise only increases. There's a good reason why modern storytelling still depicts artistically gifted figures as loners.
And so PRKHRV turns to his potential audience on Vkontakte with a request for validation and support. "Please tell your friends to post these tracks on their wall. Click on 'Like'... and all that kind of nonsense. I'll be really grateful! If you're able, please upload the album onto forums, get it onto group pages and other sites. Thanks in advance to anybody who can help." The biggest dreamers have the least confidence.
An extension of that relationship between dreams and what's "doable" only magnifies the scale of reverie as actuality refuses to play along. Desire soon outstrips common sense. Take, for example, the producer known as SLP. Three more consonants refer here to the figure of Alexey Slepuha, a resident in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar. That location has, over the last few years, proven to be one of the nation's most important centers for electronic music. Nonetheless, despite any temptation to champion the achievements of his hometown, Slepuha and his discography continue to be swathed in the abstract, even astral metaphors of solitude. Dreaming is directed far beyond the city limits.
The accumulated experience of soundwaves, transmitting both the past and present
And so Mr. Slepuha now publishes an EP with the title of "Experience." Sporting artwork and a gaze far above local power-lines or tree tops, this recording promises the "accumulated experience of soundwaves, transmitting both the past and present. This new release will take you to dancefloors of the past, while offering collaborative techno and house work, written with [my colleague] 25/4."
By drawing upon some old-school sounds, a delicate balance is found between nostalgia and novelty, irony and earnestness. Memories will always offer a pleasing equilibrium between risky innovation and the comfort of familiarity. For that reason, perhaps, the same monochrome artwork is given us in slightly unfocused shapes... The distant goal of romantic musing, so hard to reach, is perhaps conjured in deliberately vague outlines.
Lest it not be there.