This mixtape has much less the Doomer vibe than I’ve been listening to but still goes pretty deeply into the Post-Punk, New Wave, Cold Wave and Darkwave territory of the Soviet and Post-Soviet music I’ve been digging into. All of it though offers quite a different portrait of life on the other side of the world, before and after the fall of The Iron Curtain. Our view of life there, when access was still largely closed off, was very 2-dimensional. There was winter and darkness and oppression. There was breadlines and rationing and complete government control. I don’t recall “soundtracking” my imaginings of life in Russia. Art and music didn’t really come into play. It’s not that I consciously thought that cultural expression didn’t exist. It’s just that there was no information to fill in the blanks so I left it empty. Well… surprise. The zeitgeist still seems to be of cold and dark, but to what degree that is the true shape of things remains a mystery to me. There must have been frivolous pop tunes and teen idols and splashes of color. There must’ve been a Russian version of The Beach Boys. My view is coming into focus, but it is still very cold, gray cement and snow. This mix isn’t going to do anything to dispel or disprove the mythology we built here in The West, but it’s revealing.
At some point I’m going to use Google to translate some of the band names and song titles in this track list. I’m sure it will be further revealing, at least into how these artists self-identified. The answers are probably right under my nose, but the language doesn’t make it more simple to get a clearer understanding.
1. Закрытое предприятие — Я никому не должен 0:00 2. Чёрный Лукич — В Ленинских горах 3:08 3. Гражданская Оборона — Тоталитаризм 6:00 4. Инструкция По Выживанию — В Октябре 9:46 5. Парадный Вход — Серый человек 14:24 6. Кооператив Ништяк — Дом 17:50 7. Чернозём — На переднем крае весны 21:20 8. Промышленная Архитектура — Политический труп 25:34 9. Янка Дягилева — Мы по колено 28:44 10. Инструкция По Выживанию — Родина-Смерть 30:30 11. Чёрный Лукич — Мы из Кронштадта 32:42 12. Коммунизм — Стоп для Роллинг Стоунз 35:08 13. Гражданская Оборона — Нечего терять 39:20 14. Чернозём —Последний снег 42:53 15. Егор и Опизденевшие — Семь шагов за горизонт 46:53 16. Янка Дягилева — Выше ноги от земли 52:18
To understand pop artists and artistic movements or schools of thought is to understand a people’s vision of themselves and their place in the world. You’re not going to get the whole picture from one particular movement, but even here in The United States there are certain vibes that are pervasive across most genres of music. There’s a lightness and certainty of identity. Or maybe it’s just been ubiquitous across all my experiences so I’ve been accustomed to finding that feel. Anyway… I’m not trying to explain everything I’m doing here. I’m trying to understand if I have ulterior motives beyond just finding sounds and vibes that match my mood on any given morning. There is a degree also to which I ‘m sure I’m exploring to find a great understanding of the world as a whole, but mostly it’s about finding the right chord.
Beyond my bedroom the world is still quite insane. We’re all still sailing in a leaky boat, a couple days away from the inauguration with threats of extreme violence coming in from all angles. I’ve begun to question the wisdom of shutting down the extremists on social media. It’s not that we as a whole took the daily torrents of accusations an threats all that seriously. I think we’ve begun so numbed by the volume and intensity now over the last twenty years that we tend to ignore much of it. Every online forum, not matter the topic, is flooded with horrible behavior. Every comments section in every news site; even discussions on Youtube videos, is filled with the most incredibly unkind and abusive language. At the same time, keeping it in the open exposes it to open air. We know better where the threats come from and who is making them. Law enforcement, who has been the most negligent of all, could at least use the information to trace criminal intent to the source. It could have been a useful tool, despite all the Big Brother, totalitarian implications of it. Allowing it in the open may have defused some but not all of the anger anyway. Now it’s out there boiling over out of public sight. I just don’t know.
What is this week going to look like? It doesn’t seem possible that it will be business as usual with people going to and fro from work. Let me rephrase that: It doesn’t seem possible that we’re going to reach Friday without a major armed confrontation. I just don’t see this week being peaceful. It’s reassuring to some extent that my place will be here at home viewing whatever unfolds on the web. There is a sense of foreboding and nobody seems oblivious to it anymore. People are snapping on each other in little spats. Everyone I’ve spoken to tells me that they’ve got an apology or amends to make after the last few weeks.
Get to it folks, while you have an opportunity. If Covid-19 and political events haven’t told you already that life is a lot more tenuous a proposition than you thought in 2019, then I don’t know what it’s going to take to convince you. Make your peace where peace needs to be made. Be kind where you need to be kind. Love where you need to love. Okay?