Rejuvenating Lost Sounds

Baran Records excavates Russia’s musical legacy.

For a little over seven years, Dresden-based label Baran Records has been releasing the music of Soviet underground outsiders and off-the-radar contemporary Russian artists. A notable name from the past is Ukrainian composer Vadim Khrapachev, who wrote and performed music for the film “Flights in Dreams and Reality” (1982) using the EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer. The seven-inch vinyl has two tracks from the movie and is distributed via Baran’s online store – strictly one copy per customer.

Another curious seven-inch vinyl to emerge from Baran Records is by the Soviet techno-pop group Bioconstructor. Songs were taken from the original 1987 tapes “Tantsi po video” (Dancing on video) and remastered.  

“Balans” (Balance), the undeservingly forgotten 1986 album of the year by Soviet new-wave band Kofe, was released for the first time on vinyl in 2013. The original album was produced by Leningrad-born Alexey Vishnya, famous for producing dozens of prominent Soviet rock bands such as Kino, Akvaruim, Alisa and AVIA. The album’s song “Zero” even hit national Soviet television shows. An example of late-Soviet synth-pop sound, the “Balans” LP is now available in a limited edition with new cover art that mimics Russian suprematist paintings.

The label doesn't strictly select artists from the past. “Nesmeyana” (Princess-who-never-laughs), a modern underground duo from Voronezh, also fell onto their radar. Led by digital artist and composer Alexandr Selyeznyov and singer Victoria Shikova, the band was active for six years during which time Nesmeyana produced seven self-released albums – sharing the mp3 files at no charge. Their debut album “Shaz ti ne zvonish” (Now you don't call) was released digitally in 2009, but has now been completely remastered and is available as an LP.

Nesmeyana's chilling songs hark back to the post-perestroika epoch, a period of decay and deformation. Their melancholy lyrics are about crime, prostitution, drug abuse, poverty and the war in Afghanistan – all augmented by gloomy synths and lo-fi drums. “Shaz ti ne zvonish” is a peculiar artifact that sincerely imitates the spirit of the 1980s. 

By invoking the “finders-keepers” rule, Baran Records restores lost musical documents, imbuing them with relevance once again or for the first time ever.