Books

New books about music – Weekend – Kommersant

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Don’t be shy. History of post-Soviet pop music in 169 songs

Publishing house IMI

The monumental volume of almost a thousand pages, collected by journalist Alexander Gorbachev and published by the Institute of Musical Initiatives, is an impressive experience of cultural archeology. Its subject is post-Soviet pop music – songs that absolutely everyone knows and that no one seriously thinks about. Pop, as Gorbachev notes in the preface, is stigmatized in Russia: it is a shame to talk about it. Only tabloids write about him, interested in gossip, but not music. As a result, the field of culture, which seems to be always in sight, is virtually unknown. Another important idea: pop is something like a national unconscious. As with the unconscious, attention to invisible processes is needed to understand how it works. About each song here – a tiny essay, and then an interview. They say, as a rule, not performers, but people who remain invisible: composers, producers, clipmakers. The book begins with the group “Car-Man” and ends with Morgenstern. In the middle – “Brilliant”, Mikhail Krug, Decl, “Tattoo”, “Beasts”, etc., etc. All this is part of the unique history of the country over the past 30 years. Attention to pop music implies a special approach to history. Unlike more intelligent rock, pop does not aim to describe time, to catch the Zeitgeist. He is the very flesh of the age – the substance of her desires.


Leonid Kotelnikov, Ivan Aksenov “Swings and Torture. The ultimate guide to the modern Russian underground “

Publishing house Common place, Asebia

Another collection of conversations created at the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum. Leonid Kotelnikov (cultural director, festival organizer and one of the most interesting performers in young Russian music) and Ivan Aksenov (book journalist and co-founder of Common place) talk to nonconformists, tricksters, prophets and eccentrics – the main heroes of modern Russia and secret resistance to the norm . Most of the book’s characters are connected with music: pioneer of Russian industrialism and illustrator of the first issues of “Limonka” Alexander Lebedev-Frontov, existentialist-ridiculer from Vladimir Mikhail Kiryukhin, creator of “Chimpanzee Brothers”, “Mouse Chimpanzee”, “Mouse Sikukhin”, “Mr. Zhnyur and Pasto” Georgy Osipov, host of the famous program “Transylvania is Concerned” and a connoisseur of occult nooks and crannies of Soviet culture. But in addition to them, there is a Japanese mathematician in love with the Holy Father’s theology, a young tick-winger from Chinatown, the founder of a home museum with bombs and African swords, anarcho-meteorologists and other people with interesting hobbies. In these conversations there are many subtleties of extracting sound from all sorts of objects, but we are also talking about ancient vases, Russian toads, becoming a dinosaur and other exciting topics. Like any subcultural reading, Swings and Torture can seem like either a landfill or a treasure chest.


Anatoly Ryasov “Barely audible rumble. Introduction to the philosophy of sound “

Publishing house UFO

Anatoly Ryasov is a very versatile author: political scientist-orientalist, novelist and playwright, writing in the tradition of Samuel Beckett (and recently published his first Russian-language biography), author of philosophical essays, as well as musician and sound director who worked with the band. “Auction”. In this book, some of his professions intersect. Its subject – the philosophy of sound – a direction that seems to be fashionable, but is, according to Ryasov, in crisis. The original message of his work: recording technologies are developing at a dizzying pace, but this dynamic is understood only as a problem of the industry. The philosophy of sound and music deals with its abstract problems and is therefore powerless to comprehend modernity. They need to finally meet. Not thinking about technology means giving up trying to take sound seriously, but giving music to the technical department is also not worth it. It is necessary to discover its limits: in the sound that resists technology, it turns out to be elusive – abstract, sensual, not subject to the market, language, progress. Ryasov uses Heidegger, Proust, Sokurov, Artaud, dozens of musicians, artists and scientists in search of this elusive sound creature. There are many references here, but “Barely Hearing Rumble” is not a dry study, but a book that is remarkably romantic in spirit.


Patrick Barbier “Farinelli. The greatest neuter of the Enlightenment “

Ivan Limbach Publishing House
Translation Sergei Raisky and Irina Morozova

Patrick Barbier is a major expert in baroque music and, in particular, in castrato. This is probably the most piquant topic in the history of European classical music: the castrates, who came into vogue when the church began to restrict women’s performances, are earthly possessors of angelic voices. Therefore, the heavenly is mixed here with the sexual, high art – with physical violence, the struggle for morality – with the Baroque ambiguities. However, Barbier refrains from speculating on these paradoxes. He writes without any boulevard, restrained and even stubborn (although not falling into academicism). In 2006, his review “History of Neuters” was published in Russian. The new book is dedicated to the most famous enslaved singer in history – a native of Naples Carlo Broschi, nicknamed Farinelli. This is his most detailed biography, reconstructing bit by bit the details of the life and career of the famous singer. Of course, biographies of performers of past centuries are a bit strange. Most of the text is about Farinelli’s performances – a retelling of singing. But in addition to European fame, Farinelli had friendships with poets and kings, meetings with Casanova, political intrigue and even love dramas. So Barbier’s book can be read as a historical novel about eighteenth-century Europe.


John Cage “Uncertainty”

Publishing house Jaromir Hladik press
Translation Svetlana Silakova

The Uncertainty lecture was given several times in the 1950s and 1960s by American avant-garde classic John Cage to the accompaniment of pianist David Tudor, his regular co-author, friend and one of the main characters in the text. Lecture – the definition is emphatically playful. These are 90 little stories arranged in a conditional sequence. The order of reading was random, each fragment of Cage said exactly a minute, so those that are longer, he tarator, and short – stretched. The printed text is like a score of a performance, but it can also be read as a charming short prose. The music here is one of the plots: funny stories about Schoenberg’s studies, discussions about Bach and jazz, stories about touring. No less attention is paid to mushrooms (Cage was a passionate mushroom picker), parties, oriental practices and just various curious cases. “Uncertainty” is a document of American bohemian Buddhism of the 1950s: each fragment is like a household anecdote and a classic koan, wisdom is indistinguishable from absurdity, a grin is from enlightenment. It sounds, for example, like this: “Once Xenia told me that as a child in Alaska she and her friends founded their own club, and there was only one rule in its charter:” No nonsense. “

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