After the sold out concert in April the most provocative Russian band Shortparis is coming back to Berlin with a big show, sharing this special evening together with Hope “the most promising German band right now“.
Shortparis are well on their way to deserved international acclaim and already being heralded as “the best Russian live act”. Hailing from St. Petersburg and led by charismatic frontman Nikolay Komiagin, the band continues to build a reputation for its jaw-dropping ritualistic performances and dark, electronic soundscapes, as “irrational, spastic dance grooves” converge with “post-punk, experimental noise and acoustic chanson” to form a musical aesthetic that is one of a kind.
Performing in Russian, French and English, Shortparis are nothing short of a revelation as they aim to provide a fitting soundtrack to their everyday lives, a sound that mirrors St. Petersburg as it was and is. “You know, I constantly dream of coming across bands like Shortparis yet so rarely do,” writes John Doran of The Quietus. “Ambitious, bombastic, incredibly pretentious, erotic, thrilling, impossible to pin down, vaguely deviant, fun to dance to and full of revolutionary potential. Sure, if you listen hard enough you can hear them laughing but you would be a fool to make the mistake of presuming that they’re joking.”
Their music videos are almost equally intense and leave room for interpretation. Take the companion visuals to Strashno (transl. “Scary”) for instance. The lyrics reflect a current state of anxiety as the visuals try to reveal a sort of ongoing hysteria. Only hours after filming at a school, someone called the police about possible terrorist activities: “Our music video is trying to manifest the state of some part of our generation. It is provocative and refers to some social tragedies, which are not reflected in our visual culture. Taboos and fears are opened up: no matter what is written in Arabic letters, ‘love’ or ‘friendship’, it must be terrorism, bald heads must mean nazis, and so on. But after all this play with meanings, only anxiety stays and it grows.”
Marching, brute force, slavish discipline, technocracy, and techno. Quintessential German clichés. Ironically though, whenever a German band is loved abroad, it is for these traits exactly. DAF, Kraftwerk, and Rammstein are prime examples. But can there be German pop music?
Imagine Portishead formed in Berlin today. Josef Beuys comes along, shreds the band with a coarse wire brush, and exhibits them in a dark, 100 foot high silo for the production of artificial icebergs. The resulting Gesamtkunstwerk may well be a close approximation of Hope.
The first foreigners to fall in love with this burstingly emotional monster of a band were ALGIERS and IDLES, with whom the band toured extensively. („Hope have a soulful integrity that resides in a pounding resonance with chromatic washes that cut through a dark dark black; leaving you aghast.“ – Joe Talbot, IDLES).
Subsequently, the press at Eurosonic Festival celebrated Hope as the new, avant-garde pop miracle („Ballet mixes with Post-Punk better than you think“ – buzz.ie, „a monumental experience“ – NBHAP.com)
Their self-titled debut album was recorded by Olaf Opal (The Notwist) in the remains of an abandoned lung sanatorium to capture inner destruction and coldness. It has what it takes to become a timeless classic. Songs like RAW, CELL, KINGDOM and DROP YOUR KNIVES radiate more dark and dystopic energy than all seasons of Black Mirror combined.
They are songs that originated in the demystified, gentrified, and art-free space known as „Berlin“.
The only answer to society in its present state can be the most radical, most immediate, and most liberated art.