Last Month’s Best New Russian Music

May passed us by along with Moscow’s music festival, Bosco Fresh Fest. Except for headliners Kindness and Rudimental, the organizers managed to pull together practically all the flavors from the contemporary Russian indie scene. And it has proven difficult to separate oneself from the feeling that, without the headliners, the festival would have lacked quality.

Perhaps the most unexpected album of the month is the debut LP from the trio Sea Radio. Out of nowhere, they presented us a copy that will undoubtedly make the cut in all the lists of this year’s best albums. Their music is made with tact and deliberation. It certainly doesn’t have the desire to turn itself inside out – a sin committed by many young musicians in a landscape of rapidly increasing competition.

Sea Radio is in no hurry however, and they are confident in their strengths. Their sorrow is poignant. A light melancholy with nordic freshness, which, around here has always been in high demand. Experts are scrambling to mention Sea Radio as loyal supporters of the new R&B and digital soul, which isn’t exactly right – there is no lovemaking or heavy breathing on Sad Songs United. Here, it’s more like Future Islands, Wild Beasts, or even Mew – just without the nervous guitar breakdowns.

Remarkably, Sea Radio did most of the work on the album remotely, and only for the final recording did they get together at the ever stylish Xuman Records, where their material was given the sought-after luster treatment by Korney.

Moscow’s young group Cricket Captains has a similar story. Their record Cyclone Party is dedicated to the practice of getting sloshed with buddies in anticipation of natural cataclysms. It came out a few weeks after Sea Radio’s release. Their album was also recorded at Xuman Records under the active support of Korney, the sound producer. Complex, multi-layered arrangements are the strongest aspect of this project. But really, the arrangements are not the only thing.

Cricket Captains sound is inventive, reckless, dancey, and fresh. We’ll grow tired counting all the possible analogies…that’s sometimes how it is with music that hits the nail on the head. In short, Cyclone Party is a record to be found at the intersection of British rock, funk (nice bass), and that, which would be appropriately called indie-dance. But it’s not the same breed as The Rapture and DFA, but closer to, once again, the British Foals or Hard-Fi (if you remember that wonderful band). In a word, it’s a party, not an album.

We’ve got more cricket lovers here. The long awaited conceptual album Kellion by the renowned and gifted musician of the Russian abstract scene, Long Arm. Following tradition, the LP is released by German label Project: Mooncircle, who are well known for their distinct love towards artists hailing from Eastern Europe. Previously, you could find the Moscow ambient artist Jan Amit and Ukrainian beatmaker IIIII (Five Eyes). The release will be available in the form of vinyls, CDs, and audiocassettes.

Kellion is expectedly wonderful. The album is eclectic, exciting, multidimensional. The signature wind and string passages of Long Arm are once again present. His weaving, sophisticated rhythm section has become even more yummy and complex. Meanwhile, the melody is piercing.

The idea behind the album is an image of an unknown little boy on the cover. The child learns about the world, collects his very first, incomparable experiences, and perceives the reality around his through his own eyes. His universe is filled with mystical creatures, all of it unbelievable and fantastic. It’s like an enchanting fairy tale that brims with mystery and magical transformations.

Long Arm has put forth a story – an elegant construction, through which his music comes to life and takes on an entirely new sound for anyone who is willing to exercise their imagination and spend an hour on an unforgettable journey into childhood.

These are new names in our reviews. Endue are a young anonymous project who have released their first album Light Blue through the small label, RDS Records. Nominallly, this is trip-hop, which even the artists themselves agree with. But for a better understanding, you could say this trip-hop is at a crossroads with chill pop. In other words, they are closer to the Belgian Hooverphonic (but without the orchestra chic) or the early albums of the duet Lamb. The oppressive tragedy that is common to Portishead or Spylab is nowhere to be found here. The album opens with the single Caramel, which sounds just like its name. It’s delicate music behind whose lightness is an outstanding potential for hits. And to be Endue at the center of attention would be to have released this album 15 years earlier.

May 5th saw the release of a two-track single by Half Dub Theory, the distinguished collective from St. Petersburg, whose musical pedigree is closely intertwined with the story of Auroraw, a group that is getting quite popular, complicated as this all may sound. And if Maksim Kubbe & Co. are getting closer and closer to the charts and radio rotations, then Half Dub Theory, in which Igor Belenko and Pasha Vovk (drummer and bass guitarist from Auroraw, respectively) played in for a long time, is doing the opposite, and shrinking further away into deep meditation territory.

The track which was chosen by us, Secretly, is undoubtedly dub-techno with atmospheric pads and a brisk garage beat. Add in a dimensional pulsation – and you’ll get the Smile and Receive duet, Swayzak. Obviously, in this style it’s difficult to leave the settled framework sound-wise, but also to achieve a certain atomsphere – it’s not an easy task. But Half Dub Theory does it well. Burgeoning DJs should take note – there is excellent material ripe for a remix.

We almost missed the fascinating young producer Anton Guskov, who works under the pseudonym MultiColor. As is common for any respectable electronic musician, Anton isn’t all too concerned with promoting his work. The music he creates shouldn’t be, and never is superficial – it serves as a reward for long searches. We had to find the experimental label Tympanik Audio in Chicago, which is where MultiColor released his first album From the Outside.

The album is enigmatic, monumental, intriguing. There is a lot happening, it doesn’t spin circles around a structured rhythm, but is ever-changing and mutating, which is something of a rarity in techno, in  ambient…in anything really. You could partly explain the richness of ideas looking into the list of Anton’s idols. There are some obvious ones such as Bonobo, Booka Shade, and Apparat. You’ll also find Japanese electonica genius Ametsub (just listen to his Snowy Lava) and psytrance pioneer Simon Posford, who is behind Shpongle, as well as Ott, only known to dedicated followers of psychill and IDM.

Let’s dive all the way to the bottom so we can return to our familiar reality. Moving past abstract hip-hop and trip-hop, and beyond dub-techno and ambient, there is a temptation to search out the dark depths of free jazz and drone. We are dealing with the Sverdlovski label Østpreussen, which deals with extreme experimental genres, where the simplest form would be a depressing synth hum, but you could even find certain kinds of field recordings, and, guys, the inspired . Gourmands will find a respectable and varied catalog of black and white exotica.

The label’s newest release – a four track EP from anonymous project (otherwise, it wouldn’t exist) Eondarto, whose music reminds uninitiated people of collaborations between Swiss trumpet player Erik Truffaz and Mexican electronic musician Murcof. Or the early recordings of his Norwegian colleague, Nils Petter Molvaer (e.g. the bewitching 1997 album Khmer). With time, we’ll probably hear of more accurate comparisons, though we won’t go looking for them. But just for summary’s sake: the trumpet howls and moans, while the melody drowns in a sea of echoes and reverb. It’s important to listen to the complete album. Or don’t listen at all.

Serving the purpose of a contrast shower, we’ll present you the new sensational release from the duet Barto. Old time critics’ favorites, Barto once again perform their famous trick and, as expected, cause a flurry of applause. Clumsy electroclash, animalistic rhythms and melodies which penetrate into your memory from the first moment you hear them. Along with loud philosophical refrains, “Poverty is a form of rape / Poverty is a way of knowing” we hear the commanding banter, “Just ask – and brother will go after brother / Yes, my emperor! Yes, my operator!” It seems that the point of these thought constructions lies on the surface and the meaning can be gathered as soon as it’s heard – but to tear away from Barto’s music proves impossible. Many have tried to sound as strange, defiant, true, and fresh, but only Barto have gotten the chemistry right.

You all know about Hospital. In our eyes, they’re the most solid and real in the “second coming” of Russian indie. They honor the 80s classics while paying enough attention to creating their own authentic sound along with a thin layer of stylization, which is a safe distance away from complete plagiarizing.

Only the lazy will miss The Cure’s influences here. Gary Numan and early Simple Minds. But Hospital is so successful at drawing the listener in, that by the second track off their new album, Uncommon Sense, you’ll be forced to dive deep into the dreamy bliss of detachment, and to leave all doubt behind. Put this record on for your nostalgic parents who will change their minds about today’s mislead youth and their music, which they will still be playing.

We’ve saved dance for last. We propose celebrating the upcoming summer with Danny Kole’s groovy disco. It’s a project from DJ, vocalist, and producer Denis Kolomenski, and he’s already managed to gain the trust of an international audience. Blogs write about him and his music is played by many of our colleagues. In techno-leaning Moscow, artists like Danny Kole are not so common. But there is no doubt that he will easily find his audience. In June, following his Sparks single download, he promises a new release which we’ve already heard and fallen in love with. But you’ll get to see it a bit later. Our suitcase of unreleased promo tracks is steadily growing, which means that by the end of June, we’ll have to figure something out or expand our playlist to 20 – 30 songs.

Original article can be found at http://mtrpl.ru/russian-music-may

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