Chernobyl in popular culture - Part II

Music from the Zone.

I've spent only a short time researching in what other ways Chernobyl may have influenced contemporary popular culture, but thanks to some allies, I have found out a lot more that I'd be able to just on my own, and that kind of defines this entire project: I want you to participate; to write to be about what you know that I don't know and together we may reach a point of mutual exchange. Thus, I thank everyone who has contributed and who will.

Now, we can understand how people visit the Zone for the sake of taking epic and dramatic photos, and we understand those who want to make other graphic works based on the site and what happened and the remains, and even those who write stories based on Chernobyl (we'll return to that subject in a future post), but music? How can you make music based on such a theme?

Stating the obvious, music is art, just like photography, painting, graphics, writing and so on, and there  is a fair amount of bands that have made songs based on the Chernobyl disaster, and let's start out lightly:

This Ukrainian group is called Skryabin (Скрябін). They are from the west of Ukraine and founded in 1989. They known for, amongst other things, changing style several times during their carreer. This song, Chernobyl Forever, (2006) (Чорнобиль форева), is a sarcastic  tounge-in-cheek piece about Chernobyl and how the problems  still lingering are swept under the carpet. The text in the end of the video means "We want a future without Chernobyl".

For Skryabin, it was perhaps a one time statement, but there are those who've made the matters of Chernobyl into a more serious business:

Another Ukrainian group is Asfalt (Асфальт), who founded in 2006 as a more or less direct reaction to the disaster. An important part of Asfalt's theme is based on Chernobyl and they refer to their own music as gas-mask rock. Trying to describe this gas mask rock and what it really sounds like, you can say that this self-invented genre constitutes a good gathering title for a number of influences from different genres, because since the beginning of their history, Asfalt have already explored the territories of glam rock, punk, industrial/goth and even flirted with death metal. If you want to learn more about the many faces of Asfalt, I suggest you take  a look at their website (in Russian only). 

Their most famous song is doubtlessly Chernobyl Dust (Чернобыльская Пыль); the music video is based on a S.T.A.L.K.E.R theme and in 2008, the song was made a part of the soundtrack of the low budget S.T.A.L.K.E.R movie Trump Card (Козырь).

Since then, the group have participated in other S.T.A.L.K.E.R related productions, and  their latest production, the first of their two part album Chernobyl: Top Secret (Чернобыль: Совершенно секретно) is strongly influenced by S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Again you can see what impact the computer games have made.

Asfalt's approach to their chosen theme is relatively close, as the group members all have some kind of personal relation to Chernobyl and the disaster. They have visited the zone; even recorded music videos there, and  in 2010 they appeared in the French-German movie Chernobyl 4Ever.

If you want to find out more about the sounds of Asfalt, albums are downloadable for free here (but beware - many links are unfortunately broken).  

Now let's go to Sweden, the very country outside the Soviet Union where the accident at the CHNPP was first discovered. Have the acciendent inspired us in any other way than to 25 years after the disaster make faulty public service whinings about raindeer and mushrooms?

During my research for this article, I accidentially happened to stumble over the three piece Strömstad based Swedish black metal/industrial group Reaktor 4. Reaktor 4 is a now four years old project, which formed under "influence of volite liqides the winter of 2007". 

What's to be said; Reaktor 4 follow along the lines of the Scandinavian black metal traditions, only their theme this far, is concerning Chernobyl rather than Satan. In 2008 they recorded their full length album Reaktor 4, and one year later it was released through the label Total Holocaust Records, containing tracks with titles like Contamination (Kontamination), Reaktor 4, and Decay (Sönderfall). Unfortunately, there's not much information about this group, but if you're curious about what they sound like, you may go to their MySpace page.

There are also a number of Chernobyl themed compilations released, for example Remember Chernobyl 1986-2011, which is a dark ambient project by various artists. The album was released in April 2011, and all benefits went to the organisation  Chernobyl Children International

I am sure that there are many more groups and artist to be presented as influenced by Chernobyl, but I'm forced to realize and admit that it will take me some time to find out more - thus I ask for your help: Any tips are welcome!

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