пятница, 4 февраля 2022 г.

Nervöse Leute — Retrowelle (2022)

 


Hi everyone, we're happy to announce that Nervöse Leute have reunited in an original lineup to release an EP "Retrowelle".

This is indeed a retrowave EP with gentle minimal synth sound. Pure 80's flavor! All music has been written by Vladimir Laznev, and I picked and mixed the samples and also shot a cover picture.

The picture was taken in Petrozavodsk, one of the most depressing cities I ever visited.

But Nervöse Leute has always had a creepy part, and this time all the creepy stuff comes from the samples I used. Guess you know a meme about "I May Not Know My Flowers", that's how the title track's called, and you may know the funny movie "The Gay Deceivers" from which it comes from, but the creepy part is that in Russia you gotta be really careful when joking about gays. Certainly you may hurt their feelings, but there's also notorios "Gay Propaganda Law" oficially banning any coverage of the topic. To be fair, there's nothing in the samples which could be considered as propaganda: a joke's a joke. But if you know the origin of this joke, you sort of know the subtext and context, and you're, like: "Yeah it's something which may be banned in here, alright".

Alright, we're moving on. The second track also features creepy samples. "Why Tragedy in My Life?" is a title of an old YouTube video where an old lad tells and comments on the story from The Bible and discusses the topic of tragedy as part of God's Providnece. "God permits tragedy to get your attention", the old guy says. And here comes the creepy part: this is Edarem himself, a musthave in any "Top Creepy Old School YouTubers" list. Edarem was condemned for a really tough crime, and he was prohibited to use Internet, but he did use it to publish his videos, and it ended in second inprisonment; so he died in a prison hospital quite soon after that. He's creepy and what he says is creepy: someone has to die just to make me "pay attention" to God? No, thank you, sir.

The third track is titled "You Look Depressed", the samples were taken from some tape from the 90's with lessons of English. Nervöse Leute have always been keen on using analogue samples, tapes, etc., and this is the case. The thing is that overall mood of the tape is kind of blaming the listener for being a homebody, for being non-social and depressed as if it's a bad thing. You gotta go out, you gotta watch TV to be "up to date", you gotta meet people you dislike just to remain a normal guy in their eyes. Actually, it's about shaming of depression and other psychiatric issues.

The final track has shortwave (Nervöse Leute's hobby horse) samples of a radio show discussing Covid-19 and Omicron in general. It's just the feature of the time. We're having disastrous numbers of Covid victims here in Russia, kids get sick and die, children's hospitals have no vacant places, etc. It's horrorful when you look at the amount of victims of the pandemic. 

Well, we're proud of our work, I must admit. Nervöse Leute change, but remain truthful to their ideology. Let's see if we go on exploring creepy terrotories.

Check out the EP here: 


Stay tuned!

Sincerely yours,
John "Grey Lenses" Grey

четверг, 13 января 2022 г.

Grey Lenses — Issues of Nihilism (2022)

 

Cover by Pavel Chainichkov

Hi everyone, it's 2022 and we're still on the go, which is quite amusing, after all.

This time I'm happy to present you my latest and probably last solo laptop noise LP record titles "Issues of Nihilism".

It's another soundtrack for a book, just like I've been doing for last six years annually.

This particular record is more noisy, sometimes it tries to sound like pure Japenese harsh noise, sometimes it sounds calmer, but all in all, it's a quirky album.

Among other sources of inspiration, I thought a lot about Laibach this time, which found its incarnation in tracks like "We Rise" or "Ein Übergang".

The last one was taken from Nietzsche's Zarathustra, "the man is the most gruesame beast", etc.

There's also Dostoevsky's "Devils" ("Canton of Uri", i.e. suicide, or "The Devil") among sources of inspiration.

Guess I ain't got much to add. The release is pretty much peculiar for me. Currently I got no certain plans or something. Life changes, you know. Things change. So let's see.

But stay tuned, maybe something else would occur. And hope you like this effort.

Sincerely yours,

John "Grey Lenses" Grey

четверг, 2 сентября 2021 г.

The Colourful Pictures — Distance

 

 

Hi everyone, this time I'm presenting you another, and probably last if not at all, then in a row of, release of "The Colourful Pictures".

It's titled "Distance" and it sounds sort of no wave-ish, mostly due to passionate bass played by Artyom Danilovsky who joined our weekly sessions.

I said it may be the last record because it appeared to be our final session; I've moved, and re-listened to it from a distance, that's why I titled the record "Distance".

Dmitry Mulganov played drums and recorded the session, I played synth, mixed and provided a cover image. This picture was taken in Yekaterinburg, one of the prettiest cities I've seen.

Well, let's see what the future brings. I believe at least some of our projects would go on, but currently it's sort of total hiatus here for me.

Anyway, stay tuned and check for updates from time to time.

Hope you'll enjoy the record:

 

Sincerely yours,

John "Grey Lenses" Grey

понедельник, 2 августа 2021 г.

The Colourful Pictures — What's That Noise? (2021)

 

Hi everyone, today I'm glad to present you another LP by The Colourful Pictures, titled "What's That Noise?".

This time it's a collaboration with a trumpet player who preferred to remain anonymous. I played synth and provided noises and Dmitry Mulganov who picked the album title and made a cover design suggestion, played drums.

Once again as in case of The Colourful Pictures, this is a free improv record of what we call a sonic meditation. As far as I can't know for sure what was on the mind of my colleagues, I'll speak for myself.

As you may know, my other project, Nervöse Leute, was put on hiatus after releasing the latest record "I Play the Music - You Dance" because I felt being done with field recording and analogue samples, I simply couldn't find anything worth attention, as if I've already recorded all the sources I ever wanted.

But some ideas remained, and I was messing with putting them on the go by different means, by using different sonic strategies, and The Colourful Pictures seemed perfect for it.

For instance, the track "Ravenous" was initially designed to be Nervöse Leute track dedicated to Coil, and I managed to create digital eerie noise somewhat similar to early Coil's samples.

"Are You Enjoying?", probably the most interesting track on this LP, was also initially designed for Nervöse Leute. There I was trying to create Cabaret Voltaire-esque synth noise. Also, this track was supposed to refer to Killing Joke-like "thickness" of sound.

Some tracks on this record were made out of findings for Grey Lenses, my solo project: my parts from "Youth Restored", "We Are Fossils", "Incompleteness of Life" and "Happiness of Sadness" could fit a new Grey Lenses album.

For example, "Youth Restored" was inspired by the same novel by Mikhail Zoshchenko, great Russian Modernist writer. "We Are Fossils" was a dreamy idea of what if Depeche Mode started to make noise music.

All in all, this is just about noise; I guess the main mood of the album is made by the trumpet. Hope you like such sound!

Check the record:

 

Stay tuned!

Sincerely yours,

John "Grey Lenses" Grey

понедельник, 21 июня 2021 г.

The Colourful Pictures — Urbi et Orbi (2021)

 


Hi everyone, today I'm presenting you our latest release, "Urbi et Orbi' by The Colourful Pictures.

This record is a free improv session dedicated to Ancient Rome. I provided synths, vocals, did mastering and made cover design for it; Snowbringer provided synths and recorded the session, and Dmitry Mulganov played live acoustic drums.

Mostly it's noise with live drums, sometimes there are more ambient-filled sections. Two tracks feature vocals, De Tranquillitate and The Enchiridion include reading of these works (fragments).

This Heat's S.P.Q.R. slogan "We are all Romans", as much as my interest to Stoic philosophy, led to thinking about fundamental core of civilization, established by Romans. We owe to them, we owe to them too much, I must admit, and it was sort of musical meditation (in a Roman way, not in an oriental way) about that.

You may check it out right here:


Stay tuned for new updates!

Sincerely yours,
John "Grey Lenses" Grey

четверг, 4 марта 2021 г.

The Colourful Pictures — Wittgenstein Wittgenstein (2021)

 

Hi everyone, today we're presenting you latest album by The Colourful Pictures. The project goes on reflecting on famous scholars, and this time the record deals with ideas and image of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

The problems of language studied by Wittgenstein inspired us to create this sonic piece, divided into 2 parts named after Wittgenstein's most famous works: Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations.

Basically, we treated this ideas like the idea of 'power of language' (Tractatus) and the idea of 'weakness of language'.

Sonically, this album contains several layers of ambient and laptop noise created by Snowbringer and me, live bass guitar, kalimba and flute by Mikhail Alekseev who also provided drum programming, and slight and actually interrupting the wholesome structure pieces of acousting guitar (sometimes barely heard) played by Alexey Pavlov.

There are also a couple of jokes: a musical phrase reminding of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus, and a sample of Siri (as an example of artificial speech).

We found this record extremely 'inconvenient' (there are 2 different levels of sound: 'harsh' level and 'musical' level, and the latter one divides into 'conventional' part and 'irrelevant' part) yet coherent to Wittenstein's views in its (d/r)evolution. I mean, we found the language itself both, at the same time mighty and useless. This is sort of total ambivalence which governs current cultural situation. Therefore, the record is also totally up to date.

We'd also like to thank Crank Playthings experimental podcast from New Zealand who played out track in a recent show, that was a real honor for us to be played in the same show with Lackthrow :)

Check the record, and hope you like it!

 

Sincerely yours,

John "Grey Lenses" Grey

вторник, 2 февраля 2021 г.

Лосины Маршала Потемкина — Зинаида Миркина в ее лучшие годы (2020)

 

Hi everyone, today I'd like to present you latest LP by Лосины Маршала Потемкина. It's titled "Зинаида Миркина в ее лучшие годы" (Zinaida Mirkina in Her Best Years).

The fun thing is that "best years" of Zinaida spent in total obscurity, she was a religious poet who couldn't be published in USSR, so first issues of her books were released only in 1990s, when it was anyway too late (she was 65 years old at the moment).

So I thought it's actually about us, we're not receiving anything at all at time, we have to wait for so long to get something which is never enough.

The cover picture was taken by our bass player Mikhail Alekseev in Belarus, and it's actually a reference to famous picture Alyonushka.

Switching to the sound, I got to admit not much has changed, it's still post-punk based songs with rather witty lyrics.

We begin with "Я не могу сказать, где твои деньги" ("I Can't Tell You Where's Your Money"), it's one of the earliest songs, first recorded in 2010, rerecorded in 2011, and finally remade as post-punk track in 2020. It features synths, metal percussion and a fine guitar riff. The lyrics touch upon topics of alcoholism in Russia.

Next goes "Бычьи цепни" ("Beef Tapeworms"), a story about parasites and intoxication, a metaphoric idea which is connected with Nick Drake's "Parasite", from one hand, and nodds to The Fall's bass sound in musical part. Lyrics also have reference to "Krvava Gruda - Plodna Zemlja" by Laibach (Bloody ground - fertile soil). Our favourite artist Vasily Shulzhenko was also mentioned (Life is a Shulzhenko's picture). And another reference is to notorious "You got AIDS" from "Family Guy" (You get beef tapeworms, yeeeah!).

Then we have "Отпуск ради отпуска" ("A Vacation for Vacation's Sake"), a sardonic story of a Russian employee who has to depart for vacation (otherwise he'd be forced to keep working). It also has a reference to David Lynch's "Eraserhead" ("I'm on Vacation"), touches upon topics of suicide (Strozsek is mentioned, see also a reference to Ian Curtis), isolation, poverty ("I got enough money to afford one lemon candy"), about office work as a new form of slavery ("A man is born to work at the office / He's not as free as his favourite kitty"), which is also strongly connected with early topics of Swans' lyrics (like "Power for Power's sake", "Money is flesh", etc.).

The fourth track is titled "Новый год в СИЗО" ("A New Year at Pretrial Detention Centre"). It's purely social, because many Russians, unfortunately, have an experience of being put in such centres. Musically, it has a reference to Neubauten's "U-Haft Muzak" (metal percussion in the end, which resonates with fireworks sound). The song begins with a sample by a great actor Leonid Kanevsky saying "Aah it's such a place no-one wants to leave" taken from famous and memetic show "Следствие вели", a crime show about well-known Soviet mass murderers. The song also features a Russian reversal, and a panic attack inside.

Then we have a song about workout which is titled Воркаут (Workout). It depicts sort of intellectual workout of memory training, claiming "How many quotes of the great men can remember your brain?", which is quite post-modern approach when we think in quotes and actually speak not our own words, but constantly repeating, quoting someone else's words. Lyrically, there's a mentioning of epoche, Husserl and reductionism, as well as one of the first Soviet pranks (Дед ИВЦ). The song ends with pictures of hospital, novocaine, ambulance, gleet, etc.

Then we have a song "Удачный день" ("A Lucky Day") which is actually a narrated story also in The Fall's spirit, about a guy who saw a man resembling famous maniac (and an occasional poet) Mukhankin and began to spy at him. All the way long, Ivolgin's laughter can be heard — which refers to Dostoevsky's character from "The Idiot" and a character from notorious Russian movies "Peculiarities of the National Fishing". Bela Lugosi and "Bride of the Monster" are also mentioned. Of course, the narrator underlines that "Bela Lugosi's dead" (we all remember Bauhaus). Closer to the end of the story, a suspicious man fights the narrator, but stray dogs arrive like Deus ex Machina and save him by biting the suspicious man to death: the narrator admits that it's similar to Ivan Karamazov's story from Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov". In the end the narrator goes back home happily boasting that it's "Such a lucky day", and "Our debt's been payed, and the light is ours" — another reference to Laibach (Hostnik's suicide note / Apologija Laibach song).

Then goes a weird psychedelic song "Гусь Хрустальный" (Gus-Khrustalny), about a town in Russia which mythically mocks (in our song) Tupelo from Nick Cave's song: The sun doesn't rise in Gus-Khrustalny, the birds don't fly in Gus-Khrustalny. No-one knows the exact site of the town, no-one can guarantee that the post will be delievered there, no-one knows about famous people from this town, it's a dark and criminally dangerous place. "Napoleon said we don't need this town", which echoes with radio-like speech that Gus-Khrustalny "is not kind of town we need because it wouldn't help us to replace SWIFT". In the end the narrator confesses he'd move to Gus-Khrustalny to "die", and his scream drowns in maliciously sounding guitar effects.

Then we have a song "Кисель" ("Kissel", Russian national soft drink), it's a studio remake of 2013 song, I already told you its story, so we move along.

Next song is called "Чумной доктор" ("The Plague Doctor"), which refers to SCP, pandemic (though it was written way before the Covid), and shows the viewpoint of a man whose "business" is to "heal". He appears to be a sensitive guy taking care of prostitutes, wounded birds, lost dogs etc., but shows a great arrogance claiming "I'm better than Brodsky, and Pakhom's better than Brodsky, and Hölderlin's better too". Musically the guitar riff remind of Joy Division's "A Means to an End", lyrically it has references to Russian rap and pop music, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky's The Devils.

The final track is titled "Кевларом" ("By the Kevlar"), where kevlar is a metaphor of mental "armour" we put on ourselves. It has a piano part played by our collaborator Andrew Hangover. Lyrically, it's a symbolistic work having plenty of various images, but it also has some popular culture references, e.g. Dr. Myasnikov, a Russian propaganda-style TV doctor (the funny thing is that name "Myasnikov" in Russian means "Butcher"), or references to the Bible.

This album was the fruit of the whole 2020 year, it took about 11 months of hard work. We did our best and hoped to show some progress. I'd like to thank everyone involved, you can see here all the credits.

Check out this album, hope you like it!

Stay tuned for more!

Sincerely yours,

John "Grey Lenses" Grey

воскресенье, 10 января 2021 г.

Grey Lenses — Health and Discipline (2021)

 

Cover by Pavel Chainichkov

Happy New Year everyone! We're bursting into 2021 with a new release by Grey Lenses, his 6th electronic release titled "Health and Discipline".

Once again it's a soundtrack for a book, once again it's a mix of laptop noise and ambient, so there ain't no major changes in the sound, despite maybe the fact this time it's less noisy, and ambient pieces are not dark ambient pieces mostly.

All in all, the record has some eerier structures, as well as darker soundscapes, but this 30~ minutes album in general provides sort of "mystical" sonic experience, as the book features some fantastic scenes.

Musically, it was inspired by rather big variety of artists: the title track You Can Never Go Home was inspired by Letter From Home by Blaine L. Reininger; Shower Sequence & Anxiety Attack was inspired by Shower Sequence by Minimal Man, and, certainly, by famous Shower Sequence movie scene.

Visitors was inspired by a song with the same name sung by Dave Gahan for the project named frYars. Finally, Hospital was inspired by the song with same title performed by The Modern Lovers.

One may not find out bigger resemblance of afforementioned tracks in this album, but it was just source of inspiration, perhaps we can speak only about traces of impressions which turned into newer sonic pieces. Again, Grey Lenses is about sonic experience, not music (melody and/or rhythm).

Well, hope you like the effort of this year:


Stay tuned for more!

Sincerely yours, 

John "Grey Lenses" Grey

вторник, 1 декабря 2020 г.

Shadowplay Tape #3 records availiable online!

 

Hi everyone, we've uploaded most of the tracks from recent Shadowplay Tape #3, so you can check it out now!

It includes longplay "I Play the Music - You Dance" by Nervöse Leute

 

And a long track One Drop of Petrol in a Whole Tun of Coffee by The Colourful Pictures:

 

If you want to purschase the cassette, feel free to send me a PM.

Stay tuned, new releases will follow (in 2021)

 

Sincerely yours,

John "Grey Lenses" Grey

понедельник, 23 ноября 2020 г.

The Colourful Pictures — Bakhtin Bakhtin (2020)

 

 

Hi everyone, today I'm gonna present you our latest release, an album by The Colourful Pictures titled Bakhtin Bakhtin after the name of famous and influential scientist.

 

The album consists of 5 tracks which I found difficult to tag; it's obviously experimental avant-garde music, sometimes it turns to noise pop or some weird lo-fi synthpop, though it's played with live instruments: despite typical layers of laptop noise (performed by me), there's electric piano played by Предложный Падеж, live acoustic ('rock') drum kit played by Dmitry Mulganov, live bass played by Михаил Алексеев from Лосины Маршала Потемкина, and there's a flute played by me (track 1) and Предложный Падеж (other tracks).

 

This album also delievers a big deal of vocals (male vocals by me, female vocals by Предложный Падеж). In tracks 1-3 I read excerpt from Bakhtin's scientific papers, for tracks 4-5 I found some lyrics telling various stories about Bakhtin's life and work.

 

The first track, the longest one, named "Франсуа Рабле и народная культура средневековья" (Rabelais and His World), represents sonic study of carnival, it features various resonant noise sources, sometimes abrasive, sometimes mellow. The voice on this album, as well as drums, is kept as background instrument, there was no specific mixing to make it sound "soloing", it's somehow beyond the noise. In general, it makes the track monstrous just like Rabelais' characters.


The second track "Проблемы поэтики Достоевского", (Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics) shows more chilled, relaxed sound, when noise mostly assists the melody.


The third track "Динамика Достоевского" (Dostoevsky's Dynamics) is more energetic track where tempo goes too fast to make words recognizable. The pace of Dostoevsky's works is too rapid to concenrate on every certain word, and the track was up to demonstrate it. Later it reminded of Radiohead's "Idioteque" and I felt sorry for that. It was accidental.


The 4th track, "Диалог / Хронотоп" (Dialogue / Chronotope) is our favourite one. It's actually a weird, long, repetitave outsider pop song about Bakhtin. It's filled with grotesque figures, so peculiar to his studies of carnival.

For instance, there are such lines as:

Little children and old babushkas, everybody knows Bakhtin

Reading Bakhtin, I understand Rabelais with mother's milk

I brought Pospelov's book to Bakhtin, and Bakhtin refused to read it.

When Bakhtin goes out to watch street soccer, it's a carnival on Earth.

 

The final track is titled "Закатилось Солнце гуминатарных наук" (The Sun of Humanitarian Studies has Descended), and it's dedicated to portraying Bakhtin's life and death. The lyrics I read touch upon his bizzare poverty, his status of unrecognized scholar, etc. Sonically, it features eerie noise structures and sad bass tunes.

So, check out the record and stay tuned!

 

Sincerely yours,

John "Grey Lenses" Grey