Massive Distortion: Tacky Dimes, Mikhail Lezin, and Lust

Tacky Dimes are a very young outfit from Moscow who advertise themselves in Russian as follows: "We're the one ingredient that turns rock music... into real rock music! Today we can say that everything before us was simply run-of-the-mill pop with a dash of Tacky Dimes. The tougher rock music is, the more Tacky Dimes you'll find! Only the most hopeless musicians use pure, undiluted Tacky Dimes - those who've sunk to music's lowest depths..."

The composition of this missing, magical element is then explained to us in slightly clearer terms: "This is music for people who like their meat really rare - bloody and freshly cut. It's unadulterated fury. These guys are alive - they're cut from raw flesh themselves. They're destroyers of legеnds. The highest possible accolade for them is the smile on a sound operator's face - one that lasts an entire hour." 

This is music for people who like their meat really rare - bloody and freshly cut

Responsible for this subversive racket are two musicians known only as Kirill (vocals and guitar) and Alan (drums). In our "video" section, we include a brief clip from the band, showing them in action. "Our live set was supposed to last forty minutes, but the club owners told us that their working day was just about to end. As a result, they gave us only ten minutes. And so we played for no more than two."

Time enough to damage the walls.

They then add: "The only people who'd play a shorter set are metal-heads... at the opening of a retirement home!" The social uses of distortion here, turned into high romance by our artists, had originally developed in the US canon by accident. In other words, lo-fi amplifiers in the 1950s would sometimes break or rupture, producing an impure, growling sound. Only after such mishaps did it strike American performers that the same noises could be used both deliberately and in order to bolster their music's meaning.

The only people who'd play a shorter set are metal-heads... at the opening of a retirement home!

Excessive performance produced - accidentally - the fitting sounds.

If we were to extend Tacky Dimes' callow celebration of gruff guitar work - and consider its long-term significance across a couple of generations - then a logical parallel would be with the respected experimentalist Mikhail Lezin from Togliatti. This remarkably prodigious songwriter, visual artist, and musician, has new material on show, namely the two EPs "Amorphous" and "When Computers Go Wrong." Here Lezin lists his contribution as "bass guitar, self-made distortion, and sounds." He is accompanied by Evgenij Khalilov on drums.  

Loud shirt, louder music.

The sounds of excess and error are happily embraced. They are published together with a brief, though incredibly complex phrase from a certain "undRess Béton," otherwise known as German Dadaist Jaan Patterson. The baroque declaration on display reads: "Compressed and more pull against superior remembrance / above all phosphorescent million."

The specifics (and grammar) of that quote could be argued forever, but the scale on which this noise is interpreted evidently lies far above the here and now.

The work of Lezin and his Togliatti neighbors Pokhot' ("Lust") continues to credit turn-of-the-century Futurism as a major inspiration, specifically the work of Russo-Ukrainian poet Aleksei Kruchenykh (b. 1886). This leads us into the realm of zaum or the so-called "trans-rational" verse of the period that was designed to be maximally, if not endlessly imprecise. It severed any rational link between word and object: this nonsense poetry could mean anything - or everything. It was therefore lauded by some of its exponents as "the language of the gods."

Epiphany shone through the cracks of normal speech.

That which appeared to be grammatical failure was, allegedly, closer to some epic, even divine grandeur. The sound of mistakes became the soundtrack to a possible escape from earthbound tedium. 

It's an idea we see extended in the new material from Pokhot', entitled "Sequel" (Sikvel). Recorded with both Lezin and Khalilov, plus several other Togliatti colleagues, frontman Aleksei Kondrat'ev (below) draws immediately on the Futurist heritage - with some Dadaist elements, for good measure. What, apparently, we have before us is "epic, bob-tailed[!] retro-Futurism with some special, lightly-salted horse-tails of sense."

This is epic retro-futurism

Somewhere, trailing behind these trans-rational ramblings are logic and common sense. Put differently, within distortion and error lies a profound, though ineffable verity. Or so the story goes. Kondrat'ev himself looks fairly sure - and is definitely a more trustworthy source than the figure on the left.

His band's stage name likewise suggests a desperate search within physical experience for something purer or loftier. In the same way, the tracks from Lust are performed in a lurching, almost slovenly style, yet they speak of a cruel competition between vibrant, often fatal forces, each seeking to establish rectitude. We have titles such as "Horse-Meat Sausage," "I Stole Meat from a Gopher," "Sewage Water," and "Cocktails with an Aftertaste of Pork." 

Amid distorted guitars, with a tumultuous noise born of error, we find stories of an equally dramatic search for some vista above orderly, quotidian humdrum - and the demeaning comfort of any related musical limits, too. Beyond the crushing tedium of rationality is, perhaps, a superior purview - but the only way to know is through mistakes, themselves a product of excess. 

Expect more noise from the windows of Russian retirement homes - and other unsuitable venues. The romance of epic failure is alive and well. It resonates through the cracks of Togliatti streets - and seemingly has done for decades.

Audio

Pokhot' – I Stole Meat from a Gopher
Tacky Dimes – Keep Up Your Faith
Pokhot' – Sequel
Tacky Dimes – Something About Us

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