Post-punk is in a true renaissance in Belarus.
A number of high quality bands emerged. Some, like Super Besse, enjoy limited international recognition. It may not be immediately obvious why Molchat Doma (Молчат Дома) and not any other managed to generate such an impressive international following: their last album “Etazhi” has well over 1.5M views in Youtube alone and keeps gaining.
However, the more you listen and the more you think, the more you realize how intricately designed their music is. The first impression it creates is undeniable retro – somewhere between Depeche Mode and Joy Division. While melodies are not always catchy there’s almost dance-like groove, that is underlined by a slight vocal gest, when mostly monotonous (as genre requires) vocals suddenly would take a nearly imperceptible emotional twist, a slight emphasis right where the emphasis should be.
Yet you keep looking, and soon enough you realize that the way this is done is very modern. This isn’t a lo-fi outfit, and yet record is deliberately distorted to play into latest DIY trends.
The way it is distorted is very peculiar, whilst I don’t know how they processed the sound, the result is very similar to the effect one would get by recording something on low quality cassette tape, with overtly high input levels. This compression/distortion is familiar to those of us who enjoyed original Walkmans, and further plays into believable retro effect.
These reminiscences of the past are not rose-tinted, they are not cheerful. It’s all black and white, it’s dusty, mechanical and slightly outworldish. The feeling of retro-mystery is all-encompassing. The band relentlessly pushes this aesthetics through their album covers, song names, and even the way frontman looks.
Of course this carefully constructed image would worth nothing if not backed up by authenticity, and Molchat Doma has plenty. Buy-in from the band seems complete. Their music is nothing short of compact universe, where 21st century came, and yet a part of 80ies, the one with anti-human brutalist architecture, feeling of social detachment and all-encompassing loneliness, never went away.