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The Beatles Russian-style
RBTH

Rock music from St. Petersburg

TRACKLIST:

1. Neon Lights - Alright

2. Polyusa - On The Back Of A Whale

3. Zorge - San Fracisco

4. Optimistica Orchestra - Walking with light baggage

5. Tinavie - Hidden Place

Any study of the Russian music scene should focus not only on the musicians, but on what lies behind the names, specifically the labels. After all, talent these days rarely speaks for itself, its voice being drowned in an endless stream radio waves. The main task facing Zapal Records, as indeed any label, is to strengthen that voice and make it ring loud and clear.

The debut album of synth-pop band Neon Lights (“Heaven”) will be the label’s first release. These Petersburg newcomers, although unofficially nicknamed the Russian Pet Shop Boys, could not be more aptly monickered: their songs, replete with opalescent electronic sounds, give voice to the huge bright neon signs of the urban landscape.

Counterbalancing them on the same label are the experienced rockers Polyusa (Poles), who entered the battle on the Russian musical front back in the late 1990s. By the end of 2014 they had laid up a new secret weapon — their fifth full-length studio album. With each song Polyusa proves that the power of rock music does not always lie in cranked-up amplifiers and supercharged guitars, but in sincere, subtle lyricism that sends the listener into a flight of thought (read the lyrics below).

Zorge’s backstory is no less saturated. The group's leader and bass player Yevgeny Fedorov previously led the successful group Tequilazzz, which ran for almost 20 years. In 2010, together with German drummer Marc-Oliver Lauber, Fedorov launched Zorge. The familiar deep, rich bass has been supplemented with the vivid personalities of the musicians, who all pull together in creating a harmonious polyphonic instrumental sound.

Zorge is not Yevgeny Fedorov’s only group. As a member of Optimistica Orchestra, he dons a different mantle, and together with musicians from Aquarium, Leningrad, and Spleen, all austerely attired, performs smart, elegant songs in genres ranging from ska to bossa nova on rare instruments such as the kantele (a Finnish psaltery).

The only (so far) Muscovites on the label are indie-poppers Tinavie. Over the past five years they have released three studio albums, which have introduced Europe and the U.S. to the intelligent side of Russian music. Their smooth, unhurried musical compositions are shrouded in an invisible net from which escape is futile, especially when you hear the lush vocals of Tina Manysheva.

Lyrics

On The Back Of A Whale by Polyusa

 

Disappeared behind

The point of no return.

Why are not you glad

Why are you sad?

Calm in the chest

Faithful soldier.

I forget thee,

If you can forgive.

 

Chorus:

A girl sitting on the back of a whale

Over the head of stars, stars.

Always never ever comes

Too late, too late.

A couple of words and the world

Shrunk to grief.

A couple of words and the world

Has grown to love.

It would not give a damn

Would not be desperate.

Nor would have laughed,

If not for you.

 

Chorus:

A girl sitting on the back of a whale

Over the head of stars, stars.

Always never ever comes

Too late, too late.

A girl sitting on the back of a whale

Over the head of stars, stars.

Always never ever comes

 Too late, too late.

9 October 2014
Tags: russia, st petersburg, music

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