Review by: Roland Bruynesteyn
Album assigned by: Alex Alex
“Интеркосмос” – After a gushing wind we get a Peter Gunn inspired vamp, then we get some synthetic vibes and some synthesizer notes. Then a robotic voice, presumably in Russian. Not really singing, but it sounds like he’s recounting his days’ events, with a strong, warning, undertone. The Peter Gunn theme ties it together nicely. Some guitar is added, with some chord based jamming and an almost Gilmourian tone. When the Peter Gunn theme stops it becomes quieter, with some (acoustic?) guitar and some kind of synthesized flute. A female joins in some kind of dialogue, some panic, some bees being slaughtered, song over. Not bad!
I think “Баллада О Межпланетной Любви” starts close to the 5.30 mark, nicely acoustic before the band joins in. This song is a strange mix of the Nirvana esthetic (loud and quiet passages) with some Metallica-style Cossack singing. The instrumental passages are nice, but meander a bit. Guitar solo is good, but the music during the solo sounds a bit sluggish.
Presumably, “Предупреждение Посланца Вселенского Разума” starts around 11.55 with some drunk yelling and a glass breaking. A synthesizer loop, innocent of course, but also a bit simple. The drums join in and some rap style singing, again strongy urging you to do something, or so it seems. Other voices join in, sounding somewhat processed (or it’s just the local dialect and tone of voice in Alex Alex’ hometown). The repetitive melodies recall some Krautrock. The synthesizer figure returns, with some jazzy drumming, the calling voice and a guitar being dismembered. A hint of Talking Heads in an aggressive mood, perhaps.
At 15.50 “Лягва” starts with dialogue again. This could very well be a storytelling concept album, a la The Wall. Some frantic drumming and some call and response “singing”. The song, and especially the guitar work, sound strangely new wavish, apart from the drumming. The title is repeated over and over again.
Around 18.54 some more dialogue, as a prelude to “Студенческая Межзвездная”. Start is almost rednecky ZZ Top, but the singing definitely is not, sounding more like a (good) Clash song off London calling.
21.45, new song, “Любовь Инженера” starts with a simple bass figure. Rather like the Talking Heads again (think Naive Melody), apart from the mock Gothic singing. Sounds like a real organ, nice!
Around 26.30 “Jurassic Park” starts, Western lettering for a change. The song DOES indeed sound like it could appear in a weird Western.
27.36 “Укрблюз”, a modest epic, with some real saxophone playing around the 31 minute mark (or 2,5 minute mark, actually).
“Чрезвычайное Происшествие” starts around 32.10. Totally different voice, Miss Piggy, not very pleasing to the ears. Other people start protesting as well, by the sound of it. Very annoying piece of theatrical music that does not work for me AT ALL.
Around 35.50 “Марш Косморазведчиков” starts, and it better be a 12 minute epic, or I will have completely misconstrued the different song lengths. Another ZZ Top style riff to start with. Not original, but it works. Singing again new wavish, and during the singing parts the music is dramatically different as well. The ZZ Top riff does return a few times however.
Around 39.25 the song seems to finish, so I consider the rest a hidden bonus track. Acoustic guitars with some cymbal heavy drumming, sounding turning into a sitar sometimes. The serious singing, intoning a warning again, sort of detracts from the quiet parts of the music. Electric guitars join in, closely following the bass lines. Next verse, some background vocals are added, yelling the same lyrics. It sounds a bit more balanced. Third verse they disappear again, but a guitar replaces the backing vocals. Final guitar figure is repeated ad infinitum, when it slows down a bit.
What to make of it? I could not get used to the low vocals, that sounded too much like a solo Gregorian chanter for my taste. Not understanding the lyrics does not help either. The music however is quite varied, played professionally and somehow strangely appealing. The artists I compared it with in my mind (Clash, Krautrock, Nirvana, Metallica, Talking Heads, ZZ Top) are all a lot older, so originality is not really a factor here, apart from the singing (that fails to my ears).
But then I think giving a very weird voice to the classics nicely summarizes Alex Alex’ life (or at least the role he plays in this group)!