MUMIY TROLL: Acquiring a Taste for Caviar
When Mumiy Troll refused to give the name of their forthcoming album, simply announcing that it consisted of four letters, you can imagine what sort of words sprang in to mind (in Russian, sex is a four-letter word). This was only to be expected. And, although the title actually turns out to be «Ikra» (caviar), the original premise would have lost none of the spirit of the latest compositions. The tracks fuse together into an ironic and erotic waterfall which leaves you wondering why other bands have to be so dull and dim-witted.
Recently, British researchers discovered a gene which governs the human intellect. Consequently, if someone is stupid it’s not because he hasn’t read enough books, but because he simply lacks the biological wherewithal. Ilia Lagoutenko became a star in the twinkling of an eye. Proving from the outset that he wasn’t lacking in the genes department, he wasted no time in demonstrating that rock’n’roll is neither nuclear physics nor a shortcut to fame and fortune. And, more importantly, the charismatic lead singer, with his raw energy, biting sarcasm and catchy choruses, is at present perhaps the only truly vital singer on the Russian music scene. The rest are either crushing bores, fools, or just con-artists.
Mumiy Troll revealed the title of their latest album at a special ceremony in Moscow, which took place on November 21. By the following day, available copies of «Ikra» — priced between 54,000–75,000 roubles -had all but sold out in St. Petersburg record stores. As New Year’s approaches, it may well be competing for the title of «Best Album of the Year». Competing, that is, with their own debut album. «Morskaya» (meaning «Naval») which was released in the spring to rave reviews. The band from far-off Vladivostok recorded both albums in London- and these cosmopolitan beginnings speak volumes about their future prospects. From the outset, fans and critics were struck by the freshness of Mumiy Troll sound, which had managed to shrug off the legacy of Russky Rok (Russian Rock) with apparent nonchalance. Of course there are still plenty of artists making a good living on the back of the Russian rock tradition. Chizh and Spleen, for example, remain devoted disciples of the cause. Mumiy Troll neatly skipped this teething stage (their only nod to Soviet rock roots being the song «A Disciple of the Fallen Star», a rather awkward attempt at aping BG’s trademark lyrical style).
Ilia Lagoutenko `s irony is expressed in his apparently awkward phraseology and the obviously nonsensical topics of his lyrics. In «Ikra», the sound has been simplified while the rhythms boast a renewed energy. The average age of fans has also taken nosedive: where their elders were captivated by the intellectual posturings of «Morskaya», the passion of the second album addresses the emotional demands of a younger generation. It remains to be seen how many times Mumiy Troll can change their audience before there are no more worlds to conquer.