Radio Quarantine -Chernikovskaya Hata – Randevu (2015)

This quote from their Bandcamp page: “The stunning, sometimes catastrophic contradictions of the modern world, the never-ending struggle of the creative and destructive forces of life, the bright humanistic ideals of freedom and justice found in this collective the conscience and pain of their generation.”

I’m sure Google’s translation has missed the mark to a point, but this: “The stunning, sometimes catastrophic contradictions of the modern world…”

Yes…

So this is the first release from Chernikovskaya Hata, a ‘collective’ from Ufa, Russia which is down southeast of Moscow in Bashkortostan, one of those republics that bridges Europe and Asia. I don’t know much about the history there, or why they didn’t seek independence with the other ‘stans,’ but there it is. The production value here in Randevu (or rendezvous in English) is pretty terrible but the intent carries it. They’re down mining in the dark places.

I’ve been thinking lately about what the early post-punk/coldwave/darkwave misses, or rather why even though the Post-Soviet post-punk is clearly derivative of 80s England or France, it often sounds more authentic, at least to my ears. It could just be a question of the mood getting lost in slick production with the early stuff, but it just always seemed to me, despite that I love it, that the English post-punk/Goth/coldwave was too steeped in theatrics and melodrama. Consider the difference between Joy Division and New Order, and they are essentially the same band, but crossing the bridge between punk and pop. Stopping short of calling bands like The Cure or Depeche Mode poseurs, there was still a sort of dramarama, theater student vibe. I won’t call them tourists either but while their predecessors (a la Ian Curtis) were in the dark places, bands that came after were looking at it from a safe distance. You don’t get the feeling that the Eastern Europeans are safe at all. This sounds like a sweeping generality and I’m not even posting this as a great truth of the music. It’s just a sneaking suspicion, that some are writing fiction that resembles or reflects reality, and the others are writing autobiographically. Or not… I don’t know. I always got the impression that Depeche Mode, for example, sounded more authentic as they progressed into their adult lives and experienced more. They grew darker and harder. They started writing songs from the inside out, and that’s when they got my attention anyway, when it wasn’t theater anymore. Then there are bands like The Smiths, whose talent and songwriting I admire, but they were either unable or unwilling to cross the bridge.

I will, to a certain extent, blame the commercial landscape of Western Europe for what post-punk lost as we moved into the 80s and the Age of MTV. There were bands that had an edge, Scritti Politti comes to mind, and by the time they were fed through the happy factory of commodification, ended up with no edge at all. Style overwhelmed substance and fashion marketing shaped the sound more than the actual lives of the people making the music. Not that there is anything wrong with pop music. It depends on what you’re looking for, but pop sounds to my ears always seemed more like happy pills and happy pills were never my drug of choice. Jagged edges always felt more honest to me and that’s transcended any musical genre that I’ve ever been involved in. I’d rather be creeped out or frightened than sedated, if you get my drift. It’s just more honest.

That’s all I’m looking for, most days anyway. Just some honesty. It’s led me into strange lands, both with arts and with people. Honesty and authenticity are incredibly hard to find some days.

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