юность севера: Punk, Yakutsk, Russia
Aesthesys: Russian instrumental post-rock
There’s a lot going on in the music of Aesthesys. Most of it on paper – Interpol-like driving guitars, pretty chimes and strings, your favorite prog drummer – shouldn’t work, yet everything blends so well here. The Moscow-based outfit knows exactly what it’s doing, for it’s had years to develop its chops from its earliest days as Nik Koniwzski’s one-man project to now being a fleshed-out band.
“[we’re] an instrumental outfit hailing from Moscow, Russia, performing a mixture of post-rock, ambient, neoclassical and progressive music.”
Aesthesys: Facebook Twitter SoundCloud Website
Зарница: pronounced “zarneetsa,” this is danceable Moscow punk filled with post-punk influences and irreverence.
Russian screamo has always had a few defining characteristics carving out its own place and fanbase all over the world: a certain tundra-inspired post-rock influence, dark yet hopeful and moving atmospheres, epic guitar riffs, and broken-hearted screaming. It’s a recipe that repeats itself over and over but rarely gets boring. Therefore, it’s quite a surprise to find out that Зарница, a new Russian all star band featuring members and ex members of well-known screamo and post-rock acts such as Namatjira, Sen Deni (from Minsk, Belarus), Totoro, Маяк and more, doesn’t play screamo.
Зарница, which means “summer lightning” and is pronounced “zarneetsa”, is a four piece based in Moscow. On their first EP released in 2016, В доме престарелых, one can certainly find a lot of influences that necessarily derive from the musical background of the band’s members, especially when it comes to the ultra-melodic and uncontainable guitar riffs. However, the post-punk driven rhythms and the drunken La Dispute vocals change the settings of Зарница’s imagery, and the final result is much more similar to early The Cure or to Makthaverskan.
The contagious liveliness of Зарница, together with their queer-oriented appearance at their own concerts, shows just how much its members needed to get off the dark tones and themes they were used to. Their songs are summer tales about being bored, getting drunk on wine, and missing the last metro home. But behind the excitement of their fans jumping at their shows, an almost unnameable fear grows through the band’s disco-punk riffs: it’s the fear of growing old and tired, of forgetting youth’s pleasures and ideals, and most of all of the always disquieting Russian winter approaching every time the summer ends. Honestly, though, Зарница’s music is warm enough to survive that as well.
I’m actually talking about two things today: Russian composer Vladimir Martynov and American string ensemble Kronos Quartet. Martynov is a contemporary classical composer who specializes in concerto, orchestral music, chamber music, and choral music genres. Kronos Quartet is a San Francisco-based Grammy-winning string quartet – David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello) – that has reinterpreted everyone from Thelonious Monk to Jimi Hendrix and has worked with the likes of Asha Bhosle, The National, and David Bowie. The long list of collaborators is so impressive that it’s worth clicking here to see all the work they’ve done.
Martynov’s original “The Beatitudes” is pleasant and moving, but Kronos Quartet adds so much more depth and emotion to the composition. This string version of “The Beatitudes” needs to be played over every emotional scene in every Terrence Malick film (The Chicago Tribune also agrees).
Note: I’m not a fan of the photo chosen for this YouTube video since I think it spoofs the song’s beauty. For optimal listening, press play while not looking at this photo.
Today the last two imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band that openly protested Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, were released under a sudden Amnesty Law. The Russian government claims that the law is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Russia’s post-Communist Constitution, but it’s important to note that the Winter Olympics are near, which takes place in Sochi, Russia.
Below is the music video Pussy Riot made for their song “Punk Prayer – Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away”. This video was a protest performance directed at the Orthodox Church’s support of Vladimir Putin and took place in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. It was after the release of this music video that three members of the band were imprisoned for religious and political Hooliganism and were all sentenced to two years in prison.
Below you can watch the HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, which follows the radical Russian punk band from the day of their formation (which was on the same day of Putin’s return to power) through the incarceration of its three band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich.