I think it’s time to go back to my roots and start talking about Russian* trip-hop, this ever-developing but still staying deep underground movement. I’m not sure just how representative is Ru Trip Community vol.1, but it does what a good compilation is supposed to do – make its listener wonder. Even though, frankly speaking, I’m not eager to start actively seeking out scattered all over Russian internet works by contributing artists (out of 20 tracks only a handful of bands actually made me want to check them out more closely), nonetheless, the album shows that Russian trip-hop does exist, is very diverse and isn’t afraid to be different. Of course, influences are quite noticeable. Kamio basically “russifies” Tricky, down to heavy drum work and raspy vocals with its “Аутофобия” (“Auto-phobia”)(and, I must admit, isn’t doing too bad of a job). But most of the tracks do deliver enough individuality to provide a good impression of what kind of animal “Russian trip-hop” is. Female vocals aren’t as predominant as a trip-hop fan is used to, maybe due to wider popularity of hip-hop in ex-USSR countries and trip-hop bands load their songs with rapping dudes trying to get into the scene (I’m just speculating here, of course). Lyrics tend to be as abstract as they can get, sometimes deliberately so, to the point of being silly, but sometimes intriguingly complex. Many songs could easily do without any vocals at all, for most (if not all) tracks have very solid instrumentations and beats. Therefore I liked tracks where vocals do play an essential part, semantically as well as musically (“Cнегири” (“Bullfinch”) by Der NERV is a good example), or are non-existent (like PunDub Bear‘s “Skynet” with a dope guitar loop) There is a couple of songs with English singing (I’m actually pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t more), and my advise to Melatonin‘s (track “Downtrodden”) vocalist would be to switch back to her native language, because Russian accent is only cute in Hollywood movies, in a trip-hop song it sounds awkward and funny. On the other hand, Stemvelta (“Windowsight Scares Me”), by dimming vocals (and I loved the singer’s voice) and layering its sound with industrial and euro-dance infusions achieves just the right effect. I’m giving my beloved readers an exclusive chance to download the sampler and make their own conclusions, I personally am looking forward to vol.2.
*By ‘Russian’ I mean not necessarily ‘from Russia’, but also whatever is performed in Russian language, just because ‘Russian-speaking trip-hop’ sounds really awkward.
R.I.Y.L. abstract hip-hop, abandoned buildings
personal favs: Поводки нетерпения (Leashes of Impatience) – “Моя защита” (“My Protection”), Der NERV – “Снегири”(“Bullfinch”), Stemvelta – “Windowsight Scares Me”