I admitted don’t get a ton of emails about Life in the Vinyl Lane, though when I do I’m often surprised by who they’re from. Sometimes it’s from a member of a long since disbanded band who found a post I did on their one and only album. Other times I get notes from bands about their new releases, and these mostly come from the US and Iceland. But the other day I got one from Sasha, member of the Russian female punk band Mirrored Lips, and even a quick 30 second preview of one of their tracks told me that this was going to be something interesting and special.
были у меня длинные волосы, но разве они принесли мне счастье appears to translate roughly into something about long hair and happiness, and based on a photo of the band with their short hair I’m guessing there’s some kind of irony at play here. I found a couple of interviews with Mirrored Lips online, including one from Maximumrocknroll in which they describe their sound: “One girl took a car and crashed the drums, the other plugged in her guitar and fell off a cliff into the sea, the third one came afterwards and deeply sighed.” Originally a free/avant jazz project they morphed into something more punk rock, if not always musically then definitely in terms of their overall attitude and aesthetic – in some ways their sound is reminiscent of the more experimental work that broke out of the European punk scene starting in the late 1970s.
The jazz influence is immediately evident from the start of the first song, “как наступит весна”, a sonic trip up river to find Colonel Kurtz and the banality of horror that unfolds as the river flows slowly past and the desolate carnage floats by. There’s a mildly discordant flow to the music which follows its own course, refusing to be constrained by any sense of structure. That’s followed by “S&V” as things move into a more traditional punk zone with a vocal cadence that reminds me of Purrkur Pillnikk. The “S” and “V” stand for “sex” and “violence”, the two English words in the song which are repeated as a chorus, sharp stabs out from the low end of the music, hitting you like punctuations with their deliberateness. It feels politicized in every way possible, and that’s not a bad thing.
The Mirrored Lips aren’t afraid to push experimental towards its outer limits. “из меня раздался голос” is a seemingly random collection of softly played instruments, electronic buzzing, and various overlapping recordings of people talking. Certainly my lack of Russian language skills limits my ability to understand the specifics (the title translates to “A Voice Came From Me”), though in a way it also makes it more sonically interesting as a composition. Is “free-punk” a genre we need to start talking about? It very well might be, because “experimental” seems too generic.
With seven tracks and a run time of about 22 minutes, были у меня длинные волосы, но разве они принесли мне счастье is the perfect dose of Mirrored Lips, enough to get into their overall feel while not burning out your ears. “S&V” is my favorite cut, but it’s also the most traditionally punk song on the album which probably explains my attraction to it. But don’t take my word for it – go listen to it for yourself HERE, and maybe spend a buck on a digital download if it strikes your fancy.