Moscow Calling! The 10 Best Russian Producers Creating Killer Beats in the Cold
Ah! Russia. Home of onion domes, hammers, sickles, furry hats and the Russians that rock them. Plenty comes to mind when we think of the land up above, and after this list, really crunchy electronic beats will be one of them.
Not long ago, we started noticing that Moscow is a hotbed for electronica, and before long we discovered producers in far-reaching areas of the country, including the frigid tundra that is Siberia. There’s too much going on for anyone to ignore, so we’re packing the best ones up into this neat little list, just for you.
So slam a vodka shot and douse your goulash with some extra… er…Russian dressing. Here’s a list of our ten favorite producers making noise in Russia.
When glitch hop crash-landed in Russia and Moa Pillar discovered it, removed it from its meteorite casing, and brought it home to experiment on. Moa blends traditional Russian styles with so much freaking glitch that it’s pretty much unrecognizable. The tracks from his 2010 debut LP Plamya pack a deep punch. Could have guessed that a guy with glasses that thick is a genius.
We liked this. You could call his stuff 8bit, but it’s deeper than that. In addition to using sounds of video game systems now defunct, this Moscow producer incorporates organic and synthetic sounds into his music. When we first heard him, we made a bet that his favorite artists were Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada. When we spoke with him, it turned out they are Aphex Twin and Frank Zappa. Someone owes us half a drink.
We get it: a duo called Demokracy from one of the last nations to hold onto communism. Clever? Yes. Funny? Not after you hear their stuff. This pair of producers create the soundtrack to everyone’s nightmares, complete with spooky and scarcely discernable voice samples. Even when you hear “the last thing we want is to scare anybody” in one of their songs, it manages to scare the hell out of you.
Through the magic of sound processing, some Russian producers manage to convey the icy cold weather of their native land through their songs. Case in point: Moscow’s DZA. His synths sound like drops of water freezing and falling in synchronization, the drums are like snapping icicles. And yes, that is a Siberian Tiger lunging at you.
Not all Russian bands are channeling the tundra’s weather. Pompeya, a Moscow band, combine live instruments with synthesizers to create a sound between disco and 80s pop. It’s light and mellow stuff, like their track “Cheenese,” and slow and sexy like its video.
Out of so many producers in Russia, one of them has to be the nation’s answer to Flying Lotus. That one is Lapti. With ambient sounds and stuttery hip hop beats, Lapti’s music has the atmospheric qualities of FlyLo with a little Madlib flavor. The center for this style might be in LA right now, but there are contributers all over the world. This guy is one of the best.
Each of Maguett’s tracks takes on a different electronic beat style. The pace can be a breakbeat, a creeping dubstep rhythm, a boom bap beat, or four-to-the-floor. The common element is somber melody and incredibly thick production. Layer upon layer of sounds create a twisted, dream-like harmony. Hard to believe, but this guy is unsigned as yet.
Dude, what does that name mean!? Is a Miracle Libido one that jumps into action after a lifetime sans-sex drive? Or is it referring to some other mysterious part of the id? Regardless, this is slightly like that FlyLo-esque style shared by producers like Lapti, but off in its own direction. These two have even appeared on some of the same compilations.
Thanks to Noize MC, the world now knows that Russian cops can be real jerks. Following a brief prison stint, he released a video for a track called “10 Days in Paradise” depicting cops beating the living crap out of civilians in various settings. The footage was punctuated by dramatizations the artist himself in prison. Oh, the song is pretty hot too.
Unlike the other guys on this list, DJ Vadim has been around forever. Being born in the city formerly known as Leningrad in the country formerly known as the USSR, he titled many of his early releases (many of them on Ninja Tune) with the USSR: prefix. He’s done a ton of collaborations, including former hip hop project One Self and new hip hop project The Electric. He’s the most notable producer out of Russia to date, but if you haven’t heard his stuff, start with 1996’s USSR: Repertoire and make your way forward through time.