Triangle Sun: The Birth of Lounge... and Death of Casinos

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Occasionally we bump up against performers whose lack of mainstream success is bewildering: Triangle Sun are one good example of how national media is woefully lacking in its service to (and reflection of) that same nation. Major lacunae pepper the coverage offered by music-driven TV and radio. Triangle Sun certainly can't be dismissed for purveying a style that's incompatible with central broadcasting, either; by their own admission, they're craftsmen of music that "creates an atmosphere for relaxing and gentle introspection."

Peace to one and all.

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Modishness is also not an issue: they enjoy a certain degree of foreign cache in that their work has been included on one of the prestigious Ibiza-based Cafe del Mar compilations, thus becoming the first Russian ensemble to enter the pantheon of Mediterranean lounge. Since that time, they've also scaled the heights of Russian dance music - performing at Kazantip - and offered concerts to the good people of London. These increasingly successful endeavors, further and further afield, led to a debut album in 2007, "Diamond Sun."  When re-released the following year, it was published in an expensive gatefold DVD cover, together with a second disc of balearic instrumentals by DJ List.

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Life in modern Russia, to put it mildly, is a long way from the sleepy sunshine of Ibiza, and Triangle Sun have few - if any - competitors on the Russian scene. And yet, if we were to look for paralells in the Western canon, we'd end up name-checking people such as Mick Hucknall or Sade, both of whom enjoy stubborn rotation on Russian radio stations long after they've fallen out of fashion (or stopped recording!) in their home nations. What, then, is the appeal of Triangle Sun, and how might they hope to bridge the gaps between peculiar anonymity, modest recognition in Spain, and the long-lasting appeal of their overall aesthetic, albeit performed by others?

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This conundrum led the band to ask their fans recently on V kontakte about the connection between the ensemble's music and Russian life. What exactly do their fans do when listening to the band? How do these gentle, drifting melodies connect to the activities of their listeners? Offered a long list of chores, hobbies, and other forms of business, the fans of Triangle Sun voted "driving" and "making love" - on different occasions - as the most likely ways to use this music as a soundtrack.

"Work" was noticeably outvoted: the group, in other words, is fostering dreams of escape and/or relaxation, rather than anything connected to diligence.

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People chipped in with a series of comments to explain their votes: "It's really tough working to your melodies..."; "The songs can get me to do just about anything, except eat.... it's like looking at an icon and trying to stuff your face at the same time! I try eating, but the food just gets stuck in my throat, especially since a lot of your music makes me want to cry. Have you ever tried sobbing and eating, eh? I can drink, though... :-) but even then there's a risk of choking and suffocating!"

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Another contributor, less inclined to weepiness, chipped in with an alternative opinion: "These songs would be perfect as lounge music for a bar, but not for some fast food place with everybody around gobbling." And indeed one can high-end imagine restaurant managers using this music to create an atmosphere of quiet elegance, especially since Triangle Sun have no qualms about referring to themselves as a lounge outfit. To boot, many of their PR photos - as below - show them playing on low stages in small surroundings that are clearly part and parcel of a dining establishment or casino.

These songs would be perfect as lounge music for a bar, but not for some fast food place with everybody around gobbling.

Which brings us to a recent development in the news that may be of some relevance.

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This week, the Russian government finished closing down all of the nation's casinos in what's being touted as an anti-vice operation. Anybody who wishes to reestablish their livelihood will have to do so in one of four designated zones, none of which are anywhere near Moscow. One of them, in fact, is 4,000 miles from Red Square.

This means, of course, that everybody who worked in the casino industry or related fields, such as catering, has suddenly been left without a job. Some estimates put this figure as high as 300,000 people. Political observers wonder whether there may be unpleasant repercussions for the government, given that the last two administrations have operated according to social principles that would allegedly counter the cruelty of capitalist enterprise. And, of course, many of the gambling world's angry members are well acquainted with effective forms of criminal revenge...

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The casino owners initially tried explaining to the Kremlin what benefits they offer society through enormous tax revenues, but nobody in high places was willing to listen. Consequently, every last casino and slot-machine parlor was forced to close its doors. Business has been forcibly relocated to the Far Eastern coast, the Baltic Sea and two equally inaccessible places in between: the Altai region of Siberia and the southern Azov Sea. In a word, the four corners of the biggest country in the world.

As far as humanly possible from temptation.

Rumors have it that poker is not covered by the current ruling, so some casinos may try that avenue of modest redevelopment. Most emptied spaces thus far are, however, already becoming offices and - in some cases - new restaurants without roulette wheels or blackjack tables. So what does this mean for bands such as Triangle Sun, who clearly need these kind of venues? We know that the credit crunch has decimated the market for so-called "corporation" gigs, where wealthy businessmen  pay well-known musicians to  entertain them and their clients in small venues for a pretty penny.

The choice, therefore, would appear to be between Vegas-style residencies in these new and empty areas of development, or a warm, yet penniless existence on a Spanish beach.

It's a difficult choice - so grab hold of that lounge furniture before somebody puts it on a train bound for Siberia...

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Audio

Triangle Sun – Dry My Tears
Triangle Sun – Secret Letter
Triangle Sun – Sunny Side
Triangle Sun – You'll Never Give Up

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