Boomkat Product Review:
Another peach from the STROOM〰 label, this selection of avant-garde pop by NSRD catches the ace Belgian label looking beyond The Lowlands to one of Latvia’s most important, multi-disciplinary groups of the 1980s, sounding out a style somewhere between the slyvan, drizzly post punk of Vazz and the poetic art-pop of Lena Platonos, but with a chilly Baltic air all of its own.
Circling core members Juris Boiko (1954-2002) and Hardijs Lediņš (1955-2004), NSRD or The Workshop for the Restoration of Unfelt Feeling were a self-professed group of non-musicians who happened to make music as part of their practice, which also encompassed performance and action art, visual arts, poetry, samizdat (clandestine or bootleg literature) and video art, all in a fine attempt to explain, import and transpose postmodern art ideas into their home country.
NSRD called their movement ‘Approximate Art’, and by the end of the ‘80s were working with West German artists such as Indulis Bilzēns and Maximilian Lenz aka Westbam. This set surveys the years leading up to and including the late ‘80s, mostly collected from from reel-to-reels, tapes and obscure releases via Seque and their own Approximate Art label.
It’s all a bit like watching or listening in on someone else’s strange dreams, or tuning in to an unidentified radio station, where the lo-fi quality and synthetic inputs give a weirdly detached yet captivating quality that we can’t quite place a finger on. It lends an heavy-lidded lullaby-like effect to Karstvīna recepte / Uz pirti / Garām aiziet vīrs ar cigareti, whilst the icy slow synth-pop élan of Pļava provides a massively seductive highlight to lovers of Northern electronics, and Kastanis beautifully catches that Vazz sound, but replacing their supple dub suss with a strange mix of plasmic tones and brittle groove.
Kurmja aptuvenie ceļi finds them porous to mystic eastern influence and the possibilities of computer music in a way that recalls László Hortobágyi’s imaginative fusions from the same era, and the industrial klang of Ievadmūzika Maskavas TV programmai “LAIKS” - or Intro Music for the Moscow TV programme “TIME” has got to be one of the sickest, dissonant ‘80s TV themes we’ve ever heard.
Total revelation this one.