The Russian city of Izhevsk is known for three things: a Kalashnikov factory, Udmurtian shamans, and the so-called Izhevsk wave. Unlikely enough, the capital of Russia’s Udmurtia region, a remote former industrial town, became the forefront of Soviet underground electronica in the 80. Bands like Stuk bambuka v XI chasov, Samtsy Dronta, Virgo Intacta, D-Pulse, and Sportloto pioneered synth-influenced dreamy electronica in the USSR and inspired a new generation of Russian musicians, including the prolific pop diva Kedr Livansky.
In the 90s, Izhevsk’s musicians started to gain recognition on the international music scene and liaised with labels in the Netherlands and the UK. But the financial collapse of 1998, along with internal conflicts in the local creative community, put an end to the Izhevsk wave.
Although Russian Bristol never happened, the impact of the wave can still be felt amongst new generations of musicians. ABCD, an Izhevsk-based music label and collective, was established over the past few years in the spirit of the Izhevsk wave to nurture talent in Russia’s neglected regions. Their РЕГИОН festival, an electronic music festival in Izhevsk, as well as their showcase in Moscow’s Mutabor space, were amongst the industry’s highlights in 2019.
ABCD represents rising musicians from the regions, although some well-established members of the Russian music scene sometimes make an appearance as mentors. Unlike many independent music labels, ABCD doesn’t gasp for the elusive air of favouring contemporary dance music over elaborated experimental electronica, and it strives to nurture the spirit of innovation and rule-defying experimentation of the original Izhevsk wave.
The latest release, ABCD 002, features musicians from as far as Magadan and Omsk to Yekaterinburg and Nizhniy Novgorod, as well as local Udmurtian talent from Izhevsk and the region’s second city, Votkinsk. Inspired by the bleak look of deserted airports during the Covid-19 pandemic, ABCD collected sounds from all over the country to compile what they describe as “the soundtrack for the near future, when another virus will reduce the Earth’s population by half.”
“The images of abandoned airports made us think of the music that would be heard from loudspeakers on the day when the last passenger left the boarding area, exiling airports from the memory of men forever,” ABCD shared in the promo statement of the release.
You can listen to the album here.