Sacred Bones Records (label)
19 November 2020 (released)
19 November 2020
Way back in the real 1980s (as opposed to the hyper-real representations that currently dominate the world of screen-streaming) where this album’s roots/routes lead back to, to uninitiated Western sensibilities fed on a steady diet of Cold War paranoia and FM radioactive US consumerism this would have been an exotic ear-worm, musical missives from afar, sonic missiles from over ‘there’, unintelligible exclamations in an alien language.
To the initiated it would have fit seamlessly into the work of the intelli-poptimists like Depeche Mode and OMD and their masterly melancholy, New Order’s eventual emergence from beaten down tragedy into upbeat euphoria and the gothic parameters and quixotic perimeters of The Sisters of Mercy. Not to mention the plethora of post-punk sounds emanating from the new kids on the Communist bloc of East Germany, Poland and the one-time behemoth the USSR. Resistance was fertile.
Now, in 2020, the year that was supposed to epitomise clarity of vision (symbolically, at least) and surely the road ahead to collective betterment yet has been rendered redundant and a dis-eased wash-out, at least Belarus’s best-kept secret Molchat Doma (translated in English as ‘Houses are Silent’) are on hand provide this noir-wave platter. The trio are comprised of Egor Shkutko (stentorian singing), Roman Komogortsev (guitar, synths, and drum machine), and Pavel Kozlov (bass and synths).
The album thematically and dramatically encompasses (in any particular order) dancing, dreaming, romancing, screaming, the insecurities of security, hopelessly hoping, the performance of love and the love of performance, avoiding the void, fears, tears, tears (rhymes with bears) the elements of nature and the nature of ailments all expressed in distressed monochromatic visions. With titles like ‘Utonut’ (‘Drown’) and ‘Ne Smeshno’ (‘Not Funny’) this is a necessary journey through the pain to get to the pleasure.
‘Obrechen’ (‘Doomed’) is a superlative tale of gloomance, outlining how the emotions can be a prison without bars, the giving of it ‘all’ ensuring a one way ticket to history. As Shkutko fatally sees where his imminent future lies he exhorts in existential agony ‘Eternal sleep ahead in a place where we were not expected’. Could be the womb or the tomb, nobody’s in control of the(ir) beginning and/or end.
‘Monument’ is a testament to how a once futuristic sound can forever speak universal and timeless stories. At the end of the day, we’ve all been here and there.