So after exploring Turkey’s underground music scene and finding a wealth of amazing artist outside my wheelhouse, I thought I would take a dive into another region I am just starting to get familiar with. Russia, the motherland. Vast and dark, unknown in my early music experience. When I started Amaranth in the 90’s I had a close friend (and additional singer in the band) who is now the singer of Detroit dark rock darlings The Ruiners, Nina Friday. She never really shared the music of her past. So I started my own journey. A special thank you to my friend Vitaly Sanych at Post Punk/Gothic Russia for taking me to school. I hope you enjoy the road as well.
In order to really grasp the present I first had to learn my history. Russia had a new wave scene that coincided with America and Europe in the mid 80’s. I had never heard of bands like KINO from St. Petersburg. Inspired by The Cure, Blondie, and The Smiths. Beautiful poetic lyrics, overlapping music full of distance and dark rock.
As I started looking into history I found a wealth of more avant garde sounds full of dissonance and heavy rock influence that tested the boundaries of the bizarre like Zvuki Mu. As well as gothabilly edge like Объект Насмешек. Then Synthwave deathboi disco like Kofe. The emphasis and instrumentation was often very different. It gave a unique flavor, but it was hard not to recognize so many aspect of the same music journey I traveled in America.
In 1990 Post punk resurgence hit Russia. Not in the way it would hit New York in 2000. Instead this was that raw Factory Records feel of A Certain Ratio, Joy Division, or Happy Mondays. Uptempo dark lofi anguish spewed at velocity through the smoke and danger with DURNOE VLIYANIE (Harmful Influence) . They are well known in Russia but I never knew what it could be if Ian Curtis has carried on making music.
Mid 90’s brought the “Silver Age” of Russian post punk. Frighting sinister goth anguish with traditional instruments and emotive goth feel like Lacrimosa.
As the 90’s closed goth subculture started to gain traction. The first major Russian website about goth subculture began GOTHIC.RU. This led to a music festival in Moscow “Edge of the Night”.
As the century changed goth music in Russia began to splinter into new subgenre factions. I really enjoyed the early Purple Fog Side sounds with EDM/Industrial feelings. Or sinister traditional terror rock like Missionaries from the Outside. Children of the Gun which was a bizarre mixture of Morrisey and The Mission UK.
So now that we have strolled down memory lane and I have dipped a toe into the rich post punk/goth history in Russia I want to talk about some of the exciting things I am seeing there today. This is a land so full of passion, cold, darkness, and perseverance. It is no wonder I found a music scene brimming over with diversity and talent. Lets share some now.
First up is dark synthwave band Monoplan. I really enjoy the feeling of moving parts here. Like a giant trap of blocks sliding in precision. Dmitry Philippov has a voice of lovely simple melodies that remind me of The Church. The more I hear it the more i enjoy.
Giant Waves was a really cool sound. All of the slick tight progression of post punk with dark synths and rising Ian McCulloch tyle vocals. It hits on a lot of familiar styles but finds it’s own ground in the striking frozen style and prog riffs.
Raven Said is a high energy shadow punk driving acid spit flavor of Misfits and Batcave. The vocals are sinister and the guitar riffs are scorching. It keeps hitting different layers and hitting them hard.
Umerechny Sad (Сумеречный Сад)(Twilight Garden) has the explosive bass drive of goth with the candy coated synth slides of new wave. The vocals are angelic floating lady croons which bewitch and flow forth into your imagination.
The Quinsy is dark post punk with soul and spirit. Bass heavy and full of transition it really captures the emotion and tradition of old school slow whiskey and stinging anguish flavor. i love these call and answer vocals.
The End of Electronics (Конец Электроники) gives high speed chorus chants for anthem emotions and sizzling post punk movement. I’m stomping my boots and flailing my arms to this burning jam.
Witch will Die Tomorrow brings that refined indie flavor and deep baritone vocals. It echos from below the canyon of life with vibrating clarity.
Облако – Корни The dreamy early New order aspect of Russian post punk. Full of tantalizing fantasia and strike pulse vocals. A fast subway to the heart of you city.
I feel like I have unearthed a whole new world that has been happening parallel to my own just as rich and full. I will keep searching and absorbing this untapped resource of glory in the Russian scene. I didn’t even touch on Witchhouse yet :). The moral of this story for me has been, step outside your comfort zone, dive in head first, and find a world of treasure from the other side of the planet.