The cliché goes that Russian and Eastern European music is the fat kid at the back of the school cross-country race of rock’n’roll; slowly treading ground already covered by western rock and electronica, but about twenty years behind. It must be a frustrating pigeonhole to be penned into, so you can understand Russian freaks Shortparis deciding they’d had enough and setting about pulling the whole rotten edifice down.
To whit, their new album Пасха resembles a band trying to smash five decades of music with an electrified cricket bat. Rave, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, darktronica, Balkan folk, eastern psychedelia, Muse and rock ragas, all set about mercilessly by singer Nikolay while apparently in a fit of raging tears. The effect is similar to Leftfield having a nervous breakdown in a Moscow goth club, and deeply unsettling, particularly when the title track starts coming on like the theme from Allo Allo being played in hell as one of Belzebub’s most fiendish eternal torments. The most sordid of electro tastes only need apply, but what they’ll find is Russian music desecrating all that’s gone before it and forging its own dark path.
Words: Steven Kline