domenica 7 dicembre 2014

TOMAŽ PENGOV - "ODPOTOVANJA" (1973)

I hate not being able to say anything of interest about the albums I am presenting on the blog. Unfortunately, everything I was able to find about this artist is written in Slovene. The little I know is that this album was recorded domestically by singer songwriter Tomaž Pengov ‎(1949-2014) when he was a student and then released on vynil with the help of his university.

It wasn't a successful record but it became a cult classic over the years (even Branimir Štulić from Azra praised it). I'm posting it because I love Pengov's delicate voice and peaceful acoustic guitar style, but I know that I am probably missing out an important part of these songs, as I don't understand a word of their lyrics.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

giovedì 27 novembre 2014

HAPPYSAD - "JAKBY NIE BYŁO JUTRA" (2014)

With 700.000 fans on Facebook and three no. 1 albums as of 2014, Happysad are one of the most popular bands in Poland, and one of my favourites as well. In the Noughties they released four albums that demonstrated their huge melodic talent, notwithstanding a quite mediocre indie-rock sound.

Anyway, in 2012 "Ciepło / Zimno" showed a strong evolution, as it incorporated emo-rock influences, electronic sounds, and experimental noises. "Jakby nie było Jutra" is their new studio effort and it keeps its promises, adding some space rock tendencies, to give their formula a new level of epicness.

"Smutnie ludzie" is probably their best single ever, but every note on the album is well organized (i.e. the brasses on "Są momenty takie" and the folktronic arrangement of "Ciała detale").


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)


domenica 23 novembre 2014

BIELIZNA - "TANIEC LEKKICH GORYLI" (1989)

Bielizna are a post-punk band led by singer Jarosław Janiszewski. They were founded in Gdańsk in the mid Eighties and this is their debut album. Even though it wasn't a huge seller at the time, it still managed to place three songs on the Trójka top 20. 
Today it is considered a cult classic and one of the first Polish examples of what English-speaking countries call indie-pop. 

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

domenica 16 novembre 2014

PIĘTNASTKA - "DALIA" (2011)

Piotr Kurek is an electronic musician from Warsaw. He has made some experimental albums where he mixes folk music and 8-bit sounds, videogame atmospheres and geometric melodies. This is his sole work released under the moniker Piętnastka (transl. Fifteen) and it probably represents his best effort.
I usually don't like instrumental albums, at least the recent ones, but this is really catchy and well constructed.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

venerdì 31 ottobre 2014

ODDZIAŁ ZAMKNIĘTY - "REDA BY NIGHT" (1985)

"Reda by Night" is the second album released by Oddział Zamknięty. It contains some wonderful songs ("Horror", "Pokusy""To tylko pech") and the formula is more peculiar than ever, mixing glam and blues, new wave and punk, hard rock and acoustic guitars.

It sold 60.000 copies at the time, marking a strong decline of popularity, if you consider that their debut was the Polish best seller of 1984. The subsequent crisis period lasted many years and the band was never able to regain its magic moment. 

P.S. I've added "Oddział" as a bonus track. It is a cover of Tom Robinson's hit "2-4-6-8 Motorway". Originally recorded in 1984, it made its first appearance on the movie "Miłość z listy przebojów", released one year later.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 224)

martedì 28 ottobre 2014

PROMYSHLENNAYA ARKHITEKTURA - "LYUBOV' I TEKHNOLOGIYA" (1988)

Original title: Любовь и технология
Band: Промышленная архитектура

Promyshlennaya Arkhitektura was the music project of Dmitry Selivanov, one of the cult figures of the Siberian underground scene. 
Selivanov was a charismatic singer and a self-taught guitar player. His style was technically raw but highly creative, a mix of power chords and radical improvisation.

Apart from some collaborations with Yegor Letov, this is Selivanov's sole album, as he committed suicide one year after it was released. Sharp post-punk sounds, low fidelity production, toy keyboards, and a bunch of grotesque lyrics sung in the most theatrical way possible. That's all these nine songs needed.

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mercoledì 22 ottobre 2014

APRELSKIY MARSH - "MUZYKA DLYA DETEY I INVALIDOV" (1987)


Original title: Музыка для детей и инвалидов
Band: Апрельский марш

Aprelskiy Marsh were one of the many cult bands from the Yekaterinburg rock scene. The project gravitated around two members, keyboard player Igor Grishenkov and poet Yevgeny Kormiltsev.

They tried to record a first album in 1986, but the sound quality was so poor that they didn't have the courage to release it at the time. On the contrary, they were lucky enough to gain access to a professional television studio in 1987, where this second studio effort was produced, with satisfying results. 

Distributed by the band itself at their gigs, the album was a new wave gem, with synthesized sounds, post-punk rhythms, effected guitars, and some striking, threatrical vocal performances by Mikhail Simakov, Natalya Romanova, and Grishenkov himself. The lyrics are strong collages which involve sex, politics, social commentary, and poetry. 

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 256)

giovedì 16 ottobre 2014

MUMIY TROLL - "MORSKAYA" (1997)

Original band name: Мумий Тролль
Original album title: Морская

"Morskaya" was not only the best selling Russian rock album of 1997, with over one million copies in seven months, but also one of the most critically acclaimed local albums .

Composed by singer Ilya Lagutenko and arranged by multi-instrumentalist Albert Krasnov, these ten songs represent a great answer to the contemporary brit-pop scene. While you can certainly hear the influence of bands such as Blur and Supergrass, the band doesn't hide the Russian background, generating tunes that will stuck in your head after a few listens.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

martedì 30 settembre 2014

ZABRANJENO PUŠENJE - "DOK ČEKAŠ SABAH SA ŠEJTANOM" (1985)

Zabranjeno pušenje's second album is one of the many two-LP sets that characterized Yugoslav rock in the first half of the 80s. 
It lasts nearly an hour and contains eighteen songs, ranging from punk to blues, from new wave to country, from pub rock to power pop. 
Most of the tracks are graced by catchy tunes and creative arrangements, incorporating crazy background vocals and powerful bass lines, but also touches of sax and keyboards. 

Unfortunately, "Dok čekaš..." sold less than 30.000 copies at the time, as the authority decided to boycott the band for a pun about Marshal Tito expressed during a concert. 

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

mercoledì 24 settembre 2014

IZABELA TROJANOWSKA - "IZA" (1981)

Izabela Trojanowska had three hits in Poland between 1980 and 1981: "Tyle samo prawd ile kłamstw", "Wszystko czego dziś chcę", and "Jestem twoim grzechem". The combined sales of these singles exceeded the 380.000 copies mark.

Her debut album collects them all, but for some reason only 50.000 copies were printed at the time. It was a dumb decision by the state label Tonpress, as it could have sold at least ten times more. If you are Polish and you know something about this strange story, please leave a comment.

The music is in the same vein of Trojanowska's second album, which I already posted some months ago, so you know what to expect: post-punk, synth-pop, exotic melodies, and some catchy guitar riffs. Anyway, "Iza" is even more eclectic than "Układy", as it was entirely composed by Romuald Lipko and played by his legendary band Budka Suflera.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

giovedì 18 settembre 2014

ZVUKI MU - "PROSTYE VESHCHI" (1988)

Original band name: Звуки Му
Original album title: Простые вещи

Zvuki Mu was a band from Moscow, founded in 1981 by singer Pyotr Mamonov. For some years it was just a part-time project, as the band didn't have a professional equipment, nor the possibility to record any song. Anyway, in 1988 their friend Vasily Shumov, leader of the experimental post-punk band Tsentr, offered Mamonov the chance to produce an album, which he obviously accepted. Zvuki Mu recorded around twenty songs during these sessions, most of which were written in the course of the 80s. 

"Prostye veshchi" lasts over 79 minutes and was released in the black market as a two-tape set. Reissued on CD in 1996, it is a still enjoyable anthology of new wave pieces with huge bass lines, funky guitars, jazz fusion keyboards, and pompous declamations.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)


venerdì 12 settembre 2014

NIKOLAY KOPERNIK - "RODINA" (1986)

Original band name: Николай Коперник
Original album title: Родина

Despite never being popular, Nikolay Kopernik was one of the most fascinating bands of Russian new wave. 
The line-up of their debut album consists of Yuri Orlov (vocals, guitars), Igor Len
(keyboards), Dmitry Tsvetkov (drum machine), Oleg Andreev (bass guitar), and Igor Andreev (saxophone).
Like many other rock acts of their era, they were not allowed to record in a professional studio, and they had to arrange themselves into a small apartment. Tsvetkov opted for a drum machine when he realized there was not enough space for a real set of drums. 

You can try to imagine a Soviet answer to David Sylvian's Japan, Bill Nelson, early Adam & the Ants, or even Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but obviously the band had enough personality to sound in its own, peculiar way. 
They were excellent and creative instrumentists. Orlov played guitar with a glass thimble, giving it a thin, crystalline sound; Andreev played a fretless bass, filling a lot of spaces with his improvisations; Len added the atmosphere with his electronic layers, often ispired by minimalism and ambient music.
The music was composed by Len, Tsvetkov, and Orlov, while the latter wrote the lyrics, inspired by a book of poems from northern Russia.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 221-311)

lunedì 30 giugno 2014

AUKTYON - "PTIZA" (1993)

Original band name: АукцЫон
Original album title: Птица

Distributed in less than 4.000 copies at the time, today "Ptiza" is probably the definitive cult classic of Russian indie music, and its fame seems to grow year after year.

With "Ptiza" the band completed its transition from post-punk to alternative rock, with jazz fusion and Slavic folk music dominating all around. The production is excellent and every track mixes adventurous tunes and skillful improvisations.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)


mercoledì 25 giugno 2014

YEGOR I OPIZDENEVSHIE - "PRYG-SKOK" (1990)

Original title: Прыг-скок
Band: Егор и Опизденевшие

Yegor i Opizdenevshie (Yegor and the Fuckups) is the last project created by Yegor Letov under the Soviet regime. In fact, the line-up is similar to his other bands of the time, with friends such as Konstantin Ryabinov and Igor Zhevtun, both on guitar, bass, and other instruments. 

If you have ever listened to Grazhdanskaya Oborona, Kommunizm, or Tsyganyata i Ya s Ilyicha, then you know what happens here: psychedelic tunes, folk, noise rock, and a raucous lo-fi production. 


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)


lunedì 23 giugno 2014

AUKTYON - "BODUN" (1991)

Original band name: АукцЫон
Original album title: Бодун

Auktyon is known for having had two phases. A first one in which they played post-punk songs, marked by a striking theatrical approach, and a second one closer to the alternative rock universe, with strong influences from folk and jazz music. 

This album can be considered a bridge between these two faces of the band, containing elements of both. The arrangements are overwhelming: sung and spoken vocals, funky basslines, atmospheric keyboard layers, catchy piano patterns, saxophone assaults, and eleborate guitar parts influenced by Slavic popular tradition.
By looking into their multifaceted structures, you will realize that these songs have a strong pop feeling and some great melodies. If I have to choose, my favourites would be "Fa fa fa" and "Warum?".


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martedì 17 giugno 2014

AUKTYON - "KAK YA STAL PREDATELEM" (1989)

Original band name: АукцЫон
Original album title: Как я стал предателем

Auktyon is an open music project from Saint Petersburg, led by singer and guitar player Leonid Fedorov. Despite never reaching the mainstream audience, they are probably the most celebrated band ever among Russian alternative music listeners and their gigs are still regarded as important events today.

The line-up has changed many times over the years, but there are some stable members who in fact form the creative core of Auktyon, along with Fedorov: saxophonist Nikolay Rubanov, keyboard player Dmitry Ozersky, and singer Oleg Garkusha. The latter is also known for miming and dancing while the band is on stage.

"Kak ya stal predatelem" is their second album, but the first recorded in a professional studio and the first to be officially distributed. It is considered one of the most important Russian rock albums of the Eighties and it contains a collection of experimental pop songs with new wave sounds, nervous funk guitars, melodic saxophone solos, and oblique moments dominated by a hysterical camp vein. 

Finding a Western counterpart to this music can be a challenge even to the most expert listener. Perhaps Talking Heads and the early works of Ambitious Lovers have some points in common, but the truth is that Auktyon are on a league of their own.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

sabato 31 maggio 2014

IZABELA TROJANOWSKA - "UKŁADY" (1982)

Izabela Trojanowska was one of the most popular Polish singers in the early Eighties. This is her second album, which sold over 300.000 copies between 1982 and 1983. Unfortunately, she was forced to leave Poland soon after, when the authorities refused to release her next album because of some harsh anti-establishment lyrics.

The music is a mix of post-punk, synth-pop, and blues rock, with both muscular riffs and gentle embellishments. A new wave feeling dominates the tracklist, with the legendary sound engineer Jacek Mastykarz always finding the right balance between the rock vein and the synthesized sounds. Another big plus is Izabela's voice, which occasionally reminds of Kate Bush.

Her debut album, "Iza" (1981), is also worth of notice. I will post it eventually, even if I'm struggling to find it on CD.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

martedì 27 maggio 2014

MAREK GRECHUTA & ANAWA - "KOROWÓD" (1971)

This is Marek Grechuta's second album, and his last collaboration with the legendary jazz-folk ensemble Anawa, led by piano player Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz.

"Korowód" is universally praised as one of the great masterpieces of Polish music and it's not hard to understand why: where else in the world can you find anything that sound like this?
Indeed, this is an incredibly well-recorded melting pot of poetry, catchy pop melodies, progressive rock structures, baroque orchestrations, dissonant jazz embellishments, and folk music elements. Some songs strongly predate the fusion between rock and ethnic music.

Funny how at the time "Korowód" didn't figure among Poland's ten best selling albums of 1971, given that today it is way more popular than any other album of that year, and the lead single "Dni, których nie znamy" is probably the most famous Polish song of the Seventies. 


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

lunedì 12 maggio 2014

VENTILJACIJA - "ZHENSKIY ALBOM" (2010)

Original title: Женский альбом
Band: Вентиляция

Ventiljacija is a small cult band founded in Saint Petersbourg by singer and guitar player Fedor Norvegov. This is their third album, the best according to their few followers (it is also the only one I was able to find, albeit I will keep searching).

There is not much more information I can give about this band, as they are virtually unknown.
If you are a Russian reader, you can write something about them in the comments section, possibly in English.

The album is amazing nonetheless, a strong mix of post-punk and noise-rock, with a strange psychedelic and melodic vein, probably reminiscent of the legendary Yegor Letov. Despite the raw sound, every song sounds epic and every tune is easy to remember.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

giovedì 1 maggio 2014

ALEKSANDR ZATSEPIN - "TAYNA TRETYEY PLANETY" (DVD audio, bootleg. Recorded in 1981)

Original artist name: Александр Зацепин
Original album title: Тайна третьей планеты

One of the things I’ve noticed the first time I’ve watched "Film, Film, Film", an old Russian cartoon, was its strange soundtrack, which mixed rudimental electronic sounds, jazz, pop, and orchestral arrangements. 
Shortly after I realized its composer Aleksandr Zatsepin, a prolific and appreciated musician who worked for the state-controlled label Melodiya, has written lots of original soundtracks and pop music hits. 

This is the soundtrack from "Tayna Tretyey Planety", a beautiful science fiction cartoon released in 1981. It is a sort of artistic testament for Zatsepin, as he left Russia in 1982, after some misunderstandings with Soviet supervisors. 
Never released as an album, it finally came out as a bootleg some years ago, ripped from the DVD audio track of the cartoon. Unfortunately, some sound effects which weren't part of the music can't be removed, but on the other hand, they kinda fit with Zatsepin's work and don't affect the listening that much. 

This is a wonderful journey through analogic electronic music consisting of Moog solos, Mellotron backgrounds, electric organ and piano patterns, synthesized strings, sequencers, laser noises, and every kind of oddness you can imagine. All to create ethereal, beautiful melodies. 
This is a mix of funk and alien lounge music, the same that became popular again at the end of the Nineties thanks to Air, or even today, thanks to Daft Punk and Todd Terje's latest albums.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

domenica 27 aprile 2014

PRZEMYSŁAW GINTROWSKI, JACEK KACZMARSKI, ZBIGNIEW ŁAPIŃSKI - "MURY" (1981)

You will probably remember "Krzyk", the album that marked Jacek Kaczmarski's comeback in Poland. I posted it on Soviet Sam some weeks ago.

Anyway, before leaving his country, the bard had already released "Mury", a strong debut in collaboration with Przemysław Gintrowski (a folksinger and soundtrack composer) and Zbigniew Łapiński (a virtuoso piano player, who was part of "Krzyk" too).

Even though the album didn't get any popularity at the time, as it was censored when the martial law became effective at the end of 1981, it gained a huge cult following since the end of the regime. The title-track is a cover of "L'estaca" by Lluís Llach, a Spanish anti-fascist anthem, with new lyrics by Kaczmarski. Today it is one of the most popular Polish folk songs.

Gintrowski's "Śmiech" and Kaczmarski's "Pompeja" are classics too, both strongly characterized by Łapiński's elaborate piano style and some striking background vocals.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

domenica 13 aprile 2014

OBYWATEL G.C. - "OBYWATEL G.C." (1986)

If you are a frequent Soviet Sam reader, it shouldn't be necessary to introduce you the genius of Grzegorz Ciechowski. With and without Republika, he was probably the best thing happened to the Polish music scene of the Eighties.

This is his first solo album, an anthology of songs he composed while still in Republika (some of which were played during the band's last concerts). If you liked "Tak! Tak!", or Republika's last singles ("Tak długo czekam", "Sam na linie", "Moja krew"), you will like this album too, as it displays the same arrangements and approach. A dark, bombastic mix of muscular rock and electronic sounds.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

martedì 8 aprile 2014

IGOR LEN - "ZDES'" (rec. 1988, rel. 1990)

Original artist name: Игорь Лень
Original album title: Здесь

Until 1991 only the government owned label Melodiya could legally release music albums in the Soviet Union. After the fall of the socialist regime, Melodiya closed down and its entire catalogue went out of print.
While the part concerning the most popular artists was reissued by new labels born after 1991, another great part is still buried in the sands of time and nobody seems to care about it.

It's really a shame, because we are talking about a huge amount of music. Dozens of folk and ethnic music albums from all around the Soviet Unions are lost somewhere in dusty, forgotten archives, and so are lots of experimental records, including electronic pioneers, modern classical music, soundtracks, and so on.
The day a benefactor would systematically reissue the lost Melodiya catalogue will be a great day for music. For the time being, all we can do is enjoy some old vinyl rips.

"Zdes'" by Igor Len was one of the last albums released by Melodiya, in 1990. Recorded two years before by Len and his collaborator Dmitriy Tsvetkov, it consists of six tracks that mix melodic ambient music, suggestive liturgical voices, and a wide open space echo. On "Sryv" you can also hear a beautiful acoustic guitar played by Len himself.
"Zdes'" had a 250.000 copies distribution at the time, making it one of the most successful ambient music albums of its era. This makes the fact that such a gem is out of print even more sad.

P.S. I apologize for the vinyl rip, but I cannot do otherwise. Higher sounds are a bit disturbing, so be careful with the volume.

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320, vinyl rip)

giovedì 3 aprile 2014

DK - "SNOVA LYUBOV' POSELITSA" (2001 collection of two 1984 tapes)

Original band name: ДК
Original album title: Снова любовь поселица

This CD was released in 2001, becoming one of DK's most frequently found releases, but despite what many think, it doesn't contain the magnetic tape of the same title released in 1984. In fact, it collects tracks from two other tapes of that year, "Vtoroye aprelya" and "Prekrasnyy novyy mir".

If compared to DK's other anthology appeared on Soviet Sam, "Lirika", this is more avant-garde oriented. There's nothing here resembling a song, but the music is still enjoyable in its perverted way. A raw sound quality, repetitive rhythms, crazy noises, spooky jingles, grotesque declamations, and lots of bizarre instrumental solos for guitar, organ, sax, and flute.
There are two tracks in particular which I find shockingly ahead of their time. I'm talking about "Staryy sukhodroch", with its incredible proto-trip hop rhythm, and "Poslushay drug", ten apocalyptic minutes with slow, distorted guitars which predate the sludge metal sound in many aspects.

DOWNLOAD (kpbs: 320)

venerdì 28 marzo 2014

KOMMUNIZM - "KHRONIKA PIKIRUYUSHCHEGO BOMBARDIROVSHCHIKA" (1990)

Original title: Хроника пикирующего бомбардировщика
Band: Коммунизм

Kommunizm is one of the many projects led by the genius of Yegor Letov. It is considered his most authentic output, because of its intimate nature. In fact, Kommunizm never performed live, and this brought Letov and his friends to let out their obsessions and ambitions like never before. 
A great part of Kommunizm's work consists in sound manipulations and collages, often surpassing the song-form which made the fortune of a band such as Grazhdanskaya Oborona.

Anyway, this album is pretty approachable. It is the last released under this name, and it collects sessions from a three-year span. Here you can find avantgarde performances ("Povest' o nastoyashchem cheloveke", in which Letov showed once again his love for Sergei Prokofiev), acoustic lullabies ("Nyurkina pesnya", sung by Anna Volkova and Yanka Dyagileva; the American traditional "The Birds of Paradise", sung by Dmitri Selivanov), noise-rock assaults ("Malen'kiy prints vozvrashchalsya domoy", "Ivanovo detstvo"), and spoken word pieces.
Some of these tracks were later re-recorded by another of Letov's projects, Yegor i Opizdenevshie.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

sabato 22 marzo 2014

DK - "LIRIKA" (1982-83)

Original band name: ДК
Original album title: Лирика

DK is the name of a strange, unique project, led by Muscovite drummer and producer Sergey Zhakirov from 1980 to 1990. 
Zhakirov was an extremely prolific artist, recording and self-releasing through illegal magnetic tapes around 40 albums in his ten years of activity. 
His music was so extreme and his lyrics so uncompromising that the authorities forbade DK to play live. For this reason, most of his albums were sold in very small amounts of copies, and today they are considered lost.

Zhakirov is still detaining the original tapes and in the Nineties he reissued them on CD, even if rarely with their original tracklists. He preferred instead to create anthologies with tracks from a pair of magnetic tapes each time.
Reissued in 1995, "Lirika" contains seventeen compositions originally released on "Uvezu tebya ya v tundru" and "Ikh navry", both recorded around 1982-83, depending on sources.

This is some of the most sharp, controversial and exciting rock music you will ever hear. Helped by singer Evgeny Morozov and by the exceptional guitar player Dmitry Yanshin, Zhakirov fronts a lot of music styles, distorcing them through his low fidelity, sick approach. The general mood kinda reminds me of the Residents, but I prefer DK because their music is more rhythmic and catchy.
From the post-punk and polka mix of "Vot tak vota" to the devastated version of "La cucaracha" that is "Agdam", from the endless guitar solo of "Blednaya lyubov'" to the lo-fi pop anthem "Odekolon", this anthology will take your breath away.

P.S. If you're a fan of Vincent Price, you surely will appreciate his laugh at the beginning of "Prorekha sheyk"

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

domenica 16 marzo 2014

NAUTILUS POMPILIUS - "RAZLUKA" (1986)

Original album title: Разлука

"Razluka" is a landmark in the career of Nautilus Pompilius. It was their first album with lyrics by poet Ilya Kormiltsev, the first with Aleksey Mogilevsky's characteristic saxophone solos, and the first with a decent sound quality. 
It was recorded with the help of sound engineer Andrey Makarov, in the basement of the Architectural Institute of Yekaterinburg, where the band members were studying at the time. 

Almost every song here is a classic of Butusov's songbook and the range of styles is wider than ever, including post-punk marches ("Skovannye odnoi tsep'yu"), mutant blues ("Prazdnik obschej bedy"), robotic songs full of synthesized sounds ("Vsego lish' byt'"), and funny impressions of ballroom dance music ("Nasha sem'ya"). If you want to hear something really different, this is your album.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

martedì 11 marzo 2014

NAUTILUS POMPILIUS - "NEVIDIMKA" (1985)

Formed in 1982 and led by singer Vyacheslav Butusov and bassist Dmitry Umetsky, Nautilus Pompilius was the prominent rock band from the Ural region, and one of the most important Russian bands of the Eighties. In terms of popularity they were second only to Kino.

Their debut album, "Pereezd" (1983), is a collection of poorly recorded, but extremely aggressive punk-folk songs. It is not a bad, but at the same time it doesn't represent the band at all. I think this second studio effort is the right place to start from.
Here Butusov adopts the new romantic aesthetics that would have made him famous a couple of years later, while his compositions ranges from tango to boogie, from post-punk to torch songs. The arrangements incorporate a set of electric guitars with rudimental effects, some keyboards and a basic drum machine. Sound engineer Leonid Porohnya also did a great job, considering the poor equipment he could count on.

At the end of the tracklist you can find two of the band's classics, "Knyaz' tishiny" and "Poslednee pis'mo" (they became popular in 1988, when they were re-recorded to be included on "Knyaz' tishiny", the band's first legal album, which you will eventually find on Soviet Sam).

DOWNLOAD (kbps: 320)

venerdì 28 febbraio 2014

ONE MILLION BULGARIANS - "PIERWSZA PŁYTA" (rec. 1987, rel. 2004)

In April 1987, "Czerwone krzaki" reached no. 12 on the Trójka songs chart. It could have been the start of another great career for a Polish post-punk band, but just a few months later the authorities forbade the release of One Million Bulgarians' debut album, because of its controversial nature. 
When they were finally able to release their first records in 1990, everyone seemed to have forgotten them, nor they seemed interested to front rock music's changes that happened in the meanwhile.

Their originally intended debut album was released only in 2004, seventeen years after it was recorded, showing a band in a way superior condition if compared to the albums released in the 90s. 
"Pierwsza płyta" is an anthology of angry, rough, and martial post-punk gems. If you like these characteristics , you will fall in love with this record.

P.S. The first eight tracks represent the album as it was conceived, the ninth is "Czerwone krzaki". I've added it as a bonus track, because it is the band's most known and important song.


DOWNLOAD (kbps: 224)

martedì 25 febbraio 2014

JACEK KACZMARSKI - "KRZYK" (rec. 1981, rel. 1989)

Jacek Kaczmarski was touring France when the Polish authority declared the martial law at the end of 1981.
Considering that the lyrics of his songs were particularly harsh against the local regime, even if his accusations were concealed by metaphors and poetry, he decided not to return to his native country
He instead lived in exile, working for Radio Free Europe until 1989. With the end of Soviet rule over Poland, he could finally return.

Recorded in 1981 and censored by the authorities at the time, "Krzyk" is the first album released by Kaczmarski after his comeback. It was an immediate success, with lots of classics of Polish bard music. Here you can find "Obława" (a modified version of an old song by Russian legend Vladimir Vysotsky), "Lekcja historii klasycznej""Sen Katarzyny II", and other well known titles.

You will be conquered by the richness of these songs even if you don't understand their lyrics (which I know only through some translations I've found across the net).
Not only Kaczmarski was a superb guitar player and singer (capable of aggressive, torrid performances), but he was supported by Zbigniew Łapiński, a virtuoso and elegant classical piano player. Every track has a powerful melody and is tastefully decorated.
I love how Kaczmarski's urgency is perfectly completed by Łapiński's gusto.

Jacek died of cancer in April 2004.

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sabato 15 febbraio 2014

YANKA DYAGILEVA - "ANGEDONIYA" (1989)

Original artist name: Янка Дягилева
Original album title: Ангедония

This is "Domoi!"'s twin album. Still noise-rock, still great songwriting.

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lunedì 10 febbraio 2014

YANKA DYAGILEVA - "DOMOI!" (1989)

Original artist name: Янка Дягилева
Original album title: Домой!

1989 was prolific for Yanka Dyagileva. In the beginning of the year she released her magnum opus, "Prodano!", a folk music manifesto in which she re-recorded a lot of her old songs, giving them a new spare arrangement for vocals and guitar only. Then she recorded those same songs one more time, in loud, hardcore and noisy rock versions. They were released through two albums, "Domoi!" and "Angedoniya"

If you liked "Prodano!", you can't miss this one.

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martedì 28 gennaio 2014

BLUE EFFECT, 1969

The history of Blue Effect is a good example of how musicians in Czechoslovakia were coping with the Soviet authority's decision of putting a stop to rock music.
The first single of the band, "Slunečný hrob" (transl. "Sunlit grave"), was an enormous success in 1969, but their existence as a mainstream act was a short term thing. After a couple of albums they were forced to change their style to an instrumental form of jazz-rock, for two good reasons.
First, the Soviets went extremely harsh with the censorship, forbidding politically conscious lyrics and basically every word about freedom. Second, the oppressors enstabilished a professional musician license, which was refused to every rock band who didn't compromise with the governement requests. The only chance to make professional music without being "one of them", was the instrumental way (that explain why jazz-rock and instrumental progressive rock was widespread there at the time). 

I have hereby uploaded the first single and the first EP of the band, with Vladimír Mišík on vocals. He left them in 1970, to join Flamengo, while guitar player Radim Hladík went on, releasing experimental albums throughout the Seventies.
"Slunečný hrob" is a wonderful, tragic ballad, reminding me of Scott Walker, David Bowie, and Procol Harum. "Sen není věčný" is a segmented pop gem that mixes baroque pop, samba influences, and science fiction elements. The other four tracks, sung in English, are not as interesting. But who cares, when you already have two little diamonds that you can repeatedly listen to?


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giovedì 23 gennaio 2014

KAPELA ZE WSI WARSZAWA - "WIOSNA LUDU" (2001)

On the back of the cover you can read that Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa (transl. Warsaw Village Band) combines respect for tradition with search for new ideas. Their unique sound is achieved combining a traditional singing technique called "white voices" and archaic instruments. Their performances joyfully interprets some old melodies, rediscovering trance elements from traditional Polish music.

There's not much to add. It's an amazingly played and produced modern folk record, with digitally processed traditional instruments, and some arcane, mystic atmospheres. You won't find too many albums like this one.

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martedì 14 gennaio 2014

EWA BEM - "GRAM O WSZYSTKO" [Złota kolekcja, 1975-1987]

Ewa Bem is the queen of the Polish pop-jazz scene. If you appreciated Bemibem's album, you are already confident with her peculiar vocal style, velvety and dynamic at the same time. 

This collection offers an accurate view over the golden age of her solo career, featuring nineteen songs written by some of the best local composers and jazz musicians, such as Jerzy Wasowski and Wojciech Karolak. Nothing less than perfect, sophisticated pop music, with jazz fusion guitars, seductive lounge keyboards, and occasional wind instruments sections.

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domenica 12 gennaio 2014

TADEUSZ WOŹNIAK - "TADEUSZ WOŹNIAK" [aka "ODCIEŃ CISZY"] (1974)

Tadeusz Woźniak is a prolific Polish songwriter and composer who spent much of his career behind the scenes, creating music for theatre, soundtracks, and songs for other artists. In five decades of career he released only five albums under his own name. 

Released in 1972, his debut album was launched by "Zegarmistrz światła", a wonderful hybrid of baroque pop, folk and jazz music. The rest of the tracklist sounded a bit old-fashioned anyway, showing only a part of Woźniak's potential. 
This second studio effort is his real masterpiece. It is way less joyful than its predecessor, frequently adopting a gothic-folk feel and expanding its structures up to the progressive rock boundaries.
"Odcień ciszy" lasts fourteen minutes and is one of the best suites I've ever heard. Not only it is probably Woźniak's most ambitious work as a composer, but it also contains a thrilling orchestral arrangement by Henryk Wojciechowski, some tense electric guitar ornaments by Tomasz Jaśkiewicz (formerly an Akwarele member), majestic drumming courtesy of Aleksander Bem, and female vocal group Alibabki to add even more atmosphere.
The remaining songs are shorter but dramatic pieces of orchestral folk, in the name of severity and without ever compromising with easy pop temptations, making this one of the most beautiful and respectable albums to came out in Poland in the early 70s.

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