sabato 29 giugno 2013

KINO - "ZVEZDA PO IMENI SOLNTSE" (1989)

Kino's last release before Viktor Tsoi's death. It was another success (the title-track, "Pachka sigaret", and "Stuk" all were big hits), confirming the band as a polar star in the local counterculture. 

The tracklist is impressive for its solidity and diversity. 
Guitar player Yuri Kasparian shows his gusto for epicness in the opener "Pesnya bez slov", the title-track is a funky mid tempo number in the wake of "Gruppa krovi", "Mesto dlya shaga vpered" displays the dance side of the quartet, "Pachka sigaret" and "Aprel'" are stunning folk ballads with depressive lyrics and majestic vocal arrangements, while on the new wave anthem "Stuk" you can hear some harsh, distorted guitars. 
Every drum sound was programmed by Georgy Guryanov on his Yamaha RX-5 machine.

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martedì 25 giugno 2013

GRAZHDANSKAYA OBORONA - "RUSSKOE POLE EKSPERIMENTOV" (1989)

Original title: Русское поле экспериментов
Band: Гражданская оборона

At the beginning of 1989, when the repressive power of the Communist regime was slowly fading away, Yegor Letov was able to organize a new line-up for his most important project, including Igor Zhevtun (guitar), Arkadiy Klimkin (drums), and Konstantin Ryabinov (bass, guitar, wind instruments). 

If this is Grazhdanskya Oborona's most celebrated record, it's mainly because of its title track. Those fourteen minutes represent a real shock, with their assault of abrasive guitars and desperate vocals. Letov's lyrics use the image of Russian fields of experiments to portray the tragic condition of the human race. This song cannot be really described, but only experienced.

The rest of the album consists of nine short tracks which mixes post-punk bass lines, hardcore fury, and a noisy, low fi approach. Western indie bands such as Dinosaur Jr or Pixies sound like tender puppies when compared to these songs.

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martedì 18 giugno 2013

ŁAGODNA PIANKA - "NAJMNIEJSZE PRZEBOJE" (2013)

There's not much I can say about this indie-pop quartet, as there are just a few informations on the net. According to the biography, they are from Sędziszów Małopolski, near the Carpathian mountains, they are produced by The Car Is On Fire member Jacek Szabrański, and they received support from both Polish rock stars (Strachy na Lachy) and underground musicians (Ścianka). 
They are not popular yet, but I hope they will be, because they deserve more than just a few thousands visits on Youtube.
Anyway, the most important thing you have to know is that this debut album contains some nice songs with funky guitars, fat bass lines, and imaginative keyboard landscapes.


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domenica 16 giugno 2013

GRAZHDANSKAYA OBORONA - "MYSHELOVKA" (1987)

Original title: Мышеловка
Original band name: Гражданская оборона

Yegor Letov, who died in 2008 from a heart attack, was one of the key figures of Russian alternative music. In the late 90s his cult was so big that he could have been considered a mainstream outsider (or an underground star, if you prefer). Concerts with his main band, Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defence), attracted thousands every night.

Born and raised in Omsk, Siberia, Letov started a project called Posev in 1982, when he was only 17. He was the singer and guitarist, while his friend Konstantin Ryabinov played bass guitar. After two years they changed name in Grazhdanskaya Oborona. In 1985 two home-made tapes, titled "Optimizm" and "Poganaya molodezh'", were released in the illegal underground market, with their mix of noise rock, post-punk, and anarchic lyrics.
The approach was different from the pop-rock school of Saint Petersburg, which preferred metaphorical lyrics about freedom. Letov was direct and brutal, as he didn't like compromises. 
Unfortunately, the authorities feared his critical mood against the Soviet system, and at the end of 1985 he was forced for four months into a psychiatric hospital, while Ryabinov was conscripted in the military service.

After his release, Letov realized that he was alone. Without Ryabinov, he couldn't find anyone brave enough to play with him. From this moment to the beginning of 1989 Grazhdanskaya Oborona was basically a one-man band.
Recorded in the harshest moment of solitude, when only the punk band Pik i Klakson gave Letov some support by providing good instruments, "Myshelovka" is regarded today as a classic. A deranged abrasiveness flows through every fragment of the tracklist. The guitar sound is sandpaper, Yegor's voice is as raw as asphalt, but despite the low fidelity the result is majestic. 

Letov had a natural gift in taking advantage of Russian language malleability, thus giving musicality even to his craziest stuff. You simply can't resist this heroic, controversial, angry man and his tempestous sing-along slivers, ranted with an unusual sense of melody.

P.S. Letov was one of the most prolific musicians that I know. As Grazhdanskaya Oborona he released fifteen albums between 1987 and 1990, while at the same time he was making music under four other names (Armiya Vlasova, Yegor i Opizdenevshie, Kommunizm, Tsyganyata i Ya s Ilyicha). For this reason I will post only his most celebrated albums.


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mercoledì 12 giugno 2013

KOBRANOCKA - "SZTUKA JEST SKARPETKĄ KULAWEGO" (1987)

Lead by bassist Jacek Bryndal and singer/guitar player Andrzej Kraiński, Kobranocka was one of the most popular Polish bands from the late 80s to the early 90s. After that golden moment they were not able to mantain a mainstream status, even though everybody remembers their old hits, and their concerts are still successful.

This debut album was released in 1987 on cassette, and then reissued in 1988 on vynil, with the addition of the single that made them famous, "I nikomu nie wolno się z tego śmiać". The song is a powerful cover of a German punk anthem, "Armee der Verlierer" by Die Toten Hosen, and in my humble opinion it outlasts the original. 

Other great tracks are "Nie obgryzaj paznokci", "List z pola boju", "Ballada dla samobójców", "Trzymaj ręce przy Irence", and "Wiem nie wrócisz", with their mix of post-punk, melodic hardcore, early rock&roll nostalgia, Spectorian arrangements, and walls of wind instruments (played for this album only by Waldemar Zaborowski).


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sabato 8 giugno 2013

KULT - "OSTATECZNY KRACH SYSTEMU KORPORACJI" (1998)

"Ostateczny krach systemu korporacji" is widely considered the last of the four classic albums released by Kult (the others being "Posłuchaj to do Ciebie", "Spokojnie", and "Tata Kazika"). Their tenth studio effort, it contains sixteen songs and runs for 75 minutes. 

Nearly every style of the Nineties is explored by this encyclopaedia of sounds. 
"Goopya peezda" is a disturbing hybrid of industrial rock and jungle music; "Grzesznik" is a crazy folk-rock tune with hip hop beats, electric organ and brass instruments; "Z archiwum polskiego jazzu" is an acid jazz track with a reckless double bass line; "Poznaj swój raj" is an hardcore punk assault; "Dziewczyna bez zęba na przedzie" mixes an alt-rock verse with a nu metal refrain; "Komu bije dzwon" is an epic folk ballad, one of most touching songs Kazik has ever written. There are some refined ska-pop numbers also, such as the hit singles "Lewy czerwcowy" (most of the people know it as "Panie Waldku") and "Gdy nie ma dzieci".

There are not updated sale figures for this album, but we know it was a success, having sold over 100.000 copies in its first six months of release.

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sabato 1 giugno 2013

LAIBACH - "WAT" (2003)

"Wat" marked Laibach's return to original compositions after a hiatus of seven years. 
It is a surprisingly solid and creative album, with the band at the height of its instrumental power. It contains a sequence of devastating Electronic Body Music tracks, with danceable techno beats, bombastic choirs, and sharp synthesizer progressions. 
The anthem "Tanz mit Laibach" is probably their most successful attempt on this front (I consider it at the same level of D.A.F.'s "Der Mussolini").

Anyway, "B Mashina" and "Anti-Semitism", the opening and the closing track respectively, are different from the rest. The first is a radical re-working of a song originally performed by Slovenian band Siddharta (it's amazing how Laibach converted a bland rock song into a science-fiction industrial masterpiece), the second is a martial tragedy with orchestral arrangements, which once again shows the horror of which humans are capable ("Down the road they go, Down the road they go, Against us they go, Against you they go, With crosses on the foreheads, With fire in the eyes, With crosses on the foreheads, With a star in their hearts").

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