REVIEW: Various Artists - "Edge of the Night: Russian Gothic Compilation"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Edge of the NightThere are a lot of hot-spots for music today. Cross into Germany or head towards Texas for industrial. Stop by Detroit for electronica. Seattle has a strong EBM/electronica scene. NYC for its underground trance/goa parties. UK has the goth-rock scene locked up pretty good. But Russia? Do they even have music? A resounding "Yes!" comes from the Russian Gothic Project - a loosely collected group of journalists, organizers and musicians from the big red country up north. RGP just released their first CD - a compilation upon which one can find a very diverse and broad collection of music from some of Russia's contenders in the dark music arena. I admit I haven't heard of a single band listed here on this 16 track compilation - but frankly, that's what compilations are all about. Introductions.

For the past three years the RGP have been working on the Russian Gothic Page (http://www.gothic.ru) with an impressive layout, great design and boundless collection of information on their scene. I urge you to check it out if even for a second you think there is no gothic or related scene up their way. They beg to differ - after perusing it a bit, I'd have to agree. There is a strong scene there so it seems.

Also be sure to check out the Russian Gothic Project's compilation area of their web site. On it can be found in-depth information on the bands that contributed to the compilation, their music, contact information - it's really an excellently done site. If there's any band here that you like that you want to know more about, just swing by http://music.gothic.ru/compilation_e.htm and you'll have everything you need. A well put together, professional and informative CD and supporting site.

Now onward to the music of Edge of the Night. There are a lot of musical genres shown here. From ethereal to experimental, rock to electronic. This CD surely runs the gamut of musical make-up. But it's a good representation of what Russia does have to offer to the scene. Some good, some not so…but all trying their damnedest to put Russia on the Gothic Map. Some advice on the CD jacket - use a stronger text. I found myself having to retype web addresses as the text and white-on-blue style used makes c's look like e's, etc. Onward to the tracks!

Contact Information - The Russian Gothic Project:
E-Mail: coroner@gothic.ru
Web: http://www.gothic.ru

Canonis - Snow River
An ethereal, folky sound permeates Snow River. Canonis is a powerful band with strong arrangement skills. The guitar leads off the track and when other instruments step up they all come in at once. Vocals are female fronted with a diva-like approach. Quite a good track, though the large assortment of instruments can tend to mask the otherwise beautiful vocalist.

Contact Information - Canonis:
Post: Islamov T., P.O. Box 36, Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan, 423805, Russia
E-Mail: canonis@mail.ru

Caprice - Princess Mee
Beautifully ethereal with medieval strumming, Caprice's "Music Of The Elves" is bright and soothing. The vocals are female again, and very well done, traipsing along a high-road path. Light and high, the wind instrument (flute) and string instrument (violin I'm guessing) is superb during the breakdown. You can almost see the faye in the woodlands on this one. Princess Mee is good, albeit an acquired taste I'm sure. But being a Ren-Faire type guy, I was right at home.

Contact Information - Caprice:
Post: 15-242, Eltitskaya str., Moscow, 121552, Russia
E-Mail: elvencaprice@mail.ru
Web: http://www.kulichki.com/pmusic/caprice/

Romowe Rikoito - Elegy
Another ethereal style piece with heavy strings, Elegy differs in that it is slower and moodier. It has a more morose sound and the vocals are male this time - harmonic and slow. Might be a little too slow and the instruments are extremely minimal, made up of a string chord progression that remains throughout the track that doesn't change much at all - just kind of sits there. There are other instruments that help out, but this chord hold steals attention as it is set quite loud in the track and, again, defies the other instruments by just sitting there.

Contact Information - Romowe Rikoito:
E-Mail: niktorius@mail.ru

No Man's Land - Falling Into the Night
Picking up the pace now with a goth-rock ensemble, No Man's Child's Falling Into the Night is a well-arranged piece of music. Harking back to the older-skool days with a more Curelike/Bauhausian arrangement, Falling Into the Night has an impressive male vocalist and the instruments are well represented with separate music scores that work well together. Lyrics are in Russian, too. The mood of the song is not lost to those who don't speak the language, however - the chorale sections are very well done. A good male vocalist, as I said.

Contact Information - No Man's Land:
E-Mail: vagonka@gazinter.net
Web: http://www.koenig.su/win/koenig_music/nomans.htm

Neutral - Playroom
Back a little to the ethereal side of things where we began, Neutral however add a stronger rock style to their strumming style. The keyboard melody is cool and metal-tinged, the strumming guitars well played, but maybe set a little too high on the pick-up. Male vocals are low and bassy and forces the song to drag a bit. Could have used more mix-up of the instrument scores I think. Pick up the pace a bit and add a little shine to the vocals. Playroom gets so moody and angsty your depression will implode you.

Contact Information - Neutral:
E-Mail: neutral@mail.ru
Web: http://neutral.gothic.ru/

Dvar - Taai Liira
What the fuck is this? Industrial/experimental noise with an otherwise nice beat, but what the hell is with the vocals? They scrape, whine, tear into your ears and I SWARE TO GOTH it sounds like the dude is saying "Arriba arriba ondele!" How the hell did a Looney Tunes mouse get in the studio? Probably some of the most annoying vocals since…well, hell, I don't even know.

Contact Information - Dvar:
E-Mail: el_sadday@mail.ru
Web: http://dark.gothic.ru/dvar/

Damsel's Dream - Elegy for rhythm-box
After Taai Liira I figured anything would be an improvement - but the opening keyboard thinga-ma-jig of Elegy for rhythm-box had me running for the Bayer. However, dump that annoying opening and the track isn't too bad. A collection of vocals with a minimal beat and electronics, the female vocals are twined against each other in an interesting arrangement. The upper echelon vocals are kind of high though - reaching for a soprano level that is almost mind numbing.

Contact Information - Damsel's Dream:
E-Mail: devson@newmail.ru

Phantom Bertha - Igni Natura Renovatur Integra
We're into the heavier electronics again. Russian lyrics done with a Bauhausian flair, Igni has a deep bass line and interesting keyboards. However, other than the drum track, that's about all it has. Very minimal - keyboards, bass, metronomic drum line and vocals. It could have stood to have more added to it, I'm sure. But otherwise a decent old-skool punky song.

Contact Information - Phantom Bertha:
Post: Russia, 191025, Saint-Peterburg, Nevsky pr., 63-25, Laskin S.

Dreams - Cloud of Dreams
Opening with flowing water and light thunder, Cloud of Dreams brings us back to more of an ethereal nature, but this time imbued with trance-like keyboard chords and flowing female vocals reminiscent of My Scarlet Life. The beat track is bongo-style and very low key, allowing the keyboards and vocals to mesh together in the first portion of the song. A stronger beat/bass line comes in later, adding a definitive rhythm to the piece. Quite well done!

Contact Information - Dreams:
E-Mail: rwcd@mail.ru

Cyclotimia - Paradise X
Thought Russia was bereft of industrial dance bands early on in the review, didn't you? Well maybe - but they have a strong up and comer in the swirly Paradise X from Moscow's Cyclotimia. Combining a grooving trance/EBM style with industrial samples and flowing synthesizers, Paradise X is a very nice piece and definitely worth dropping the X to. Later the drum rolls get more stompable, windy and keys get a little technoish just to keep things moving along at a good pace. Rather experimental in places, they could have laid off the music-swallowing keyboard arrangements at times as well.

Contact Information - Cyclotimia:
E-Mail: cyclotimia@mail.ru
Web: http://cyclotimia.gothic.ru

Lunophobia - Under the Snow
Synth-poppy, light, breezy, beautiful keyboard melodies, wonderful female vocals. Under the Snow is a highlight of this compilation. Fresh and new sounding and arranged with flair and aplomb. Whispered vocal lines and, a bit later, a great bass line (albeit a little too hidden under the keys) and drum track. Saint Petersburg bred some fine musicians in Lunophobia.

Contact Information - Lunophobia:
Post: Russia, 198096, St. Petersburg, Zina Portnova str., 11-146, Ivchuk E.V.
E-Mail: sg@ru.ru
Web: http://dark.gothic.ru/lunophobia/

Djembe - Tourdion
Fast violins and strumming guitars in this very ethnic track. Flutes wind to the clouds with the violins later, twisting in and out of each other. Gets slower and brooding later with added keys and a bongo style beat. I can appreciate very much the quality of the violins here, but I'm not sure it fits a "gothic compilation." A nice song nonetheless - if you really try you can probably lump it into the ethereal genre if you wanted to.

Contact Information - Djembe:
Post: Sablin D., Krasnoobsk 8123, Novosibirskaya obl., 633128, Russia
E-Mail: filosof@windoms.sitek.net
Web: http://www.sol.ru/Culture/Djembe/djinfo_e.htm

Kratong - Echoes of Sinking Ships
My other favorite from this compilation, Kaliningrad's Kratong create a folk atmosphere with beautiful string arrangements. Vocals are near-whisper and hidden beneath the instruments for a nice effect in this case. A very emotional track with soul-tweaking instrumentals. Very enjoyable.

Contact Information - Kratong:
Post: 14-9, Svobodnaya str., Kaliningrad, 236000, Russia
E-Mail: johnny@balttv.com

EdgeMoon Far Away - December of Times
Bells bells bells. Everywhere bonging bells. Non-rhythmic and not very satisfying at the outset, the song at least grows after about a minute of bonging around. Orchestrational keyboards blend in with the ringing and suddenly there's a chick cumming her brains out on high. It's better than the outset - but the chick is too loud and blaring on the upper reaches of soprano. You could deafen the vet's office customers with this track.

Contact Information - Moon Far Away:
Post: Russia, 163061, Arkhangelsk, P.O.Box 215, Andrey Turusinov
E-Mail: results_ark@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.gothic.ru/mfa/

TNT Art - Better Than You
Opening with a sample down on society, TNT Art's Better Than You starts like a chameleon - you expect to hear some heavy industrial. Instead it goes into a very noisy and brashly orchestrated rock style song. The arrangement isn't so good, with a very powerful keyboard/electronic mix with heavy beats and bass. During vocal sections the heavy orchestral soundings tone down so you can hear the guy talk.

Contact Information - TNT Art:
E-Mail: tntart@mail.ru
Web: http://www.chat.ru/~stas242/tnt0.html

Cisfinitum - De Profundis
Slow and droning. De Profundis is a sleep-inducing track with ambient keyboard styles and a droning bass and drum. A little more is added as the song moves on, but it never quite throws off the sleepy drone of its rhythm. Female vocals that attempt to meld with the ambient synth scores later on.

Contact Information - Cisfinitum:
Post: Russia, 113152, Moscow, Sevastopolsky, pr., 5-3-6

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