A history of Russian techno, mixed.
Electronic music from Russia has, for the most part, been criminally overlooked in the rest of the world, but that seems to be changing. The past few years have seen a new wave of Russian producers whose music resonates beyond their country's borders, the most intriguing of which might be Pavel Milyakov, a multidisciplinary artist who makes records as Buttechno. Milyakov became a musician sometime around 2010 when he played in the punk band Midnite Cobras. From there, he founded Johns Kingdom, a community of electronic artists from the suburbs of Russia. "After some time I understood that I wanted to write music 24/7," he wrote in an essay for INRUSSIA. Since then, he's forged a "musical language" as open-ended as it is distinct, drifting from fierce techno and electro to ambient breaks and guitar drones. His music has appeared on labels like The Trilogy Tapes and Moscow's GOST ZVUK, and soundtracked runway shows by the Russian fashion designer Gosha Rubchinskiy.
Milyakov's musical influences are eclectic—by his telling, they range from Japanese noise to musique concrete to psychedelic rockers Spacemen 3. Naturally, though, he has a special appreciation for the Russian techno artists who came before him. RA.631 is an introduction to this overlooked lineage. In Milyakov's own words: "It represents the history of Russian techno, like from '95 till now, with old and new sick and unknown producers, very talented and unappreciated musicians."
What have you been up to recently?
I've been working on new productions and a few ongoing projects.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded in my room, which is located in the Moscow suburbs.
Can you tell us about the idea of the mix?
Although now I'm mostly focused on rather experimental mixes and production, the theme of this mix is very important to me. It is a presentation of my favourite Russian techno pieces from the mid-'90s 'til the present. I've collated some works by old and mostly unknown artists like Motor and Lazy Fish, and mixed them with those by rising producers like Rodion Stankevich and Roma Zuckerman.
Russian context is what I'm exploring here as well: I've always had the impression that every style or genre starts mutating in its own unique way, having once reached this land from the outside. This is noticeable not only in the history of local music but also in that of literature, poetry and art in general. Speaking about the genre itself, it has always been a big influence and at the same time a huge mystery to me: how come these very simple constructions, in some rare cases, somehow start to work and generate a groove? It's actually quite rare that I find something of the genre that works well within this very simple form. It's even harder to find it here nowadays, when young artists are either experimenting with exciting new forms in search of new sounds and concepts or mainly just trying to replicate classic forms without being able to reproduce the spirit.
The hardest thing to achieve here is when it sounds on the verge of vulgarity, while still possessing its own effective structure, a groove which feels alive. It's exactly at this moment that the form dissolves and the only thing that remains is the groove working directly with your subconscious.
Tell us about the records in this mix. How did you become acquainted with them? Are they easy to find in Russia, or did you have to dig for them?
Most of them were not easy to find, especially the old ones. Some of them were released only as promo CDs, or small edition tapes, now available only as a rips, found in a local collectors' archives. The new ones are mostly unreleased material from local producers.
You've said the name Buttechno is a "mistake" and that you "found it in Yalta." Any chance you'd like to fill us in on the story there?
Ages ago a friend of mine gave me a tape recorder with a tape which was marked "Autechre" on it. The letters were not really accurate so I read it like "Buttechno." Distorted sound from the old speaker sounded the same as this weird name.
What are you up to next?
I'm working on the expansion of the RASSVET label, preparing new releases of local talents to be out there this year. I hope that my long awaited 2xLP release on Berceuse Heroique will be out soon too and a few more releases on different imprints. Also working hard on our one and only NII venue, helping my friends Ildar and Savier to make it better.