This “M” is for mafia, not for music

I am pretty sure it would take me only one single call at my mom´s to find out when and on which channel I could be entertained tonight best – in terms of switching off my mind, keep my mouth uncontrolled open and my perception on a torpid level. The programs are called “песни” which meens songs or ballads and, indeed, you will be faced with nice lulling sounds or sounds on which one is able to cut up the dance-floor best. What a perfect night after work: After functioning all day long you get a second oportunity to simply react and relax… Family-life is done by it´s own: Everybody is sitting happily together, in peace and harmony, because of those beautiful and harmonious sounds, and those well shaped bodies… nothing to be irritated about, the texts are about love and love and love…a comfortable feeling – an idiot would wish to change this situation!

Almost three years ago I was kind of shocked being faced with a Russian band, called “Quest Pistols” in a club in Bielefeld, Germany. Most of the attendees must have known what to expect and I was irritated to find myself on a danceflor with only a few people left. The music changed suddenly and the musicians standing on the stage reminded me of the 80ies: Their bodies full of tattoos, lean shapes AND spandex. Their hair looked either like the hairdo of Jack Sparrow or a punk-guy we all know from the streets. Instead of dance-hall-sounds there were elektic guitars! The guys on the stage jumped madly all around and performed contoritions which appeared anything but smoothy and harmonious.


There arised a strange feeling, a feeling that destroyed my hitero image of Russian music, Russian culture. It appeared like they were performing something which seemed dangerously and forbidden – but of course only by Russian standards…

A few years ago the girlband “Tatu” gained worldwide attention for their lesbian performance, not shocking only for tradition-conscious Russians, but also for the rest of the world… Both bands had something in common: They appeared comet-like and disappeared like wrong alerts. For one brief moment they rised expectations towards Russia and in the next moment they suddenly quitted the challenging game, for no particular reason. Image

Probably, it must have been LOVE that integrated them into society and made them behave “normal” again. LOVE seems to work as a religion for the recipiants: It´s the feeling that counts most. And as long as people are struggling with feeling their brains get numb.  – Although both bands appeared like a “wind of change”  in the beginnings, they remained just appearing. Their texts showed unfortunately no other topics than LOVE – the new opium for the people. 

And the music instudry knows (since Dieter Bohlen the songwriter of  “Modern Talking” and many more clone-bands) best which patterns work and which doesn’t. Pop is no complex buisness. The only thing you have to learn are those five chords which can be applied everytime, according to every face, for – ever?!

And even when you studied buisness economics you will have the oppurtunity to become the godfather of  pop-music by knowing only five handles! This was not only realized by a harmless man like Dieter Bohlen by now.

There is a serious suspicion that the Russian mafia also realized that there´s a new way of making good money and there are not even new strategies needed. It´s that simple: You seek for a young, unsettled girl, operate her beautiful, present her to the public and let them pay to see her.  A way the mafia is professional for a long time. But this time it´s the entertaining video-editing-buisness that replaces the brothel – and men have no trouble with their wifes anylonger, because they are sharing their joy.

By the way: This depicted band, “Viagra”, was founded in Ukraine. Probably there must live also many confident people while their puppet-players were enjoying the whole game and remain confident to do good for the citicens AND for their own.

Looking thirty years back, it appears like a distressed daydream that once there were bands like “Kino” who wrote about war and political systems and played and sang the way they thought it was appropriate to them and not to anyone else. It´s hard to believe that once there was a chance to become free, for a moment, for a second…

In those times, the 1980s, when political conditions started to change radically in Russia, musicans and artist were not forced to keep mum anymore. When Perestroika started, the whole system started to change from a highly repressive socialist to a prestage of democracy, or at least there was the intention to achieve same standards like in the west by Michail Gorbatschow. Glasnost (means: transparency) should free the citizens and enable puplic concerts of bands whose texts, appearance and sounds do not numb people…

But although everybody in the world thinks Russia is on its way to more democracy, music genres like rock, alternative and so forth won´t be found in the public media. Unfortunately they remained to stay in the underground as subcultures, small groups that try to come up and disclose what they are observing from the bottom of the dictactorial regime, ruled by mafia and by the economy.

Кино – спокойная ночь, 1988 (Kino – good/ calm night)

Roofs tremble under the pressure of days/Night Shepard is herding his clouds/ The city is firing shot-shells with beads of light at the night/ But the night is stronger, her power is great.

To those who are going to bed, good night.

I’ve been waiting for this time, and now it is here/ Those who had been mum broke their silence/ Those who have nothing to wait for any more, are straddling their horses/ You can’t catch up with them, not any more

To those who are going to bed, good night.

My neighbourghs come, they hear hoove-sounds/ they disturb to fall asleep, the disturb to sleep/ Those who don´t wait for anything: Go!/ Those who are safed, those who are safed…

To those who are going to bed, good night.


Although the rival is almost eliminated by the pop-mafia-bosses, rock music remains steadfast.

Алиса (Alisa),

a band founded in 1983 in St. Petersburg and belonging to the “Rubenstein”-Rockclub which was considered as wary by the Russian Committee for State Security and the militia. Alisa battled their way, still performing and publishing new records, still sensitive for grievances – and they are also acting as a kind of monument for a movement which should never be forgotten. In their Song “Жизнь струны” (The Life of a Vagabond, 2010) Alisa reminds us of the times when Victor Tsoi (bandleader of “Kino”) and their critical attitude…

Жизнь струны – Life of a Vagabond

Momeory of Victor Tsoi

Passing with the wind/ From one edge to another/ On earth, as the result of the night/ the songs cry at the morning

We should have known/ how the bark will end/ racing hounds in the steppe chase/ The vagabond´s life is a tensely tight string/

Who has felt it, who has seen it?/ What are the consequences of the storm?/ From grief to fret/ Should we really step back?/ heaven´s gift wawes the path

In the night it opens the people´s eyes/ of those who continue their way/ together with me.

We could have been whiter than the snow/ if we realized the joy of cold/ the blizzard flies over the land/

Within the prohibition/ a pride of wolves breaks in/ the leader, enrusting the soul/

A vagabond´s life, a gutsy death.