Motorama are a Russian band and their 2012 album “Calendar” is a smooth, honed work that follows in the footsteps of Interpol, Editors in updating post punk for the 21st century. Russian they may be but they could easily hail from Factory Records in the early 80s.
In many ways this acts as counterpoint to Nnon by The Woken Trees, also reviewed on this site. Both are operating in the post punk tradition. Both draw up images of nature. But they sound very different, The Woken Trees offer harsh, jagged, aggressive textures, influenced by Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, Public Image. The Woken Trees inhabit a Grimm like world of nightmarish spectres. Their very name, The Woken Trees sounds like the title of a horrific fairy tale.
“Calendar” on the other hand is gorgeously dream like. Motorama offer a fluid, unreal, ambience. They echo the same imagery of nature that you find on many an 80s album cover. I feel tempted to suggest that it all feels like a Midsummer Night’s Dream, (if I could be bothered to read the damn thing). They follow in the footsteps of The Cure, The Durutti Column, early New Order.
So whilst profoundly different, both come from the same ancestral home. If you enjoy the nightmare world of Nnon you should enjoy the dream world of “Calendar”.
In lieu of calling the album “samey” I shall say that the album paints a complete picture where songs bleed into one another. This is very reminiscent of Heaven Up Here by Echo & The Bunnymen. “Calender” provides 37 minutes of lush, jangly music that washes over you. Every song is enjoyable but by the end, their similarity makes it difficult to provide standouts. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we’re all grownups, right? Let’s take a step back and enjoy the bigger picture offered.
There is a certain contradiction at work in the music. The vocals of singer Vladislav Parshin are wan and despondent, layered with echoes and hard to pin down. The rhythm section works against this however, being urgent and propulsive. Drummer Roman Belenkiy provides a relentlessly chipper disco beat while bassist Irene Parshina is arguably the star of the show, her playing is so glassy and fluid and so potent you can practically touch it.
The songs are generally catchy and could happily grace an indie disco full of kids with dopey haircuts. So they’re happy. And post punk fans can enjoy the work of a band that has taken a sound specific to the early 1980s but make it sound vital and alive. So everyone’s happy. Not very post punk…
Search it: Motorama, ‘To The South’