Archive for February, 2009

Grigoriy Sologub died.

February 27, 2009

The legendary St. Petersburg musician Grigoriy Grigoriyevich (Grikha) Sologub died in a local clinic on February 27, 2009 from heart failure. Born on July 19, 1961 in Leningrad, he was one of the pioneers of the new wave / punk movement in the city. He started out playing guitar, accordion and singing in ska / new wave band STRANNIYE IGRY (“Strange Games”) in which he joined his older brother Viktor in 1981 after a stint in hard rock band TEKH. POMOSHCH. They mostly used translations of French modernist poetry and chansons for lyrics (Brel, Brassens, Tzara, etc.) and combined them with inventive music that was devoid of cliches, innovative (for the Soviet scene of the era anyway) and alternately funny and sad, or bittersweet. They recorded two underground tape albums; “Metamorfozy” was issued on cassette in 1996 by Manchester Files, while their second, “Smotri V Oba” from 1986, was released on LP by Melodiya in 1988, one of the first Leningrad rock releases. Songs from both were also featured on “Red Wave” compilation 2LP. The band split up by 1986. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s STRANNIYE IGRY occasionally played reunion gigs – the most recent ones I can think of were in the Autumn of 2008. Local label Bomba-Piter works on a 3 CD set featuring STRANNIYE IGRY both studio albums and a live set from 1984. In early 1986 the Sologub brothers formed IGRY (“Games”). They were more guitar-orientated and heavier-sounding, more post-punk in approach. They toured internationally, recorded two albums in 1989 (one of which, “Krik V Zhizni,” was given a CD release in 1994 by Kontras) and mostly ceased activity in the 1990s. Both Viktor and Grigoriy Sologub played together in DOLPHINS which was one of the first hardcore bands in the city and existed between 1993 and 1995 (they released a self-titled tape on Kontras in 1996). Grigoriy also played in bands on his own. In 1992 he joined Alexandr “Alex Ogolteliy” Strogachov in ISRAIL who recorded an album which was issued on CD in 1998 – under the name NARODNOYE OPOLCHENIYE, because after a bit Strogachov gave the project the name of his most famous punk band. In 1994 Sologub joined MASHNINBAND, punk / alternative rock band with whom he recorded “Trezviye-Zliye” in 1995 (CD release in 2006 on Manchester Files) and then quit. He played in jazzcore band BONDZINSKIY for a short while – they had one song with ska bits and Sologub played it brilliantly, telling his bandmates that “no one plays ska in this city better than I do.” The alliance didn’t work out, and Sologub went to Canada to try and sober up through Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1997 he returned to musical activity becoming the new frontman of ska / pop band 2VA SAMALIOTA. That was probably one of the few projects that he was involved with which did release anything while he was actively involved (“Don Pedro, Gomez & Mamochka” CD on Zvezda Records). He was punk as fuck, a total nihilist, academically trained musician, and a true backbone of the local scene. It’s a pity that he lacked recognition in his lifetime. He always played in some of the best and most intense local outfits, and his music has been important for me throughout my life.


ZABAVY PROSTOLYUDINA – old recordings.

February 19, 2009

Z.P. live 1997

Z.P. live 1997

ZABAVY PROSTOLYUDINA (very loosely translated as “commoner’s fun”) from Pskov are what I’d term a cult band.
They started playing sometime in the mid-nineties, mostly gigged around Russian North-West – with some gigs being truly great and some being truly awful. The only official release they did was a split tape with St. Petersburg’s TRIBAL in 2002 on Caravan Records. It contained some, but not all, material of the then-recent sessions at AnTrop Studios in St. Petersburg. There are also early recordings with the participation of MARKSCHEIDER KUNST guitarist Vladimir Matushkin, a three-song CDR demo done at Dobrolyot studio, perhaps assorted live materials. There’s an animated video that Misha Safronov lovingly done.
I’d first encountered them in Summer 1997 which was when I took the photo above – they blew me away, gave me a tape (which is sadly unlistenable now, being an MK-60), and I occasionally had the pleasure of keeping in touch with them.
The band has never widely popular, largely due to lack of gigs and releases, but there was a small core of enthusiasts who appreciated their poetic lyrics, idiosyncratic, angular mix of post punk, indie, Russian rock, jazzcore and alternative music (which unfortunately led to some misguided experiments with rap-metal), and the overall charisma. There are faithful who still believe that ZABAVY PROSTOLYUDINA will one day forget about their modesty and laziness and start gigging again, or that at least their old songs will be reissued one of these days. There were rumours to that effect last year – also of the band’s continued existence, but, well, perhaps with the recession the CD won’t materialise after all…
Misha Safronov’s animated video for “Spichechnykh Korobkov Grokhotom”
Early recordings
Demo part 1
Demo part 2