domenica 28 luglio 2013

TSYGANYATA I YA S ILYICHA - "GAUBITSY LEITENANTA GURUBY" (1989)

Original title: Гаубицы лейтенанта Гурубы
Band: Цыганята и я с Ильича

Yegor Letov is best known as the leader of Grazhdanskaya Oborona, but in the course of time he was involved in some exciting side projects. He formed Tsyganyata i Ya s Ilyicha in 1989, along with his multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Ryabinov and frontman Oleg Sudakov (also known as Manager).
Interestingly, Letov was not the main singer. Even though he produced the album, played a lot of instruments and sung various background lines, Manager was the lead vocalist and lyrics writer.

With this album Manager wanted to create a new way to write songs. In fact, some tracks are nearly a-cappella numbers, where he screams with unexpected changes of intensity. On the other hand, songs with instrumental backgrounds are more resemblant of Grazhdanskaya Oborona (the aggressive lo-fi ska of "Na blazhennom ostrove kommunizma", the noisy "Opozdavshaya molodyozh'" with its galloping bassline, the punk assault of "Gusar i Verka Zozulya", the whirling "Russkie", built on a Prokofiev theme - the same used by Sting in "Russians").
The most praised moment of the album is "Pesnya gvozdya", where you can hear a few percussive sounds and Manager pretending to be a piece of wood while nails penetrate it. It is one of the most disturbing pieces of music you will ever listen to.


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mercoledì 17 luglio 2013

TILT - "TILT" (1988) + singles & bonus tracks

Tomasz Lipiński is a legend of Polish rock music. In the early Eighties he caused a strong change of direction on Brygada Kryzys, helping them to produce one of the most eclectic albums of the Nowa Fala movement. After their dissolution, he came back to his earlier project, Tilt, starting a successful career. 

In fact, this first album is another milestone. You can consider it a Polish answer to Style Council, and believe me if I say that maybe Style Council never released such a solid album. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Paul Weller fan, I'm just trying to praise this record as it deserves. 

The tracklist is equally divided between uptempo songs ("Jest tylko to", "Zawsze wszędzie teraz"), sophisticated ballads ("Rzeka miłości...", "Gdyby wszystkie słowa"), and mixes of both (the most popular song, no. 1 hit "Mówię ci że...", is at the same time velvety and energetic).
Arrangements are rich and fascinating, involving jangly guitars, dominant basslines, tons of saxophone, soulful background vocals, and some smooth keyboards here and there.

N.B. I've added six tracks on a separate folder. "Runął już ostatni mur", "O jaki dziwny dziwny dziwny", and "Każdy się boi swojej paranoi" were released as part of the same single in 1985. "Tak jak ja kocham cię" was aired by Trójka Radio in 1988 and then released on the 1991 CD reissue of "Tilt". "Szare koszmary" was also released on that edition of the album, but I don't know when it was recorded, nor aired the first time (I just know that Tilt first played it live in 1983). "It's all over for you" is a 1979 demo, released on the 2000 CD reissue.


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giovedì 11 luglio 2013

BOA - "BOA" (1982)

Boa was a pop quartet from Zagreb, formed by Mladen Puljiz (keyboards & vocals), Slavko Remenarić (guitars), Igor Šoštarić (drums), and Damir Košpić (bass guitar).

There is not much information about the early years of their career. It is hard to understand if they were popular at the time. In fact, this debut album shows a hi-tech, expensive production (with lots of electronic layerings, funky basslines, effected guitars, and refined sounds), but today just a small circle of fans seems to remember the band.
It is a pity, because this is such a well played, intense new wave record, which on one side reminds of Trevor Horn's pyrotechnical works, and on the other it predates Camel's "Stationary Traveller", with its obscure, Cold War atmosphere (even the artwork is similar!)

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giovedì 4 luglio 2013

KINO - "KINO [aka CHORNYY AL'BOM]" (1990)

On August 15, 1990 Viktor Tsoi died in a car accident near Riga, while returning from a fishing day. His death was a shock for the entire Soviet Union, leaving his many fans in despair, but projecting his name into immortality. Today Tsoi is still regarded as a music icon and symbol of freedom.

"Kino", also known as "Chornyy al'bom" (transl. "Black album") because of the cover, was released in December 1990. It consists in eight songs, recorded by Tsoi's bandmates Yuri Kasparian, Georgy Guryanov, and Igor Tikhomirov after the tragedy. They used his guitar & voice demos, completing them with new instrumental background tracks. After the release, Kino officially disbanded.

As always, the album was a blockbuster and every song on it became popular, especially "Leto" and "Kukushka". Kasparian's ability on electric guitar shines throughout the entire record, with his mix of rock energy and arcane, seductive folk influences. Tsoi's voice is deep and touching, it's so sad to think what an amazing songwriter and character he was, and how an adverse fate cut off his career.

In my opinion, the strongest tracks are those where folk roots are more evident, such as "Zvezda" or "Leto", but the album offers a bit of everything, including atmospheric breaks such as "Kukushka" and dance-pop songs such as "Krasno zheltye dni" and "Muraveynik" (which strongly reminds of New Order).

A little curiosity: on the first vynil edition, all songs were untitled. Official titles came out only four years later, when the album was reissued on CD and cassette.

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