The former outfit, known as The Postman of Nobel are – currently – a quartet: “Yuka” (vocals, guitars), Aleksandr Vlasov (drums), Roman Romanov (bass), and Evgenii Gorin (“ideology”). They began working together five years ago, thanks – we’re told – to the sage philosophy of Mr. Gorin.
More specifically, the band hoped to enact a worldview encapsulated in their stage name. They decipher that moniker as follows: “Musicians are like postmen, bearing a certain message. And as for the term ‘Nobel,’ well… that embodies mankind’s most valuable and important achievements. Consequently, the ensemble plays the role of messengers or postmen, carrying those values with them…”
These (extremely) lofty goals have been maintained from the outset. As a sign of fidelity to all things nobel, the band has a private, annual tradition of performing at a local aeronautical museum – on a national
holiday dedicated to cosmonauts: 12th April. Perhaps as a result of such starry-eyed enthusiasm, the group has moved quickly across the map with its touring schedule; physical geography must seem paltry when compared to the cosmos. Mashtakov and colleagues have already begun playing in some of Moscow’s more fashionable clubs.
That “capital” success raises the issue of why critical and/or public interest arose so fast. The musicians may have worked hard but why, precisely, has anybody responded with equal levels of enthusiasm? Full, as ever, of zeal, these artists offer an answer – and quickly.
“Musical critics have differed in their view of our style. They use various definitions, ranging from indie or post-rock to dark-wave. Nonetheless, each and every concert is transformed into a kind of magical or shamanistic act… And that, after all, is precisely what one would expect during a display of real music…”
The grand rhetoric continues, but those first few words are enough to set the tone. Facts and figures recede in a blur of enthused activity.
Most interesting, however, is the juxtaposition of that “astral” or operatic vein with the band’s lyrics. The Postman of Nobel do, as suggested, sit firmly within a shoegazing, post-rock tradition, yet the scale and volume of their performance is used to advocate themes of extreme introversion or estrangement. Volume works to the benefit of solitude.
The band sings in English – and those lyrics can, as a result, sound rather byzantine; nonetheless, their page at Vkontakte also includes the Russian originals. One version balances the other. The English stanzas, due to their rather “free” transferral from another language, bolster the fuzzy, drug-addled aura of the music. A lack of clarity merely underscores the theme of social retreat; crashing chords serve not to announce the arrival of some SOR posturing, but the opposite. A wall of sound keeps the public at bay; behind it sit five reticent romantics.
One of the tracks on display here begins: “Shivering from handshaking/ From all your mind-traps/ I’m talked through./ Be silent to me, be quiet/ Please…/ Look! The air is turned inside-out/ Roads run to themselves/ We have to walk the desert…/ The desert of silence. It’s quiet/ So far….”
A closer investigation will only increase that distance – either physically or semantically.
The track “Perfect God” goes further still – in a related grammatical fog: “My eyes dive back in a reverie/ You smile at me in the haze./ There lives perfect God – in every/ Your farewell gaze…” Perfection is discerned in parting; absence is more desirable than presence.