Hear Russia’s finest shoegaze, coldwave and stoner metal
Often our knowledge of music from other countries is limited to what we might call ‘novelty’ acts - or those that seem so absurd to our Western ears, that they scream for attention. For example, can you name any Korean artist or song other than Psi and ‘Gangnam Style’?
Even Russia is not immune to the curse of the novelty. Perhaps their best known export is Pussy Riot, who rode to international attention on a wave of anti-Putin sentiment clad in balaclavas, smashing the oligarchy, patriarchy or any other kind of hierarchy they could stomp their boots on.
There’s also tATu, who, despite sounding more like Alvin & The Chipmunks than dear Stephen Morrissey, produced a cover version of The Smiths’ ‘How Soon Is Now’ that to this day clings on to a special place in my heart.
Thankfully, we can easily redress such criminally vulgar misconceptions by taking a chance on these new Russian artists. Their sounds span shoegaze dream-pop, stoner metal, coldwave electronics and even feature a tribute to an Australian rock legend.
Life On Venus
Moscow’s Life On Venus have certainly been choosing My Bloody Valentine from the cocktail menu, as their new album Encounters might attest. But they have sanded down the rough edges and dialled up the dream-pop component, the results ending up both reassuringly familiar and encouragingly new.
Having recorded their demo only early last year at Moscow University, Encounters represents a deliciously complete achievement and a special delivery for those desperately waiting for the Slowdive revival.
It’s hard not to be intrigued when an album appears with the title Sex On A Grave.
And whilst you might be tempted to hastily dismiss such a thing as the ill-advised earnestness of a teenage goth band –especially given that one of the album tracks is actually called ‘Sister Of Mercy’ – Lunar Funeral are worth a slice of your attention.
Contrary to all of the above, they are in fact a sludge-blues stoner-psych band, carrying the swagger of a slo-mo Beasts Of Bourbon and the hardball riffs of Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’.
Saint Petersburg duo Radmila Nikogosian and Pavel Astvatsturian have released both of their albums through the always-on-point underground U.S. label Not Not Fun (whose catalogue includes Australian artists such as Blank Realm and Rites Wild).
They tag their releases as melancholy ambient, but that does them a disservice. There’s a mess of far-flung genres in the mix, highlighted by ghostly vestiges of traditional folk massaged with coldwave electronics.
Nineteen-year-old Sarah Persephona goes to considerable lengths to facilitate a partnership between USSR and our home country, with a cover version of Rowland S. Howard’s ‘Dead Radio’.
Sarah, who was born in Saint Petersburg and signed to Stockholm label PNKSLM, garnered a heap of international attention in 2015 with her infectious garage-pop debut ‘IDK How’.
She’s clearly a fan of the late Rowland, recording this tribute on his birthday in October 2016 and naming her most EP Teenage Movie Soundtrack - a riff on Howard’s 1999 album Teenage Snuff Film from which this track originates.
For more of the best music from all around the globe, tune into Stu Buchanan on Fat Planet every Wednesday from 8pm. Or listen anytime online.