I’m not entirely sure why I even bother translating this review into English. Nightlife Of Our Books (Ночная Жизнь Наших Книг) is such a uniquely Russian project that hardly any non-Russian speaker would be able to even remotely enjoy their music. It’s hardcore poetry, not even pretending to be singing or rap, combined with ambient strings and piano with gentle but firm drums and occasional electronic samples (a very strange direction that quite a few electronica bands in ex-USSR are taking and in which NOOB to my knowledge have advanced the most). It’s just that I have some sort of sentimental connection with this group of young people, I sincerely believe in what they do and want their music to get as much exposure as possible. No, it is not trip-hop, but as long as it’s being classified as such due to some purely formal criteria, I’ll be happy to write about it, for it makes me feel like some sort of adventurous explorer. And I think that their music is full of desire to create for the sake of creating, but at the same time it has none of that self-centered don’t-give-a-fuck attitude towards listeners that most of the experimental electronica tends to show. NOOB clearly understand just how does their music sound, they’re gentle with it but, even compared to their debut release they’re almost rid of that unnecessary shyness in choosing the means of getting their material to the listeners. Life Is – is a very fitting title for the collective’s sophomore release. They felt the firm ground underneath their feet, they got some support from the listeners, and now they are breathing in deeply, straightening their wings and leaving the tight nest of teenage angst and naive maximalism which were breaking through here and there in the debut just like pubescent acne. There is much less self-digging and dark confined despair, but they aren’t trying to look away from everyday problems, which are a part of this very life, that is. And while NOOB‘s “love songs” are still more like the ideas of love (“Jim’s Little Cafe”, “To Part”) than its real life incarnations (and thank god for that), their social-oriented songs reflect the grown-up anger and readiness to fight those forces that seem so overpowering earlier. As far as technical side goes, the band is also on the right path. If their debut drew my attention mostly with the uniqueness of the concept, Life Is shows that NOOB is not “poetry with musical accompaniment”, but an actual music collective able to create well-balanced compositions where poetry has the lead, sure, but not more than vocals in any decent band that has a lead singer, and can step back if a song requires so. Wonderful “To Decide” is a good example, the words here are just another instrument in creating the needed atmosphere, and strings and piano are pushing their way up until the amazingly unexpected electronic finale. Or “To Stay” – a great ambient track, which would probably sound just as good without any vocals. And that might be my wish for NOOB‘s upcoming works, – I think that they proved their ability to write deep intelligent poetry and that they have enough skills to create a concept album (Life Is undoubtedly is one), so instrumental tracks would maybe help to draw some attention to the just the music side of their work without hurting the integrity of their style.
Here, challenge yourself, download their album, listen to it and tell me what you think.
personal favs: “To Decide”, “To Stay”, “[They Are] Playing”