Releases

Lucidvox • That’s What Remained

Release Date: 17/11/2023
Format: CD/LP+DL/DL
Cat-No.: GBCD/LP 149

1. There Ahead (04:22)
2. Naidiya (06:55)
3. Don’t Look Away (04:23)
4. Wandering (03:12)
5. Hold Me (03:36)
6. All Frozen (04:36)
7. That’s What Remained (03:17)
8. On the Way (02:52)

“They’re a heavy, intense and mesmerising maelstrom of wind-tunnel vocals, drones, treated guitar and shamanic rhythms…with innate beauty too.” – Mojo

Lucidvox’s new album is vast-sounding. A collection of swirling ritual missives offered up in the hope of better times. Formerly based in Russia, for their new album That’s What Remained, the all-female quartet has added additional sonic thrust (horns, keyboards, strings, atmospheric textures) to their already acclaimed and impassioned psych-rock.

Speaking to Vogue in 1970, the 20th century modernist writer Vladimir Nabokov stated that, “The best part of a writer’s biography is not the record of his adventures but the story of his style.” This is an easily transferable maxim; style often being – if inadvertently – a clearer mirror to the soul than other artistic considerations.

Nabokov’s words could have been said of Lucidvox’s second long player, That’s What Remained: here, style reveals the soul.

The first thing that strikes the listener when diving in is the sheer scale, and breadth, of the sound. And the directness of the music. The outlines of the arrangements are drawn in with strong bold strokes using a thick, warm line. Closer inspection reveals a wealth of detail, and perspectives that surprise. Deliberate twists of a phrase, the odd synth passage or guitar lick add yet more emotional hinterland. The melodies are often simple, but determined and forced home to make their point; and though they resemble the playground rhymes documenting the childhood memories the band holds dear, maybe there is no time for being too clever, or allusive, right now. This is their style going forward, nothing here is given to chance, or left in as a beautiful accident.

That’s What Remained cannot be anything other than a Lucidvox record – that firebird quality they always had, the busy rhythms and spitting guitar runs, are still there. But it’s a work with a considerable presence; much more so than their debut, We Are. This is down to a number of factors, maybe the key one being the number of people involved. Lucidvox are a tight-knit, democratic band, used to making music together, alone. But when formulating this record they turned outwards, and asked trumpeter Timur Mizinov from Wooden Whales, violinist Dasha Avramova, guitarist Dmitry Chesnov and multi-instrumentalist Ella Bayisbaeva as a back vocalist to contribute; alongside a children’s choir(!). Guitarist Galla Gintovt mapped out the reason. “We wanted to have a bigger, more powerful sound. And when many people make music together, we can come together as one in the group; it’s different, an interesting experience for a musician when you are one of many.” The results were such that Galla, and drummer Nadya Samodurova both quipped they wanted to rename the band Lucidvox Orchestra. Samodurova noted: “Dima [Dmitry] came to the rehearsals and tried to make a bigger sound. Dima is magic; he has a good ear for music and plays his guitar instantly, to find the correct point where to add to the sound.” Vocalist Alina Evseeva: “All the musicians who played with us created their parts themselves. It wasn’t us suggesting it. It was coworking and co-curating.”

It is an oddly liturgical work, too. Devotions are made in sonic form, the songs often seem to be acting as ritual missives offered up in the hope of better times. The lyrics on single ‘There Ahead’ are indicative, and in their straightforwardness dovetail well with this new approach to structure: “Stay there, the lights will shine ahead / New flags of the new spring / You can’t break me / You can’t break me / You can’t break me / Peace to the world.”

Nadya sees this latter, “liturgical” development as natural, given their currently dislocated state. Due to the fallout from Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the band, scattered throughout Europe and the Middle East, hadn’t met up collectively for over a year, until the late summer of 2023. “It [the new approach] is because we became older and some situations forced us to grow up. The music grew up with us as well. We want to talk about these situations, like Covid and this war, not just in the lyrics but the music as well. We want to say something important and tell people about what is happening around us. We have very different topics now. You can maybe hear this.”

Bassist Anna Moskvitina noted that, “We first started the record back in 2020 and it carried on through some very uncertain years in our life, during which we had no stability under our feet. Maybe that translates a little bit in our music. When we started Lucidvox, Nadya wanted to make music that sounded like a fairy tale; using stories from childhood, and showing the difference between that and grown-up life.” Nadya: “I didn’t know what grown-up life was. Now I do. You need to do something with your life, you have to grow up because you need to, we all need to.”

When examining the record, it may be worth turning to another writer, Graham Caveney, who once wrote, “Who doesn’t want their experience to have a description? Yet who doesn’t want to be more than their diagnosis?” This is also a key element at play in That’s What Remained. Artfully and collectively constructed to convey their message, nothing here is wasted or done for the hell of it, as we have heard; but the band clearly hope that their new style can change their own narrative. Each track’s DNA tries to persuade the listener that Lucidvox see this record as a launchpad for other iterations of themselves. ‘There Ahead’ is a vast-sounding clarion call, a scene setter that leads the other songs onto this new stage, and sets up one of the band’s finest tracks, ‘Naidiya’, which is a great stop-start number: filmic, melancholy, and with a vulnerable underbelly. At its quietest, the song is reminiscent of the soundtrack of the 70’s Czechoslovakian surrealist horror film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. Still: guitars, keys and brass add drama and direction where necessary and the bass drum and toms play off each other, creating a sound that bobs up and down, like a buoy on the water.

Given time and circumstance, Lucidvox want to be understood as more than their current “diagnosis”. Although ‘Don’t Look Away’ harks back to their adrenaline-fuelled earlier works, the new focus adds emotional depth and steel. Their trick of making spitting, fiery guitar runs that almost trip over themselves in their haste is still here, but Lucidvox now know when to make way for other elements, such as the brass, which adds an uplifting note.

Their music is of the land, fecund, powerful and complex if you take time to investigate. Like the land, it may give birth to unexpected new forms. As singer Alina Evseeva says, their roots, historical, social, personal, are in this music. ‘Wandering’ is as the name suggests, and maybe as close to a musical take on tautology as you can get. Plaintive notes of guitar pick out a melody that is then embellished with trumpet. The guitar returns to rework the melody line; injecting Iommi-style rockisms as thick and unguent as molten chocolate. The trumpet part flutters around, like seagulls behind a tractor. ‘Hold Me’ uses the simple melody line as the framework for a track where the guitars spin thick webs of sound, doubling back on themselves, the patterns not dissimilar to those found on Amon Düül II’s 1970 album Yeti. Trumpets and keys add space and a sense of emotional hinterland. ‘All Frozen’ follows a similar path where the vocals – distant, almost numb at times – contrast sharply with the quicksand of electronic noise that the band have whipped up.

These punchy, repetitive, broad-brush tracks are at once recognisable and unsettling. For instance, the synth pattern that launches ‘That’s What Remained’ may be there to throw the listener off the scent: but the initial mathrock feel, with the off-beats and slightly arrhythmic patterns, gives way to a crushing, obvious rock song. ‘On The Way’ is a lament given shape by some drowsy, feedback-heavy guitars. Eventually the voices swell, soaring around the fuzz of kicked out by the axe work. But what, or who is lamented? Themselves?

Among other things, the term dissociation describes the process of ionic compounds being broken down into smaller particles and ions. The process of crystallisation allows each component part to be liberated from the other. It’s worth noting that, with a few exceptions, they can be reunited. You could take this process as a metaphor for the history of Lucidvox and their first new record since 2022. Plotted and rehearsed a handful of times before the band left Moscow, and built online over a year, the swapped files and code became the smaller particles of the (human) whole. The pathways these files negotiated also ran parallel to those trodden by the band members. What will happen when they meet, and play the music? Anna: “It’s like riding a bicycle. We will remember.” Galla “There are ten years of our friendship behind us: we are four girls, we try.” Anna, once again: “We have been together through other, very hard situations in these ten years, and we know each other very well: no need to talk.”

Lucidvox We Are

Release Date: 23/10/2020
Format: CD/LP+DL/DL
Cat-No: GBCD/LP 099

1. My Little Star (Звездочка) 05:52
2. Knife (Нож) 03:20
3. Amok (Амок) 04:47
4. You Are (Ты есть) 04:59
5. Body (Тело) 03:54
6. Sever (Север) 04:10
7. Runaway (Беглец) 05:20
8. Around (Вокруг) 04:46
9. Sirin (Сирин) 05:26

Firmly established as an influential voice in the burgeoning Russian DIY rock scene, Lucidvox’s incendiary mixture of atmospheric psych-rock, heavy riffs and Russian folk mystery has already gained them both critical attention and audience loyalty outside of their hometown of Moscow. We Are (мы есть) is their first international album release and the next element in their rapid rise.

Bands in which all or most of the members learn how to play their instruments just to be in the band are something of a special category in the history of popular music. British avant-gardists Wire and American roots hit-makers Creedence Clearwater Revival come to mind, as do, in varying degrees, post-punk legends like The Raincoats and The Slits. From such beginnings, the results can be quite compelling. The individual player’s inexperience becomes an asset―they are free to create without the burden of past prejudices―and the sound attains a mysterious balance. The sum becomes greater than its parts and a unique musical vocabulary is stitched together piece by piece. Musical skills are developed specifically for their usefulness in creating that collective sound. The Russian quartet Lucidvox are another one of these bands. And a great one at that.

Lucidvox comprises four women based in Moscow: Alina (vocals/flute), Nadezhda (drums), Galla (guitar) and Anna (bass). Formed in 2013, according to Galla their inception was “a bit like a joke. Because only Anna had had a band before. Me and Nadezhda hadn’t played our instruments before that.” Anna picks up the story: “We were all kind of friends, because we have a lot of mutual friends who play in other bands. That’s how we started to know each other, and slowly we got to the idea of creating our own band.”

The band’s original repertoire consisted of cover versions of songs by Sonic Youth, Pixies, White Stripes and Warpaint. While Lucidvox make it clear that none of these bands are an inspiration for their current sound, lead singer Alina does point out that “when we started, I think Warpaint was one of our influences because we went to see their concert in Moscow. And they are a girl band and we are a girl band … We share that experience.” Being in a ‘girl band’ was, from the beginning, an essential and empowering concept for Lucidvox. Alina continues: “This was a very big idea for us, because we have boyfriends in bands. And it was like, Hey, we want to make music also. But we couldn’t have imagined then that we would become a very serious band and be able to play in Europe and the UK. It’s like a dream.” Lucidvox quickly became a tight circle that encouraged musical experimentation, emotional honesty and future plans. Anna adds: “When we just started, we felt more safe and comfortable to play together―like a girls’ community―because we had just started playing.”
After a year or so of playing covers, the band began to assemble original material, which had its own sonic footprint. And like everything else in Lucidvox, the songwriting process was highly democratic from the start. There is no central songwriter in the band. The songs take shape both from contributions brought into the rehearsal space by any one of the members, and from subsequent collective improvisation and discussion. Anna describes it this way: “One of us will bring a certain riff on the guitar or something on the drums, and then we start to think altogether how to develop it into a song: what parts we can add, what type of lyrics will be there, what emotions we want to show.”

Unlike the majority of bands, this process allows all of them to contribute lyrics. According to Galla, the only requirement is that “when you have a text, you need to discuss with the other girls what you are trying to say.” The lyrics for the most part revolve around intense personal experiences. “Runaway”, the second single from We Are, is a good example, with Alina writing about her troubled brother, who eventually ended up in prison: “Where you run / There is only darkness and heat / What drives you are fear and pain / Believe.” The music for the track is epic, dream-like and widescreen, incorporating electric piano and trumpet, instruments that are new to the Lucidvox sonic palette. This deft, textured arrangement brings alive the complex dynamic between despair and hope found in the lyrics.

While Galla notes that the overall sound of the new album is “more powerful, more rock,” the band’s trademark post-Siouxsie-and-the-Banshees squall is now more nuanced than ever. There is more depth and space, and more sense of the majestic rumble that the band conjures up in a live setting―an experience in which the ensemble lays down an interlocked, almost Krautrock-like groove. Each element is perfectly in place, but is played with a savage intensity. “We really wanted to make an album that sounded how we really sound live,” says Anna, “and it seems like we did it.”

Along with the band’s growing confidence and heft of sound, more than ever they are committed to making music that directly reflects both who they are and where they are from. Even as their international reputation has grown, they have never considered singing songs in English. “Since we live here and speak this language,” Anna notes, “the most true way to express ourselves is with the Russian language. If we did it in English, we wouldn’t feel as honest as we do in Russian.” But this commitment to place doesn’t start and stop just with language. In the band’s sonic explorations, there has always been a subtle nod to Russian traditional music and folklore. As Alina says: “We have one song which is a traditional Russian folk song with Russian folk lyrics. But that sort of feeling is also there in other songs.” Galla adds: “I am interested in Russian folk tales, not only the music. We never consciously said ‘let’s play folk music.’ But it is in our music because some of us are interested or have been interested in it.”

Over the last five years or so, new exponents of the Russian underground rock and electronic scenes have slowly begun to be heard outside their home country. Lucidvox is at the front of this growing wave, along with Moscow’s Glintshake and the fast-rising St Petersburg band Shortparis. This generation of artists “understands you can play in other countries when you show your own country and your own culture,” says Galla, ‘and that makes the music more interesting, not only in Russia.”

Which brings us to the title of the new Lucidvox album, We Are, as in this is who we are. Both the album, and the ongoing trajectory of this powerful band, are linked to the search for identity: as a person, as a musician, as a member of a tightly knit group of creative women. Anna puts it this way: “The reason we called our album We Are is that now we feel like we can be ourselves. Very strong. Both in our personalities and in the band. We also at this point have some sort of place in the musical world.” With an album as uncompromising and exhilarating as this, Lucidvox’s place in the world is only going to get bigger and bigger.

Lucidvox

“They’re a heavy, intense and mesmerising maelstrom of wind-tunnel vocals, drones, treated guitar and shamanic rhythms…with innate beauty too.” – Mojo

Lucidvox’s new album is vast-sounding. A collection of swirling ritual missives offered up in the hope of better times. Formerly based in Russia, for their new album That’s What Remained, the all-female quartet has added additional sonic thrust (horns, keyboards, strings, atmospheric textures) to their already acclaimed and impassioned psych-rock.

Speaking to Vogue in 1970, the 20th century modernist writer Vladimir Nabokov stated that, “The best part of a writer’s biography is not the record of his adventures but the story of his style.” This is an easily transferable maxim; style often being – if inadvertently – a clearer mirror to the soul than other artistic considerations.

Nabokov’s words could have been said of Lucidvox’s second long player, That’s What Remained: here, style reveals the soul.

The first thing that strikes the listener when diving in is the sheer scale, and breadth, of the sound. And the directness of the music. The outlines of the arrangements are drawn in with strong bold strokes using a thick, warm line. Closer inspection reveals a wealth of detail, and perspectives that surprise. Deliberate twists of a phrase, the odd synth passage or guitar lick add yet more emotional hinterland. The melodies are often simple, but determined and forced home to make their point; and though they resemble the playground rhymes documenting the childhood memories the band holds dear, maybe there is no time for being too clever, or allusive, right now. This is their style going forward, nothing here is given to chance, or left in as a beautiful accident.

That’s What Remained cannot be anything other than a Lucidvox record – that firebird quality they always had, the busy rhythms and spitting guitar runs, are still there. But it’s a work with a considerable presence; much more so than their debut, We Are. This is down to a number of factors, maybe the key one being the number of people involved. Lucidvox are a tight-knit, democratic band, used to making music together, alone. But when formulating this record they turned outwards, and asked trumpeter Timur Mizinov from Wooden Whales, violinist Dasha Avramova, guitarist Dmitry Chesnov and multi-instrumentalist Ella Bayisbaeva as a back vocalist to contribute; alongside a children’s choir(!). Guitarist Galla Gintovt mapped out the reason. “We wanted to have a bigger, more powerful sound. And when many people make music together, we can come together as one in the group; it’s different, an interesting experience for a musician when you are one of many.” The results were such that Galla, and drummer Nadya Samodurova both quipped they wanted to rename the band Lucidvox Orchestra. Samodurova noted: “Dima [Dmitry] came to the rehearsals and tried to make a bigger sound. Dima is magic; he has a good ear for music and plays his guitar instantly, to find the correct point where to add to the sound.” Vocalist Alina Evseeva: “All the musicians who played with us created their parts themselves. It wasn’t us suggesting it. It was coworking and co-curating.”

It is an oddly liturgical work, too. Devotions are made in sonic form, the songs often seem to be acting as ritual missives offered up in the hope of better times. The lyrics on single ‘There Ahead’ are indicative, and in their straightforwardness dovetail well with this new approach to structure: “Stay there, the lights will shine ahead / New flags of the new spring / You can’t break me / You can’t break me / You can’t break me / Peace to the world.”

Nadya sees this latter, “liturgical” development as natural, given their currently dislocated state. Due to the fallout from Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the band, scattered throughout Europe and the Middle East, hadn’t met up collectively for over a year, until the late summer of 2023. “It [the new approach] is because we became older and some situations forced us to grow up. The music grew up with us as well. We want to talk about these situations, like Covid and this war, not just in the lyrics but the music as well. We want to say something important and tell people about what is happening around us. We have very different topics now. You can maybe hear this.”

Bassist Anna Moskvitina noted that, “We first started the record back in 2020 and it carried on through some very uncertain years in our life, during which we had no stability under our feet. Maybe that translates a little bit in our music. When we started Lucidvox, Nadya wanted to make music that sounded like a fairy tale; using stories from childhood, and showing the difference between that and grown-up life.” Nadya: “I didn’t know what grown-up life was. Now I do. You need to do something with your life, you have to grow up because you need to, we all need to.”

When examining the record, it may be worth turning to another writer, Graham Caveney, who once wrote, “Who doesn’t want their experience to have a description? Yet who doesn’t want to be more than their diagnosis?” This is also a key element at play in That’s What Remained. Artfully and collectively constructed to convey their message, nothing here is wasted or done for the hell of it, as we have heard; but the band clearly hope that their new style can change their own narrative. Each track’s DNA tries to persuade the listener that Lucidvox see this record as a launchpad for other iterations of themselves. ‘There Ahead’ is a vast-sounding clarion call, a scene setter that leads the other songs onto this new stage, and sets up one of the band’s finest tracks, ‘Naidiya’, which is a great stop-start number: filmic, melancholy, and with a vulnerable underbelly. At its quietest, the song is reminiscent of the soundtrack of the 70’s Czechoslovakian surrealist horror film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. Still: guitars, keys and brass add drama and direction where necessary and the bass drum and toms play off each other, creating a sound that bobs up and down, like a buoy on the water.

Given time and circumstance, Lucidvox want to be understood as more than their current “diagnosis”. Although ‘Don’t Look Away’ harks back to their adrenaline-fuelled earlier works, the new focus adds emotional depth and steel. Their trick of making spitting, fiery guitar runs that almost trip over themselves in their haste is still here, but Lucidvox now know when to make way for other elements, such as the brass, which adds an uplifting note.

Their music is of the land, fecund, powerful and complex if you take time to investigate. Like the land, it may give birth to unexpected new forms. As singer Alina Evseeva says, their roots, historical, social, personal, are in this music. ‘Wandering’ is as the name suggests, and maybe as close to a musical take on tautology as you can get. Plaintive notes of guitar pick out a melody that is then embellished with trumpet. The guitar returns to rework the melody line; injecting Iommi-style rockisms as thick and unguent as molten chocolate. The trumpet part flutters around, like seagulls behind a tractor. ‘Hold Me’ uses the simple melody line as the framework for a track where the guitars spin thick webs of sound, doubling back on themselves, the patterns not dissimilar to those found on Amon Düül II’s 1970 album Yeti. Trumpets and keys add space and a sense of emotional hinterland. ‘All Frozen’ follows a similar path where the vocals – distant, almost numb at times – contrast sharply with the quicksand of electronic noise that the band have whipped up.

These punchy, repetitive, broad-brush tracks are at once recognisable and unsettling. For instance, the synth pattern that launches ‘That’s What Remained’ may be there to throw the listener off the scent: but the initial mathrock feel, with the off-beats and slightly arrhythmic patterns, gives way to a crushing, obvious rock song. ‘On The Way’ is a lament given shape by some drowsy, feedback-heavy guitars. Eventually the voices swell, soaring around the fuzz of kicked out by the axe work. But what, or who is lamented? Themselves?

Among other things, the term dissociation describes the process of ionic compounds being broken down into smaller particles and ions. The process of crystallisation allows each component part to be liberated from the other. It’s worth noting that, with a few exceptions, they can be reunited. You could take this process as a metaphor for the history of Lucidvox and their first new record since 2022. Plotted and rehearsed a handful of times before the band left Moscow, and built online over a year, the swapped files and code became the smaller particles of the (human) whole. The pathways these files negotiated also ran parallel to those trodden by the band members. What will happen when they meet, and play the music? Anna: “It’s like riding a bicycle. We will remember.” Galla “There are ten years of our friendship behind us: we are four girls, we try.” Anna, once again: “We have been together through other, very hard situations in these ten years, and we know each other very well: no need to talk.”