ZGA (Russia)


ZGA’s abstract instrumental music could be seen as an aural description of everyday Soviet or post-Soviet life. The sound is dominated by cold metal, and its logic seems mostly absurd, at least initially. Founded in 1984, ZGA is Russia’s oldest experimental music group. The only remaining original member Nick Sudnick (pictured) started to build the instruments he calls zgamoniums 15 years ago. They can be coil springs from cars and machines which are beaten with small metal hammers, plates of steel which are stroked with medieval-looking miniature whips, strings stretched into large metal frames, or a number of other things. Last year’s Avanto witnessed laptops night after night but this year the most popular instrument may well be the turntable. Like Otomo Yoshihide, Janek Schaefer and Es, Sudnick too utilizes record players in turntablist style.

ZGA's new CD, Flight of Infection, is due out soon in the USA. It was preceded by three CD’s on British musician Chris Cutler’s celebrated Recommended Records, the label whose small re-presses of German krautrock classics have kept, for example, Faust albums in the shops long after the 70's kraut boom subsidised. ZGA’s musical links with the experimental jazz-rock/prog/kraut scene around Cutler remain intact. The group’s drummer Ekaterina Fiodorova will come to Helsinki straight from Britain where she’s been touring with Faust - now global stars of experimental rock.

The historical roots of ZGA’s music go back a lot further than the 70's. In the beginning, as citizens of the isolated Soviet Union, they hadn't really heard any of their industrial music-making western contemporaries, in spite of sounding like them. The origins of industrial and noise music are usually traced back to the early 20th century Italian futurists and the noise instruments and “art of noise” theory they developed. However, another significant cradle of industrial art was the Soviet Union where the idealization of heavy industry and factory work was taken to almost religious dimensions. Noise music was produced there in the 1920's, and although there’s nothing left of it apart from eye-witness reports, the tradition has lived on. In ZGA’s case, the industrial aesthetic isn’t quite as crucial as with some other present-day Russian noise artists, but it forms a natural part of their music. No wonder these days, when on the one hand, the Soviet spiritual heritage is under revaluation, and on the other it is claimed that the concrete rebirth of the Soviet Union has already begun. AN

Saturday 10.11.2001 - Gloria
21:00-3:00 - Avanto Club - ZGA live