“Minsk The Unchangeable” is a cold and frightening anthem to alienation and loneliness among the asphalt rivers, sterile avenues and vast squares of a megapolis. It comes from the psychedelic lo-fi concept album “Icarus Messerschmitt”, recorded over the course of 4 years in Belarus, Poland, Germany and Vietnam by a band of school teachers from Grodno region and their musician friends.
Blaine Rohmer is a one-man doom/sympho-metal studio project, for which Gennady Kharitonov is the soul writer, singer, musician and record producer. “Promise Of Autumn” is his third record and first with undistorted vocals. It has both the sonic power of metal and striking melodism, with opening “Misery Storm” being one of the standout tracks.
“Monetka” – a song about disillusioned guys bringing call girls to a drug-fuelled sex party – became one of the hip-hop anthems of the year in Belarus, Russian, Ukraine, making LSP (short for “lil stupid pig”) one of the current top bands in the region. It comes from the album providently called “Tragic City” – soon after the single and album broke in the charts the second founding member of the band died through self-abusive lifestyle. It didn’t prevent LSP to continue with several new members to a massive sold out tour.
The 16th studio album of this classic Belorusian punk band is named “Pershy” (The First) for a number of things they did here for the first time in their 28 year lasting career, including use of crowdfunding and audio mixing outside of Belarus. The record is a mishmash of satirical punk and alternative rock numbers with some lyrical moments to it, the title track being a perfect introduction.
The most prominent medieval music band from Belarus is now a regular tour guest in the US, thanks to the last year’s album of classic rock songs recorded in the hallmark medieval style. “Marazulya” – the song from 15th century – comes from their new LP Vada, Khmel I Solad (“Water, Hops And Malt”), which includes medieval drinking songs from the area of modern-day Belarus and Europe, all translated to Belarusian. It’s about the inevitability of death and bears the trademark hymnal sound of the band based on custom made reconstructed versions of medieval instruments.
“Predlogenie” is the third single from the sophomore effort “La Nuit*” by coldwave/post-punkers Super Besse, who became one of the best known Belarusian bands in Europe through active showcase exposure, playing Tallinn Music Week, Reeperbahn and, recently, Eurosonic. Here band shifts to a more synth-driven sound with powerful bass-lines by Alex Sinica and signature vocals by Maxim Kulsha.
“Zarathushtra” is probably the most epic track from the highly acclaimed second album “Koler, jakoha niama” (The Colour That Doesn’t Exist) from Belarusian modern art rock weirdos Tonqixod, who suddenly ascended to fame with their debut full-length “Pradmova” (“Foreword”) in 2015. Complex and diverse, their music obviously had very little commercial perspective in modern day reality. As a result, band announced the indefinite hiatus starting in the end of 2017.
This song is one of the stand out gems from the album “Nenuzhnaya Pravda o Belorusakh 2”(The Unwanted Truth About Belarusians 2) by True Litwin Beat – the alt rock / hip-hop alter ego of the ever-experimenting Sergey Pukst. It’s not because it mentions big alternative scene names of modern Belarus (Brutto) and former USSR (Grob – Grazhdanskaya Oborona) in the negative context, but because of its sheer music power and punch-in-your-face lyrics depicting modern society.
“Zhavaronachki” (Skylarks) is a traditional Belarusian spring song (return of skylarks is one of the symbols of spring here) rearranged by a multi-national jazz-folk quintet Ulyanica from Poznan (Poland). It was founded by Belarusian-born vocalist Ulyana Hedzik, who went to get higher music education to Poland, but didn’t lose her roots. The band’s debut album “Viasna” (Spring) is a delightful collection of Belarusian classic folk tunes brought into jazz context. Listen here.
“Mortal Kola” is the lead single from the debut full length “Islankid Cassette” by Weed & Dolphins (everyone likes their name). The record is an audio diary of a boy called Damon (originally the band was a one-man studio project, now a live band too), who lives alone on a Potato Island (potato is one of the modern day Belarusian symbols). Musically they bring together 90s British lo-fi/indie influences with their home-brew genre they call cloud punk. It’s a great indie track, the album itself is a more textured and varied affair.
Yegor Zabelov is one of the most talented accordion players in Belarus, he’s touring Europe on a regular basis. He started mixing accordion tunes with experimental music in mid-2000’s with his previous band Gurzuf (accordion + drums and sampler). This is his first full-length in 10 years, this time with Yegor Zabelov Trio featuring bass-guitar and drums. It’s pretty varied: from band-accompanied loud rock and jazz-influenced tracks to intricate solo numbers. The beautiful 9-minute “In G” seems to show it all.
Zero-85 is a cult Belarusian band from Byalystok (Eastern Poland). They started their career in early 2000s, won the young artists’ contest at then prominent Basowiszcza 2001 festival and started recording their debut album. It was re-recorded several times and released only in early 2017 together with the split announcement. “Turritopsis Nutricula” (named after the special kind of jellyfish, which according to scientists can effectively live forever), is a loud and epic 80-minute journey through complex and tense 5 to 11 minute powerful alternative rock songs, well represented by “Pomarium Meum” (“My Garden”).