From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Grazhdanskaya Oborona or Gr.Ob. (Russian:
Гражданская Оборона, Гр. Об.) is one of the earliest and most famous Russian
punk bands. The name of the band can be translated from Russian as "The
Civil Defence" (but "grob" also translates as "coffin").
The band was created by a young Soviet
dissident Egor Letov in December of 1984. At that point, Russian underground
music was close to its peak. Rock bands such as Aquarium, Mashina Vremeni
(Time Machine), and Kino were enourmously popular; however, punk rock as
a genre was new to Soviet underground musical scene. Gr.Ob. were the ones
to fill this vacant niche, and now maintains a huge army of fans, admirers,
and followers. It inspired hundreds of subsequent Soviet and then Russian
Up to the collapse of the USSR, Gr.Ob
was often viewed as an anti-Soviet band. In his deeply symbolic lyrics,
Letov often spoke against militarism, dictatorship, the Soviet system,
the war in Afghanistan, etc. That was the reason why the band was censored
and prohibited. Letov and his bandmates spent years in hiding, recording
songs in kitchens and cellars of their friends' flats. Despite heavy censorship,
the band played on several rock-festivals (notably its premire in Novosibirsk
in 1987, where it was considered a sensation).
Gr.Ob.'s sound mainly consists of
distorted electric guitars, simple bass lines, and Letov's deep, energetic
Russian punk, songs at one time passed
from tape copy to tape copy by hand (magnitizdat). Many modern-day artists
such as Chizh, Vopli Vidoplyasova, Yegor Letov, and Smyslovye Galucinacii
recorded a terrific tribute album covering GrOb's songs.
Industrial music in Russia
A short review
I know nothing about any Russian
industrial projects from the 70es. Maybe some existed. Industrial perfomances
weren't possible at that time. Distribution (if any) was limited to a tiny
circle of people - the main part of the audience for the indepedent music
didn't go beyond straight rock'n'roll/hard rock. And the western industrial
music was totally unknown in Russia back then.
The earliest russian "industrial"
recording that I heard was Center "Odnokomnatnaya Kvartira" ("One-Room
Flat", 1983). It was made in a minimalistic electronic style. By a strange
coincidence, this album was very close to experiments conducted at the
same time by the English Psychic TV ("Force Thee Hand Ov Chance", "Dream
Less Sweet", "A Pagan Day"). It is very doubtful that musicians from the
Russian "Center" heard the new English band, totally unknown in Russia.
Some of the later Center's albums ("Dityatya" and "Ochischenie") have been
made in harder style and contain elements of EBM and "industrial-disco"
close to Cabaret Voltaire's "Silent Command" and "The Crackdown".
1985 saw the founding of a band called
Notchnoy Prospekt ("Night Avenue"). It started as "techno-pop" band but
soon progressed to "classic-industrial" in the Throbbing Gristle's vein
(especially such TG's albusms as "20 Jazz Funk Greats" and "Greatest Hits").
Most significant NP's albums are "Fisiki" ("Physicists"), "Demokratiya
i Disciplina" ("Democracy & Discipline") and "Kisloty" ("Acids"). All
are from 1986-88.
Nearly in same time Leningrad-based
avant-garde composer Sergey Kuryokhin assembled performance-project Pop-Mechanics
that was very close to industrial aesthetics. Some PM's recordings and
Kuryokhin's solo albums recorded in 80th might be called "classics of russian
"industrial". I especially recommend "Narod Gulyaet" ("People are Festive/Gathering")
and "Nasekomaya Kul'tura" ("Insect Culture"). Both were recorded in 1987.
First of them contains "ambient" fragments and elements of "musique concrete".
Second has been recorded jointly with a techno-band Novye Compozitory,
has been built with "cut-up" technics and combines "techno-minimalism"
with "musique concrete".
At the same time the developement
of Siberian industrial scene had began. From 1988 till 1990 in the city
of Omsk Egor Letov and Dmitry Ryabinov (Kuzya Uo), better known through
their punk project Grazhdanskaya Oborona, recorded a series of albums under
the name "Communism". There were about 15 volumes. The project was oriented
towards "musique concrete". It reached a veritable industrial aphotheosis
with albums "Igra v Samoletiki pod Krovat'yu" ("A Game with Little Planes
under a Bed") and "Satanism" (both recorded in 1989). They combine "guitar
noise", prerecorded sounds and noises, self-made percussions and electronic
noises. Some projects related to Grazhdanskaya Oborona and Letov's tape-label
GrOb Records worked with similar experiments. For example Oleg Sudakov
(aka Manhagher) also experimented with "musique concrete" and recorded
under the name "Tsyganyata Ih Ya S Illicha" (Gypsie Children and I from
Illich) two albums "Gaubitsy Leytenanta Garuby" ("Lieutenant Garuba's Howitzers"
- 1989) and "Arjuna-Drive" (1990). His own term for his music was
"melodical thinking". Also, a Novosibirsk-based band Promyshlennaya Arkhitektura
recorded some albums (for example "Lyubov' i Tekhnologiya" ("Love &
Technology") - 1988) close in sound and aesthetics to the earliest EBM
bands. In 1989 Yana
Dyaghileva with participation
of Egor Letov recorded albums "Anhedonia" and "Domoy" ("Homeward") which
are maybe the best examples of a combination of "percussion industrial"
and "guitar noise" in Russia.
Another one "industrial" center was
and is the city of Izhevsk. In the end of the 80es there appeared a band
Stuk Bambuka V 11 Chasov ("Bamboo knocks at 11 o'clock"). It played "ambient"
with percussion and female singer, and sounded a little bit similar to
The Legendary Pink Dots. In 1991 they released their first album "Legkoe
Delo Kholod" ("Cold's Easy Buisines") with a TV-hit "La Cheval De Ma Vie".
In the same time another two debute releases appeared - "Vogel" by SD and
"Oracle" by Alexandr Yuminov's project "Traviatta" (both are soundracks
for self-made movies shot in aesthetics of "industrial noise"). In a short
time, Yuminov recorded another two soundtracks - "Ontologiya Ritual'noy
Zhizni" ("An Ontology of a Rithual Life") and "Paleovosit".
In the 90es, the Russian industrial
music had begun to spread far and wide. Nowadays we have here nearly all
musical styles. Some recomended bands: In Izhevsk - Samtsy Dronta (noise,
dark-wave), Birdwood (ambient), Yuka (ambient), Virgo Intacta (ethno-ambient),
Lancer (EBM), Plastica (EBM); In Moscow - Notchnoy Prospect (ambient, guitar-noise),
Zoied (EBM, dark-wave), Zima 23 (EBM, noise), Cyclotimia (dark-wave), Reutoff
(dark-wave), Alexandr Kopeikin (dark-ambient), Mikhail Atom (dark-ambient)
In Petersburg - Lebedev-Frontov (noise), Zga (musique concrete/RIO); In
Novosibirsk - Nuclear Los (percussion industrial, ambient); In Saratov
- DMT (rhythm&noise), Heavenly Legal Holland (noise, ambient, dark-folk),
Brutal Abbeizer (noise); In Rostov-on-Don - Figura (ambient, IDM), Solnetchnaya
Sol (noise); In Arkhangelsk - Moon Far Away (dark-wave), 9 Myurtvyh Bolgar