Mstation Pop etc Commentary, Reviews Valid RSS pre Dec 04 reviews are here

Fri, 02 Mar 2007

From Russia with love and beats

I'll continue the theme of Eastern music while people and things of interest keep popping up. The other night I was at a club called Ausland in Berlin where the Russian band Volga were due to play. Showtime was supposedly around 10pm but the crowd knew better and didn't roll in until after 11 and pretty soon we had some music. One of the club owners said the lateness thing was a problem in Berlin in that, quite often, people wanted to start at 1 or 2am - no problem for partyers but a problem when you're trying to attract ordinary people with money in their pockets who have jobs to go to the next day.

There was a big Russian and Ukranian presence at the gig - sleekly groomed businessmen with pretty women and a more alternative-looking crowd with interesting hats and the like. There is somehow an air of the mysterious and exotic about them and maybe also at this gig there is a celebration of Rodena - of Motherland, and of that thing we know so little about in the west - Russianness - that thing that exists at the end of a moderately straight line between Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Putin. A place (in our minds) of stoic peasants and louche party-girls, of endless wilderness, of criminal-oligarchs, and of that perfectly ordinary and pleasant person standing just over there.

The band itself is no cookie-cutter outfit either - in its looks or in its music. The singer is an ample woman with short black hair and a screeling voice which goes between soft and nursery-like and a wailing tribal screech which could summon the warriors or the demons from the wooded areas at the edge of town. What she was singing exactly, I had no idea, as it was in Russian.

The totality of the sound includes machine beats and sampling from a Mac laptop, percussion and an interesting stringed instrument, a pair of CD DJ decks and an abundance of effects pedals which were used on most everything. Sometimes there would be a ballad-like song but maybe with a certain ironic wryness about it and then there would be something with pounding beats which would set the dancers off into little individual celebrations. The girls were especially good at this - no cookie-cutter dancing!

One such, a very tall blonde with the beauty of a goddess comes from the Ukraine and was brought up in Southern Germany. In her movements, in her fineness, and in her mystery and her pride there is a story of the whole gig.

With any luck, on the podcast page, will be a track from Volga. (thunderfinger)
Volga - band website
Lollipop Shop -German Label
Lumberton Trading - English Label

[] permanent link