Sweet Dreams and Parallel Realities

In early March, the Petersburg group Ole Lukkoye recorded a track for the psychedelic compilation album Eno Tribute, which will be released in the United States. The album is dedicated to the music of Brian Eno and will contain cover versions of his works by musicians from around the world. Ole Lukkoye was the only Russian group invited to contribute to this prestigious project.

When keyboardist Boris Bardash and bass guitarist Andrei Lavrinenko left the progressive/art-rock outfit The Rainy Season in the spring of 1989, no one could have even guessed that their new project would lead to this. The hard road they set out on has brought them neither money nor nationwide fame and a track on the popular Soyuz compilation albums. The recognition of their work by genuine music connoisseurs in different countries is worth more than any pompous award, however.

Boris and Andrei dubbed themselves Ole Lukkoye, and in that very same year of 1989 they took to the stage for the first time with appearances at the Leningrad Rock Club's seventh festival and the Rock Aurora festival. It was' a time for experimenting: the band's lineup changed often, each new musician adding something original to the group's sound. Even back then an eastern bias was making itself audible, becoming stronger in 1991 with the arrival of bassoonist Alexander Frolov.

Ole Lukkoye's first LP was the 1993 release Zapara. By that time the quest for their own sound had led the musicians to psychedelic ethnotrance. Although, as is often the case with bold experimental music, critics are at something of a loss when it comes to classifying Ole Lukkoye's work. In contrast to “psychedelic ethnotrance,” a term chosen by the Belgian psychedelic journal Crohinga Well one German critic described Ole Lukkoye as “folklore from nowhere.” It has to be said that this is a fairly accurate description of the feelings their music provokes in the listener. Unobtrusive eastern harmonies are concealed, as it were, in a music that is trance-like to the point of shamanism. The musicians stress that they take a highly creative approach to folk roots and try to find contemporary twists on this foundation. As a result, it seems to the listener that a number of ethnic sources have been used, an impression strengthened by the “imaginary” language in which many of the songs are performed. According to Boris Bardash, the phonetics of this invented language is ideally suited to the group's style, as English is to rock and roll, for example. “Ole Lukkoye is about sweet dreams and parallel realities,” he says, adding that these kinds of experiences cannot be described with ordinary words.

Visual accompaniment became a part of Ole Lukkoye concerts in 1996, first in the form of projected video, with computer animation added later. And so music that was already vivid and original acquired new shadings, and the band's concerts began to resemble rituals. Thanks to the TaMtAm Club and Seva Gakkel, the musicians met a German producer who organized a concert tour of Germany and later assisted them with the release of their album Tumze (Lollipop Shop, 1996). The TaMtAm was also where they met Norwegian woman Marit Sande, who arranged a Scandinavian tour. Last year the group contributed to the psychedelic compilation album “Floralia II,” which gathered the best psychedelic tracks from all corners of the globe.

An ordinary Ole Lukkoye song lasts 8-10 minutes. Maybe that's why their works aren't played on the air so often and the rank-and-file radio listener isn't familiar with their music. This, however, hasn't kept Ole Lukkoye from evolving to the delight of their fans.

Oleg YURCHENKO, “Na Dne”, #5(38), 1998