Photograph by Betânia Liberato
I recently commented that Casper was perhaps a descendant of the renowned 16th century alchemist John Dee – that he continues to conjure these latter-day “Nuggets” seemingly at will, suggests I may not have been that far off the mark!
The band’s press release confirms that, “João Pimenta (drums/vocals), Pedro Pestana (guitar) and André Couto (bass), emerged from what they call “a dark, decadent city of a peripheral country in a peripheral continent”: Porto, Portugal”.
On listening to their eponymous debut album, I see 10 000 Russos as being more akin to their ancestral sea-faring voyagers of discovery, or as Timothy Leary observed, “You are venturing out (like the Portuguese sailors, like the astronauts) on the uncharted margins. But be reassured— it’s an old human custom.”
Ahead of reviewing this album, I had the pleasure of interviewing the band – which I urge you to read here.
The band’s press release attests that the LP, ’10 000 Russos’ is, “A six track / 43 minutes long obscure and stomping mantra, their self-titled LP was entirely written and recorded inside an abandoned 1980s shopping mall, where escalators have been out of order for the last fifteen years and the only source of light are some plastic Swedish designed / Chinese made bulbs”.
10 000 Russos are a band who can take the isolation of their creative surroundings, and like the formative Joy Division in their abandoned “dark satanic mill”, sculpt a myriad of sonic earthly delights that belie their stark gestative landscape.
As mentioned in my interview, listening to ’10 000 Russos’, I am immediately transported in mind to The Young Gods in their heyday, but they are just one of many primal influences on a band whose originality and passion is worn on their collective sleeves.
’10 000 Russos’ kicks off with ‘Karl Burns’, a slow burning, haunting, melancholy epic tribute to the drummer with The Fall; ‘USVSUS’, sounds like a marching, Stephen Morris inspired, “solemn drumming ritual across the wastelands of the mind”; ‘Barreiro’, is perhaps a sparse dystopian hymn to the Lisbon municipality of the same name; ‘Baden Baden Baden’, launches in with all the swagger of a ‘Pretty Vacant’-esque riff intro, hypnotically building drone layer upon deliciously kaleidoscopic drone layer; ‘Stakhanovets / Kalumet’, was described to me by guitarist, Pedro Pestano as follows, “Stakhanovets is kind of an angry song, it’s gnarly and there’s a lot of contradictory shit going on. The lyrics refer to the Stakhanovite movement, a miner’s movement in the 1930’s Soviet Union that encouraged workers to work harder to increase production in a competition based system. Basically it meant employing an almost capitalist production stimulation technique in the soviet regime. We are not directly questioning the legitimacy of this in any system but it’s interesting to find very different systems using the same principles to achieve the same goal and still keep disagreeing. Kalumet means peace pipe and that’s what you get when you get there. It has this gnawa feel to it that on one hand brings you this sort of feeling that everything is ongoing and on the other there’s a feeling of relief or letting go when it’s over. This song was born in the studio when recording Stakhanovets. After that take of Stakhanovets we stayed on playing for a while and Kalumet came out. Sometimes you have twins and you won’t know until they are both out”.
As alluded to by Pedro in the interview, the ritual immersion that the band subject themselves to whilst recording, seemingly opens a portal, granting shamanic channelling and nourishing the transcendence of the finished work.
’10 000 Russos’ is an exhilarating debut LP, and one that I hope to see performed live in the very near future…
10 000 Russos debut LP was released on 20th May and is available in digital and cd formats. Vinyl in regular edition (limited to 500), and in deluxe edition (limited to 100), is available now for pre-order from Fuzz Club Records. The album is graced with fine sleeve artwork by the prodigious Olya Dyer.