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Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture'
Популярная Механика 'Насекомая культура'

New Composers Valery Alakhov and Igor Verichev (sound collages)
Sergey Kuryokhin (synthesizers, composer), Igor Butman (saxophone)• .
Новые Композиторы Валерий Алахов и Игорь Веричев
Сергей Курёхин, Игорь Бутман
Photographs: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov • (E-E) Евгений Козлов
recorded 1985, Leningrad
released 1987 by Ark Records, Liverpool

Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture' Популярная Механика 'Насекомая культура'

photo: Valery Alakhov

In the spring of 1985, British film director Richard Denton came to Leningrad for a documentary about Sergey Kuryokhin. He had been refused official permission, and the film was based on private scenes, without any public Pop Mekhanika performances. It did, however, show a small session at the LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers. “Comrades: All that Jazz” was broadcast on BBC on December 1, 1985 as the third of a total of twelve documentaries on life in the Soviet Union. Through Denton, Liverpool audio and sound expert Colin Fallows established a contact with Sergey Kuryokhin. Fallows had previously edited the record “Dada For Now (A Collection Of Futurist And Dada Sound Works)” and was interested in new avant-garde music.

Sergey Kuryokhin invited New Composers (Новые Композиторы) Valery Alakhov and Igor Verichev to take part in the project. In 1984, Alakhov and Verichev had started to experiment with sound collages – Soviet melodies and speeches, as well as technical sounds and noises – “industrial avant-garde”. The New Composers immediately made themselves a name with their innovating sampling, which they did at home, using little more than a high quality tape recorder and chrome tapes.

For the joint project with Kuryokhin, they created new material, from which Kuryokhin made a selection. He did the final (secret) recording in 1985, at the House of Radio, with his synthesizer improvisations and Igor Butman on saxophone. Kuryokhin also added “Tibetan Tango”, a composition he had recorded earlier with the band “Aquarium”. However, “Insect Culture’s” predominant sound is that of Alakhov´s and Verichev’s collages, some of which they later re-used in their own projects, while the remaining material is still waiting to be released. Kuryokhin's master tape was given to Colin Fallows.

Cover Photograph

Sergey Kuryokhin asked (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov to create the LP cover design. It was Kozlov´s second cover after “Nachalnik Kamchatki” for KINO the year before more >>. He decided to invite Kuryokhin, Alakhov and Verichev to a photo shoot in the centre of Leningrad, in the street and inside the “Passage” building, a historical, then socialist shopping mall. There is also a spectacular shoot of the New Composers standing on a rooftop, displaying the skyline of Leningrad.

Kozlov borrowed a medium format film camera (6x6 cm) from his friend Evgeny Yufit, an artist, photographer and filmmaker. When processing the black-and-white film, the size of the negatives allowed Kozlov to draw into the moist emulsion not simply patterns, as he often did, but figurative elements and elaborate designs. These drawings look quite striking, especially on his vintage prints, which he also coloured. For instance, in the above-mentioned picture with the skyline of Leningrad, a huge angel extends his arm towards Alakhov and Verichev, emitting hieroglyphic (letter) sounds.

Kuryokhin selected an unusual top view for the LP cover. Kozlov took it from on a pedestrian bridge on the first floor of the “Passage”, looking down on the visitors. He asked the three musicians to walk towards the bridge with quick steps. The idea was to freeze the movement with his camera, similar to Iain Macmillan’s famous picture of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road. Macmillian had also been standing above the group of musicians, on a ladder. In fact, just as the Beatles had to walk back and forth for the photographer until Macmillian captured the magic moment, so had the “Pop Mechanics” musicians for Kozlov. The main difference was that Macmillian took six pictures and Kozlov – one.

This shoot fixes the very moment Verichev looked up to him while the others were caught in their own thoughts. The motion makes their bodies and faces blur (unlike those of the other visitors). Yet this momentary eye contact creates an intense interaction between photographer and musician. In 2017, Kozlov explained such a relation as an invisible “dotted line”: it cuts through the blur. Time comes to a still-stand. Unfortunately the record sleeve has a very dark version of the picture, which makes this effect less obvious. Many details that are clearly visible in the original negative have disappeared.

Kozlov printed the pictures in his own laboratory. From a total of eighteen exposures preserved, ten are still available in his own collection as vintage prints. Two pictures document the above-mentioned session arranged for Richard Denton’s BBC documentary. These two prints are added at the bottom of the page. In other words, at the time of the filming for the BBC documentary, the idea of a joint production by Kuryokhin, Alakhov and Verichev already existed.

Colin Fallows released “Insect Culture” on “Ark Records” (Liverpool) in 1987. Fallows also designed the title and created the reverse with ants and a text by Olivia Lichtenstein. The reaction of music critics was quite enthusiastic. One critic states, "At various points, I thought my roof was leaking, my walls were shaking, my plumbing bursting and that next door neighbours were involved in some noisy, unshapely coupling involving utensils and lawn-movers." (See bottom of the page for the full review.)

"Insect Culture" was the first LP to carry the name “Popular Mechanics”.  The same year London based Leo Records released “Introduction in Popular Mechanics” from 1986. In the Soviet Union, the name "Популярная Механика" or “Popular Mechanics” officially appears for the first time only in 1988.

The album was re-released by SoLyd Records, Moscow, in 1998 (cassette, CD) with more pictures by Evgenij Kozlov.

Hannelore Fobo, January 6, 2018

 Популярная Механика 'Насекомая культура'  Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture', Cassette sleeve, cover (SoLyd Records), 1998


Популярная Механика 'Насекомая культура'
Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture', Cassette sleeve, cover (SoLyd Records), 1998

Популярная Механика 'Насекомая культура' Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture', Cassette sleeve, interior side (SoLyd Records), 1998 Top picture from a Pop Mekhanika performance for the documentary "Dialogues" (1986). more >> Bottom picture E-E-pho-EG12 from the photo shoot (see below). The picutre was printed mirror inverted.

Популярная Механика 'Насекомая культура'
Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture', Cassette sleeve, interior side (SoLyd Records), 1998
Top picture from a Pop Mekhanika performance for the documentary "Dialogues" (1986). more >>
Bottom picture E-E-pho-EG12 from the photo shoot (see below). The picutre was printed mirror inverted.




Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture' Популярная Механика 'Насекомая Культура' photo: (E-E) Evgenj Kozlov 1985. Cover design by Collin Fallows LP cover, offset print, 31.3 x 31 cm, Ark Records, Liverpool, 1987

Popular Mechanics 'Insect Culture'
Популярная Механика 'Насекомая Культура'
photo: (E-E) Evgenj Kozlov 1985.
Cover design by Collin Fallows
LP cover, offset print, 31.3 x 31 cm, Ark Records, Liverpool, 1987




 E-E-pho-EG13  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Valery Alakhov (with white T-shirt), Sergey Kuryokhin, Igor Verichev. Passage shopping mall, 1985 negative scan


E-E-pho-EG13

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Valery Alakhov (with white T-shirt), Sergey Kuryokhin, Igor Verichev.
Passage shopping mall, 1985
negative scan




 E-E-pho-EG12  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Igor Verichev, Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov. Passage shopping mall, 1985 negative scan


E-E-pho-EG12

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Igor Verichev, Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985
negative scan




 E-E-pho-EG11  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, Nevsky Prospect. Coloured print. 29.7 x 21 cm. The Anastasia Kuryokhina Collection.

E-E-pho-EG11

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, Nevsky Prospect.
Coloured print. 29.7 x 21 cm. The Anastasia Kuryokhina Collection.




E-E-187131-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Igor Verichev, Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985 Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985


E-E-187131-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Igor Verichev, Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985

Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-187136-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Passage shopping mall, 1985 Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187136-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985

Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-187137-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Igor Verichev, (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Valery Alakhov. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985 photo by Sergey Kuryokhin Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187137-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Igor Verichev, (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Valery Alakhov. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985
photo by Sergey Kuryokhin

Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-187132-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev, Sergey Kuryokhin. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985  Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187132-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev, Sergey Kuryokhin. 'Passage' shopping mall, 1985

Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-187132-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev, Leningrad, 1985  Painted vintage print, approx 30 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187132-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev, Leningrad, 1985

Painted vintage print, approx 30 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-187135-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985  Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187135-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Sergey Kuryokhin, Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985

Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-187129-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985  Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187129-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985

Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-187129-1985  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985  Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187129-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985

Painted vintage print, approx 40 x 30 cm, 1985




 E-E-pho-EG62  (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985 negative scan

E-E-pho-EG62

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Valery Alakhov, Igor Verichev. Leningrad, 1985
negative scan




LTO-81, 1985



 E-E-187133-1985 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Timur Novikov, Igor Verichev, Andrey Krisanov. LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers. Backstage scene during a BBC documentary filming of Pop Mekahnika (“Comrades: All that Jazz”) Painted vintage print, approx 35 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187133-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Timur Novikov, Igor Verichev, Andrey Krisanov. LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers. Backstage scene during a BBC documentary filming of Pop Mekahnika (“Comrades: All that Jazz”)

Painted vintage print, approx 35 x 30 cm, 1985




 Andrey Krisanov. LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers. Still from Richard Denton's BBC documentary “Comrades: All that Jazz” (1985)

Andrey Krisanov.

LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers.

Still from Richard Denton's BBC documentary “Comrades: All that Jazz” (1985)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usjTBKrHlMU




 E-E-187134-1985 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Igor Verichev. LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers. Backstage scene during a BBC documentary filming of Pop Mekahnika (“Comrades: All that Jazz”). Painted vintage print, approx 35 x 30 cm, 1985

E-E-187134-1985

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Igor Verichev. LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers. Backstage scene during a BBC documentary filming of Pop Mekahnika (“Comrades: All that Jazz”).

Painted vintage print, approx 35 x 30 cm, 1985




Igor Verichev and Georgy Guryanov. LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers. Still from Richard Denton's BBC documentary “Comrades: All that Jazz” (1985)

Igor Verichev and Georgy Guryanov.

LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers.

Still from Richard Denton's BBC documentary “Comrades: All that Jazz” (1985)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usjTBKrHlMU


Press review (unknown publication and author). approx 1987


Picture by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov (E-E-pho-EG11)
Picture by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
(E-E-pho-EG11, see above)

There’s some old noises twitching ’neath the plastic on Insect Culture, a new LP on Ark Records by Leningrad’s leading underground group, Popular Mechanics. At various points, I thought my roof was leaking, my walls were shaking, my plumbing bursting and that next door neighbours were involved in some noisy, unshapely coupling involving utensils and lawn-movers. That was just in the first minute.

Led by 33-year-old Sergei Kuriokhin, Mechanics includes, in its fullest form, five rock groups, a folklore group, several well-known jazz soloists, an electronic sound group, an industrial section, a group of physicists who create effects, a theatrical cast and a string chamber orchestra. Phew! Frowned on by the authorities back home, the group can only organise concerts when they succeed in persuading someone to provide them with a venue, though I imagine the biggest difficulty would be finding a building that could fit all the buggers in at any one time.

On a crackly phone-link, Kuriokhin tells me that he’d like to develop this to the point where it included not only music, but absolutely everything that goes on in the world.

“From space rockets to God knows what! I want people to come to our concerts to sit open-mouthed without understanding what’s going on, around, where, who or what they are. We’re now experimenting a great deal with physics, chemistry and zoology. I’ve always like the idea that Caligula made a horse a senator. It’s a complete repudiation of the structure of reality. So I can’t help thinking, if Caligula made a horse a senator, why can’t I bring pigs on stage?”

Why not indeed? Describing his influences as a random grab-bag of classical, Indian, Spanish, jazz, European avant-garde, traditional Soviet folk, operatic, electronic and rock, Kuriokhin says that their performance will naturally depend on their mood that particular day. “It’s never too planned out,” he explains, “and we tend to do one thing at the rehearsal and something completely different at the actual concert. I find that what I like best changes very quickly. What I like today may be different from what I like in half an hour.”

Ark, home of 1985’s extraordinary Dada For Now collection, see Popular Mechanics as contemporary inheritors oft he Dada spirit. Eclectic or what? Not to be played when you’re pouring the gravy. Contact Ark at PO Box 45, Liverpool L69 2LE JW

(author not identified)



Uploaded January 6, 2018