InRussia

Music

Snow Honey

Unique sound and imagery from an obscure Izhevsk band.

The Soviet band “Stuk Bambuka v XI Chasov” (Bamboo Sound at 11 o’clock) formed in Izhevsk in the late 1980s, and was the forerunner for such genres as trip-hop and ambient. Located in the country’s Western Urals, the industrial city of Izhevsk is an unlikely source for collectives with unconventional musical ideas, especially during the final years of the USSR and the beginning of perestroika. 

The band began as a trio: Dmitry Nosov, Vasiliy Agafonov and Kostya Bagaev. The young musicians collected sounds and noises, trying to combine them into a series of images and associations. Magnetic tape hisses, noises from primitive Soviet electronics, feedback and other non-musical elements became the building blocks of their unique sound. 

Despite a lack of musical education, the band members began creating under the influence of music by Throbbing Gristle and Brian Eno and works of Julio Cortázar, Franz Kafka and Kōbō Abe. Soon they were joined by Tatyana Erokhina, an academically trained singer who became the voice of the band. Her alienated and somber vocals were perfect for the abstract yet anxious lyrics that accompanied the band’s psychedelic ambient sound.

Their first and only full-length album, Cold Is an Easy Thing, relates to the mood of the compositions and the musicians themselves during the recording. “The band found itself in a situation in which like charges gravitated toward each other, defying laws of physics,” recalls Tatyana Erokhina. “Had everything been fine at the time, we would’ve been unable to achieve something like that. Anxiety, confusion, the atmosphere of an industrial town and energetic black holes reigned over us back then.”

Guided by the “technical impossibility of self-expression” the band also made music videos for their songs. Shot on color film and edited by hand, the clip presented here consists of rhythmically aligned abstract imaginary and features vocalist Tatyana Erokhina. The collective disbanded soon after the album’s release.