Boomkat Product Review:
Premiere, expanded vinyl edition of the 4th LP by inimitable ambient/post-industrial pioneers :Zoviet*France:, dished up as part of a necessary reissue scheme by the ferric archivists at V-O-D
First released on 2 x C90 & C80 tape in 1985, ‘Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music’ ran to just shy of 3 hours in length and was then the Newcastle-based band’s most substantial release to date. 34 years and following a number of 3CD reissues, this new vinyl edition is particularly sympathetic to the album’s typically gauzy electro-acoustic fidelities, its recurring use of tremulous, pointillist, staccato percussions, and its atmospheric timbral sensitivities. Aside from a nearly buried vocal sample speaking the title, we’re not really sure what ‘Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music’ refers to, but that’s surely in keeping with the band’s beguiling enigma and purposefully elusive politics, which, like their musick, has kept keen listeners guessing for decades.
Originally housed in a handmade ceramic box with a hand-painted stick, piece of rope, a hijacked American flag printed on muslin, and a feather from the beach at Sellafield (one of the most radioactive places on earth), which are all depicted in the trifold jacket, ‘Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music’ as the title implies, sees ZF approach the idea of “songs” from a artypical angle of layered percussion and drone dirges in no fewer than 37 parts. Coming sequentially in the wake of ‘Garista’, ‘Mohnomische’ and ‘Eostre’, it finds them tripping from the latter LP into a more fragmented style that’s less concerned with long jams, and relatively focussed on more concise, slower structures and almost-“songs” that sound like ancient, Ur civilisations honing the grammar of their craft.