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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Pete Rocker Makes Classics New




Viktor Sologub, bassist for the seminal 1980s St. Petersburg band Stranniye Igry, has put aside his stage shows for awhile to make dance remixes of classics from the St. Petersburg rock scene.


Having just finished a number of remixes of the all-female art-pop band Kolibri, he is now busy respinning some of the classics of Russia's most influential rock band, Akvarium.


Sologub started to experiment with computer-generated music as soon as he bought his first computer in 1989, but his current projects stem from the "drum-and-bass" duo Dedushki, which he co-founded with Stranniye Igry's saxophone player Alexei Rakhov in 1996.


Dedushki's debut album -- recorded in St. Petersburg and mixed in London with British producer Greg Brimson last year -- hasn't been released yet. Tracks from the album are nevertheless already making their way onto dance music compilations.


It was the contemporary and trendy sound on Dedushki's demo tape that attracted Sologub's local colleagues who started inviting him to remix their old songs.


Although both the musicians are in their early 40s, Sologub argues you don't have to be young to work with contemporary sounds. "Just look at Cold Cut or Amphex Twin -- what's their age? They are definitely not young," he said. "These are the two names that I like the most."


To do their remixes, Sologub and Radkhov use an Atari 1040 STE computer running Cubase software as a sequencer, as well as a variety of synthesizers. Then they add live guitar and bass tracks.


With Kolibri and Akvarium, Sologub and Rakhov took radically different approaches.


"For Kolibri we mostly took their voice tracks, and changed all the instruments, which we played ourselves," Sologub said. "Sometimes we even changed the beat. For instance, sometimes we simplified it, changing from, say, seven-eighths to five-fourths, and sometimes we made it more complicated, changing six-eighths to four-fourths."


For the Akvarium remixes, Sologub and Rakhov started with one of Sologub's favorite songs, "The Beautiful Amateur," an early 1980s rock anthem, which existed only on some nonprofessional studio and live concert recordings. Boris Grebenshchikov, the band's former lead singer, even laid down new vocal tracks for the remix.


"We tried to preserve the melodic lines, [originally] played by [then-Akvarium cellist] Seva Gakkel," Sologub said. "Then we took a small sample from an old nonprofessional tape -- it was noisy and scratchy, but we distorted it further, then added some real heavy drums and a jazzy vibraphone break. It's become a rather amusing mix of old and new ... as if you were sitting in front of the television and switching channels." Grebenshchikov was satisfied with the remixed songs, calling them "brilliant."


"They are not simply remixes, but total remakes," he said. "I am not pious about songs that have already been made. They exist, and everybody can listen to them. Our function ends there. If somebody wants to do something to them, that's OK."