The most counterintuitive and paradoxical of Moscow bands has for all its conscious history stood aside of fads and trends, always tending a garden all its own. This has played a trick on the band, though—Vezhlivy Otkaz can’t be pigeonholed into the confines of any one genre or style, so it’s a rare guest at musical festivals, for one thing (for some reason, most promoters dismiss the band as “not fest material,” although as the closing act at the 3Fest in Electrougli two years ago VO was incredibly persuasive as the headliner, no less!), but it is unique and unlike any other—on a global scale, I dare say. Roman Suslov, the band’s leader and mastermind, is more than a recluse living out in the back country, shunning the hustle and bustle of the city; he is also an explorer of the worlds of sound and melody. Here I will, as is my wont, use the term “circle of musical studies” that stuck to the band ages ago, but that’s exactly what it is: Suslov and associates take a phenomenon and start turning it every which way, inspecting and dissecting, before putting it back together in sound. And this they do within the tradition of composed music, which is so clearly atypical of today’s rock scene.
This time the thing being dissected is war. As a slogan, as an ideologeme of confrontation, as a phenomenon that is unhealthy, unnatural to begin with but apparently necessary to the humanity. As deformation—mental, but physical as well, as destruction. What started nine years ago with a thought about Soviet-era war songs and continued with the spooky “klezmer” of “We Will Win” ended in the War Songs—a fierce, somewhat atonal, unique musical look of an inquisitive natural philosopher and a perfectionist at the very essence of what’s next to us all the time, approaching before receding before approaching again. Perhaps one has to push off the word “war” to appreciate the understated beauty of this music, to see the inner harmony among these layers, to get the feel for the game, to appreciate the inherent irony—and to finally get the band we are lucky to have among our contemporaries.