Yanka

Upon hosting a live set on my WFMU show from Pink Reason (which was at that particular time just a solo Kevin Failure) back in 2006, I learned about the years Kevin spent with his relocated American parents in 1990’s Siberia, and also learned some history of what was surely a rich but uber-contained underground punk and psychedelic rock scene going on. A couple years earlier, Igor from Kim’s record store in NYC had already floated me a CD of Opizdenevshie which I really dug, couldn’t quite assimilate to anything else in contempo psych-punk, and wanted to know more. I later found out that this band had done music with Egor Letov, an Omsk-born avant-protest-punk who had laid a pretty intensive foundation for mid-to-late 80’s Soviet underground music, particularly in the band Grazhdanskaya Oborona. A few months ago after Kevin had settled down in Brooklyn, I jumped at the opportunity when he offered to bring out some of his collected sounds from the then-Soviet (and especially Siberian) underground; the three hour show’s archived here. Pretty much everything he brought down blew me away, especially the LP Stid I Sram by a Novosibirsk-born woman named Yanka (AKA Yana Stanislavovna Dyagileva). During her 1988-91 presence on what was a super tight-knit scene, she was the significant other of Letov playing in assorted combos as well, and he played on her records in turn. Yanka was found dead in 1991, drowned in a river with the official tag of suicide, though apparently that’s been somewhat debated. That particular debate can surely be fueled by the track “Pridyot Voda” which Kevin played, an epic, 9 minute fiery folk-punk anthem with Yanka spitting out angry verse after verse, literally referring to the act of drowning before the song leaps into a devastating, swirling organ solo that wouldn’t sound out of place on a noise record. It’s really incredible, but apologies for the short skip within the MP3 (right below) due to the vinyl not being in optimal shape. Letov, by the way, passed away from heart failure in 2008, and Kevin did a tribute performance in tribute to him, which you can check out some of on You Tube. (brian turner)

Yanka: “Prodyot Voda” (MP3)

Some more songs (including a solo video clip, hard to find much more):