New documentary Elektro Moskva retraces USSR’s experimental electronic and noise music scene, deep from the bedrooms of former Soviets who assembled stolen KGB bugs, transistors and run-off industrial trinkets of all sorts into new machines and modulators. They start from Léon Theremin and then it gets very strange.
ELEKTRO MOSKVA (Electro Moscow) is an essayistic documentary about the Soviet electronic age and its legacy. The story begins with the inventor of the world’s first electronic instrument, Leon Theremin, unveiling the KGB’s huge pile of fascinating devices, some of which were musical. They all came into existence as a by-product of a rampant defense industry. Nowadays, those aged and abandoned ‘musical coffins’, as solidly made as a Kalashnikov, are being recycled and reinterpreted by the post-Soviet generations of musicians, sound collectors and circuit benders. The story of the Soviet synthesizers as an allegory to the everyday life under the Soviet system: nothing works, but you have to make the best out of it. An electronic fairy tale about the inventive spirit of the free mind inside the iron curtain- and beyond.
It opens next week in Russia, and hopefully in the US, soon, because I really need to hear what the guy clanking a metal stick into the decrepit innards of a rotting warehouse — so he bring the field recording home and feed it through his Frankensteined circuitry — has to say. Please.