Label

The northern band known as Lava Lite tend to introduce themselves in straightforward, even arid terms: "We are a shoegaze/dreampop outfit, formed four years ago in Saint Petersburg, Russia." Given that business-like statement, it comes as no surprise to see a simple team-sheet follow quickly afterwards. Facts and figures predominate. The band members are Sergey Timoshenko (guitar/vocals); Nikita Tarakanov (guitar/keyboards); Paul Kostyaev (bass); and Eugene Kulikov (drums/percussion). Against this backdrop of no-nonsense prose, it falls to webzines and enthused amateur portals to create an air of romance around Lava Lite's shoegaze aesthetic. One such publication, Novaya Zemlya, recently celebrated the band's trademark sound with an especially florid turn of phrase. "You'll discover a wall of sound and melodies that disperse like water upon glass. The vocals take wing and depart for some beautiful, distant goal. There are driving rhythms on display - and a tendency to emphasize atmosphere over traditional song structures."
Kobra are a young and promising trio from Saint Petersburg: Pavel Doronin (long known to us as Scaly Whale), Denis Korobeinikov, and vocalist Anna Lichko. Prior to any discussion of the band, however, we should consider a specific location in Kobra's current hometown: the cafe or bar where the musicians first met. Called Stirka (The Laundromat), this entertainment venue, gallery space, and small cafe was launched by a graduate of the Zurich School of Art and Design in 2004. In a word, visitors from the outset have been able to meet here, enjoy a coffee, hear new music... and do their laundry. In fact, the cost of washing one's clothes includes both a pot of tea and wifi access. Kobra's first three songs are designed to reflect the same genial, eclectic atmosphere of the cafe in which they first crossed paths.
The band Supervitesse from Saint Petersburg first came to our attention on a Siberian compilation album entitled "Echotourizm, Volume Three." At the time, all contextual or biographical materials constituted no more than a couple of sentences. The first informed us of the ensemble's location and the fact they play "psychedelic pop." The second - with semi-serious bravado - declared that: "Supervitesse walks hard."
We have often written with both fondness and affection for the Ukrainian minimalist duo known as Art Electronix, based in the city of Kryvyi Rih. One enduring emphasis in those prior discussions has been a connection between A.E.'s music and its birthplace. Kryvyi Rih sits deep within an industrial region, which is increasingly challenged by modernity's transition from heavy to digital enterprise. A polluted address continues to huff and puff, producing large amounts of acrid smoke as if physically laboring under its own weight.
This instrumental project, operating closer to post-rock than to post-industrial techno, is grounded in the fraternal duo of Nikita and Nikolai Samarin. The band's moniker is a playful reference to sibling tensions of their childhood. As the years passed and boyhood slipped away, so the lineup of IWKC would grow. The current team-sheet also includes Andrew Silin (keyboards); Artem Litvakovskiy (cello); Alex Ivanov (bass); Ksenia Pluzhnikova (violin); Anastasiya Narochnaya; Karthick Iyer (both violin, viola); Denis Smirnov (french horn); Konstantin Podgorbunsky (tuba, trombone); Egor Gerasimchuk (trumpet); and Boris Medved (keyboards plus "intellectual" input). Currently these musicians, all resident in the Russian capital, speak collectively of their desire to compose "instrumental, playful and melodic" works under the combined influences of neoclassical authors, "art-rock, neo-psychedelia, and various post-rock trajectories."
The work of Belarus' folktronica ensemble Shuma (Šuma) is currently defined with an intriguing turn of phrase: "digital archaica." Regional or national folk traditions are sought, saved, and vivified with modern technology. The musicians' preference is for folk material that was once - purportedly - used in "pagan rituals." The past offers a greater sense of civic discipline than the present. The band's current lineup is rather lengthy: Rusia and Nadzeja Chuhunova take responsibility for vocals. They are joined and supported by musicians and sound producers Alexis Scorpio and Nick Cherny. Behind them stand Alexey Budzko (bass) and Pavel Gorbach (drums). The last of those colleagues is already well known to us from his solo work.
The Moscow band called Motherfathers have long been associated with the capital's noise and experimental rock scenes. Now, however, they are publishing a drone EP designed overtly as sonic therapy. To general surprise, the musicians suggest parallels with Coil, Chris Rea, classic techno - and the soundtrack to "Miami Vice."
TosyaChai is the stage-name of Tosilya Chaikina from Saint Petersburg. Until recently she performed as one half of local duo More Oblakov. The ensemble's remaining fifty percent was consistently represented by colleague Andrei Martynov. Chaikina's new solo recordings - entitled "Dreams" - appear against the backdrop of multiple lyric poems, both written and uploaded by the artist herself. She prefers to use those small and versified self-statements instead of anything more factual or prosaic. One of the newest Chaikina poems has stressed the appeal of fantasy and dreamlike states over ostensible reality: "Somewhere in the room, your aroma passes by. It seems there's still some wine left. I'd like to sleep a few more years in the forest - and never wake up, living in dreams."
Not long ago, some intriguing discussions were conducted in the Russian press about what's needed to launch a modern Russian record label - and who might undertake such a thankless task. Some of the examples and stories therein related to Moscow's Kota Records - founded by Brinstaar. In essence this project arose from a dissatisfaction with the status quo. "Everybody hates it when a sales person in a music store refuses to answer your questions, overcharges you, or is just plain rude. In the music industry that kind of thing happens all the time. People will refuse a demo tape, for example, or they'll not answer you letters. Some folks refuse to do anything at all! Everybody in the industry considers themselves to be so important: they only think about themselves."
When we first encountered the garage outfit called Jack Wood, they were unwilling to name their hometown, but nonetheless appeared to live somewhere close to Tomsk, Eastern Siberia. There were certainly connections to the Tomsk outfit te Disband, about whom we've written before. Drawing overtly upon the "lo-fi blues traditions of the '60s," the band made the somewhat daring suggestion that God(!) had already assessed their music as "orgasmic" in tone. Equally unlikely was the claim that these songs are enjoying high rotation in the music stores of Bristol. What seemed at first glance to be mere epatage actually began to show signs of the yearning for social membership. Jack Wood, clearly influenced by the White Stripes, linked their page at Vkontakte to a couple of private profiles - presumably those of the group members. With nothing more than one promotional image, the absence of textual information made establishing concrete identities very difficult. A flight from speech was made in favor of vaguer processes. Although those linked, often gothic pages were full of monochrome misery - and worrying assertions that "the dead have no emotions" - there were still clear signs that even this lo-fi, confrontational sound is designed to offer consolation and therefore (eventually...) contentment.
Our new recording from Dadaisme sports a weighty philosophical concept. Entitled "Dasein Mosaic," it is inspired by Heidegger's notion of "Dasein." Put simply, "Mosaic" is directly informed by a view of existence or being that's split between two states: selfhood and society. Existence is informed both by solitude and interaction, yet neither is fully realized. One never becomes wholly isolated, nor entirely part of the objective world. Instead there's a shuttling back and forth between the two: between "myself" and "them." Between here and there. For that reason, perhaps, Dadaisme (Valera Shevchenko) has spoken of his "Dasein Mosaic" as a "huge experiment with cyclical loops." In fact even his stage-name of Dadaisme comes from a similarly liminal state, somewhere beyond anything local and/or logical. Metaphors of departure and return predominate, emphasizing cyclical, often bizarre processes over any kind of stasis.
A few weeks ago in May, the Siberian city of Omsk hosted a festival of street art entitled "Spaces of Multiplicity" (Пространства множественности). Organizers promised that: "The entire city will become an open-air gallery. Art exhibitions, interactive installations, and performances will be on show, together with street theater and concerts. Our aim is to build an open domain for artists to communicate - not only among themselves, but also with all of Omsk, its myths, and geography. Public art is always designed for social spaces: it's directed towards an unsuspecting audience and therefore implies a direct form of communication with its overall urban setting." The academics and outside performers invited to curate the festival made clear their desire to avoid "both thematic and/or technical limitations. Nonetheless, we are interested in the importance of temporary works. We'll place an emphasis on permanent works of art in next year's event." In both cases, hope endures that these outdoor projects, be they fleeting or final, could "transform" a local environment. One of the musicians and sound artists involved was Omsk resident Anton Gudkov, often known to online audiences as Booby Mason. Here we offer his performance as 沖縄頭払機 (Okinawa Head Cutters), together with colleague Anton Orlov.
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