Monday, February 22, 2010

"But I won't go into exile, see?"


Long before the collapse of Soviet Russia, it was not a fashionable thing to satirize or use ironically the art and images of communism. In the 70s, after having released my first nun logo image on t-shirts for Space Pirate Radio, I was seized with the idea to do one that seemed flagrantly pro fellow traveller. I came up with a mock image of the Soviet flag, yellow letters on a red background. Instead of hammer and sickle, I made it a tone arm and sickle with vinyl record. Revolution through music, eh comrade? In the 70s, when the first batch of shirts came out, it was an act of courage or foolery to wear one. A few of my listeners recounted stories of verbal abuse, "hey, commie, go back to Russia," not getting the joke at all. To me it was a giggle. We import freaks loved the ads for Rasputin Records in the Bay Area, and when I hooked up with Rockpile Records in Goleta, I liked to call them "Stanislaus Pro Ruskie Rekord Shop." Where else can you buy new single by Polizei State featuring Stingski singing "Roxanne, you don't have to call out the Red Brigade"? But I digress.

When I celebrated my 10th anniversary with Space Pirate Radio, I redid the shirt in 1984 as a commemorative issue. You can see in picture beautiful blonde Ukrainian boy modeling same with a Mr. Thomas Dolby of "She Blinded Me With Science" fame. As you can see, I am dazzling him so much, he has to wear sunglasses. He just happened to stop by to visit radio show. Oh, how we make so many friends in old country. That was nice visit. But I digress again.

Ironically, over years playing so much experimental music from countries around the world, Russia was never one to pop up a lot in import bin. Fortunately, that was rectified in post-2000 shows when I was contacted by Russian electronic composer, Artemiy Artemiev. His father is Edward Artemiev, masterful soundtrack composer of great Russian movies, including Andrei Tarkovsky's original Solaris. Artemiy is a very gracious person, an electronic composer from the school of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and early Vangelis. I'm not sure if he would enjoy the comparison, but one is quick to think of him and his father in the same way as Jean Michel Jarre and Maurice Jarre, except that I think there is a real love between father and son, rather than the estrangement between the Jarres. Either way, it was extremely flattering for Artemiy to contact me because of the show and sent me the incredibly varied work that he has been doing on his Russian label, Electroshock Records. Although I have not met the man, it is heartwarming to be invited by him to visit him in St. Petersburg for his collective efforts in bringing the electronic music community together. I appreciate his enthusiasm and graciousness and the personal greetings that he sent, saying "Thank you for your support. From Russia, with love, Artemiy."

So with Stoli in hand, I say best wishes to all the utopians.