This winter brings us a cold present: Несмеяна (Nesmeyana) — a band so disturbing and horrorful that they definitely deserve their attention on vinyl. Named after a princess-who-never-laughs from russian folklore, Nesmeyana were a duo from Voronezh, led by a visual artist and composer Alexandr Seleznyov (lyrics, synths and keyboards) and Viktoria Shikova (vocals). Formed in 2009, they were active for six years and produced seven self-released albums, sharing them with the world mostly as free mp3's. Despite the raw quality of their home-made works, they managed to catch attention from serious russian musical media, such as zvuki.ru and colta.ru and some of them even named Nesmeyana as one of the best Voronezh bands of the last 20 years.

      So what makes this project so special and unique?
      In contrast to lots of contemporary russian bands who strive to get international attention by singing in english and overproducig their sound but getting rather mediocre results instead, Nesmeyana decided to pay attention to their own history and were bold enough to explore the most outrageous dance music styles of soviet 80's — so called "cooperative disco" and "orphan pop". An absolute icon of "orphan pop" were Ласковый май (Laskoviy May), Soviet Union's first succesful boys-band. Incredibly popular at that time, it is strange how this cheap ersatz of euro- and italo- disco, often sung with quite unpleasant moaning vocals could provoke suicide among adolescent soviet schoolgirls. "Pop music in Russia always smelt of death" — says Nesmeyana's Alexandr Seleznyov, implying not only its destructive content but often a direct involvement in criminal business for some music makers, and "orphan pop" was no exclusion.

      A similar situation was evolving around "cooperative disco". More popular synth disco acts of that time, e.g. Мираж (Mirage) or Комбинация (Combinatziya) gave birth to a whole plethora of undiscovered underground artifacts like Барби (Barbie), Анжелика (Anzhelika), Констанция (Constantzia), hundreds of them all over Soviet Union, some full with creative weirdness, which could be obvious even in their names like Ласковый Бык (Tender Bull). Trying to describe this thriving scene, critics coined a term "cooperative disco", often referring to amateur pop music mostly made in province, with rather low chances of getting a nation- wide fame, but with a quite solid pop potential nevertheless. Extremely hard to find and partly lost forever on soviet tapes, all these bands were the main source of inspiration for Nesmeyana, but only in terms of musical arrangements and composition. When it comes to lyrics, Nesmeyana unrelentingly trashes all the cliched love themes, prevailing in the typical naive "cooperative pop" song, and comes up with an alternative, more harsh and more honest depiction of that uneasy end-of-soviet-80's time.

      Crime, prostitution, killings, banditism, drug abuse, poverty, decay, war in Afghanistan — all these disturbing symptoms of the Soviet Union's disintegration up to its final collapse find their perfect place in Nesmeyana's lyrics. And the most dominating theme which gradually grows so big until it fills all the spectrum of their latest discography is, of course, death. With this formula Nesmeyana succeeds to create modern songs for russian Thanatos unlike any other russian metal or gothic band. Actually, a solid metal background is clearly audible on some of their albums in form of distorted basslines and sinister synth riffs, as both Viktoria and Alexandr confess: "before starting Nesmeyana we used to play various vandal rock". Seleznyov still continues to work on such "vandal rock" project called Сукина дочь (Daughter Of A Bitch) after Nesmeyana has disbanded in 2014.

      Over the years of their creativity, Nesmeyana have developed their own distinctive "horror-trash-synth-pop" style, occasionally blending it with elements of musique concrete and post industrial noises. Notable russian media and critics defined it as "red disco", which now not only refers to Nesmeyana's musical heritage but also to a blooming homonymous community residing on the russian facebook-alike social platform vk.com, currently consisting of nearly 10K music lovers and dedicated to lost soviet "cooperative disco" artifacts.

      With their debut album Щас ты не звонишь (Now You Don't Call) Nesmeyana begin a horror journey through the dark decades of 80's and 90's exposing the most troubled themes of Soviet Union's "post- perestroika" period — premature deaths of AIDS and drug addiction, Afghan war victims brought home in coffins, devastated industrial landscapes where often rape & murder takes place; this album tells us some unpleasant but quite realistic stories which may have indeed happened in the past. A combination of a simple drum machine beat, silly synth bubbling (which can compete with The Residents in its cynicism) and Seleznyov's provocative, full of black humour lyrics produces an "effect of a bomb, exploding in your head" and from one album to another their "red disco" style gets only better. It turns out that Nesmeyana's approach to re-thinking and re-interpreting of the last decades of dying Soviet Union can be nearly unexhaustible in terms of creativity and might even eventually open a real portal to hell. Who knows, maybe that's the reason why Nesmeyana do not record music anymore, the duo is mysterious about that.

      While some may say that songs of Nesmeyana is nothing more than a sort of odd, sarcastic post- modern prank and could not be taken seriously, the disturbing images they create are descriptive enough to embrace the whole epoch in soviet and post-soviet history. This could be a reason why this studio project (Nesmeyana did very few gigs when they were active), despite their short existence, earned eternal love and devotion from russian-speaking fans all over the globe. Summarizing everything written above, we may conclude that Nesmeyana is definitely not for everyone's ears, but to be honest, how often do you have a chance to listen to some cool music from Voronezh?


Maxim Løy
December 2015
Brovary, Ukraine.
www.baranrecords.com

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Presidium "Stellar dial" (1989)

Presidium was formed by a 34-year old singer, composer and songwriter Vladimir Savenok in Leningrad in 1989. At that moment he had already about 15 years of musical experience and contributed his song writing skills to various bands like «Рассвет», «Старатели», «Веретено», «Ориенталь», «Обертон», «Белые Стрелы» and much more. (These bands are still waiting to be discovered) However he never took a leading part in the projects and bands he got involved into. Everything changed in mid-80's when the soviet rock-n-roll scene started to bloom rapidly thus giving an opportunity for lots of underground acts to get well-known.

Presidium was not a typical band of that time. While others (mostly rock-n-roll artists) picked up harsh social themes mixed with artistic nighilism as the main component for their songs, Savenok offered something different: sophisticated vocal polyphony and melodical, neoromantic language formed the basis for his music. Thats why at some point "Prasidium" consisted up to six vocalists, which, of course was the main problem when band was going on tour or performing live.


Maxim Løy
December 2015
Brovary, Ukraine.
www.baranrecords.com

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Несмеяна
«Щас ты не звонишь»
LP Out Now!
Red Disco. Songs for russian Thanatos. A debut album by one of the most promising post-soviet bands of the last decade from Voronezh. Vinyl edition limited to 320 copies worldwide.
Read the press-release and additional info here.
In stock. Price is 24 € including insured worldwide shipping.
Президиум
«Звёздный циферблат»
7" Single
Deep and dark italo-disco groove from St. Petersburg, composed by V. Savenok. Recovered from the original 1989 tapes. Vinyl edition limited to 240 copies. Video available on YouTube.
Read the press-release and additional info here.
Sold out. It is impossible to buy.

Кофе
«Баланс»
LP
Official release of an album recorded nearly 30 years ago by the legendary Leningrad new wave band. Published in collaboration with Other Voices Records and limited to 300 copies worldwide.
Read the press-release and additional info here.
Sold out. It is impossible to buy.

Ольга Восконьян
«Автомобили»
5"×7" Flexi Postcard
Playable lo-fi postcard including a download coupon for hi-fi audiofiles. Special edition limited to 250 copies.
Download the press-release and additional info here.
Sold out. It is impossible to buy.

Bioconstructor
«Биоконструктор»
7" Single
Techno-romantic songs from 1987 taken from archive tapes by godfathers of russian synth-pop. 320 copies limited vinyl edition.
Download the press-release and additional info here.
Sold out. It is impossible to buy.

Elektroherd
«Транзисторная боссанова»
7" Single
Limited to 100 copies vinyl edition. Debut of an underground ukrainian band. Summer "acid folk" in its literal sense.
Download the press-release and additional info here.
Sold out. It is impossible to buy.

Andreuccio Torelli
«This Not Is To Game»
7" Single
Limited to 100 copies vinyl edition. Record comprises two works of previously unknown italian producer from the late 80's.
Download the press-release and additional info here.
Sold out. It is impossible to buy.