We’re 2 chapters deep into translation of Alexander Kushnir’s book “100 Tape Albums of Soviet Rock” and its time for some reflection. Let us reflect on the spirit of experimentation and electronic music in USSR / Soviet Union for a moment.
The arrival of Beatles (love ’em or hate ’em) signaled the way around such inconveniences as lack of access to professional recording studios or poor/low-quality music gear. Its highly unlikely that any Soviet rock musicians were aware of Meet the Residents by the time that that album came out, but surely more than a few heard Revolution No. 9 and this is when tape loops came to be seen as an instrument of liberation.
The relationship between officials and artists in Soviet Union was always an uneasy/uneven one – where 1910s and 1920s signaled the mass arrival and acceptance of futurists/poets/visionaries, the wave of brutal crackdowns followed by 1930s/1940s. And by the 60s/70s (the so-called “thaw period”) some of the artistic freedom came back – while not a full-blown acceptance of Western ideals just yet, it allowed enough people to experiment to the point where electronic/psychedelic music started seeping into the mainstream.
Yes, mainstream – we’re talking animation (Alice, Kontakt, The Mystery of the Third Planet), movies (Siberiade, Stalker) and probably even fashion. By the late 70s the collision of punk/post-punk, psychedelia and the space age battles led to electronic music becoming somewhat of a weapon/communication device with the West.
To wit – a playlist of albums/songs to go along with chapters 1 + 2 of 100 Tapes: