By Christoper Sebastian – Anglo American University
Don’t be fooled by the name. Despite being called 10,000 Russians, this band has zero Russians, and there are only three in the group. Dubious advertising notwithstanding, 10,000 Russos is an innovative psychedelic rock band, and this Portuguese trio will play in Prague on Tuesday, November 19th.
The group is led by João Pimenta, with his machine-like percussion and a cyborg-like vocal drawl. On guitars, Pedro Pestana’s penetrating experimental loops are equal parts orchestral and industrial, which sounds like it shouldn’t work, but somehow does. And the sound is rounded out by driving, motor-like basslines drawn forth from the most depraved corners of the bassist’s André Couto’s mind.
Calling themselves a “psyche” band, they are influenced by classic rock groups of the 60s, including Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and the Doors. But their neo-psychedelia has a more intense electrification, disjointed arrangements, and extreme reverb beyond the 60s and 70s sounds.
They draw from this rich tradition of psychedelic rock, but they are also influenced by post-punk The Cure, Joy Division, and early Sonic Youth. João’s vocals are reminiscent of the English punk group, The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, who bleakly narrated the end-of-times over his harsh guitar maneuvering. Dead Skeletons, the Butthole Surfers, and Wooden Shjips are other inspirations for this group.
Their self-titled debut album was written and recorded entirely in an abandoned 1980s shopping mall, in Portugal, which might explain why it feels distinctly like a throwback to a classically post-punk time period that can delight the ears of both millennials and Gen X-ers.
It is, however, their most recent recording Kompromat (2019), which truly refines their distinctive sound with its politically charged title, taking its name from the Soviet-era Russian term for “compromising material” that was gathered on politicians and businesses.
So appropriately, 10,000 Russos will be playing tonight at Kasárna Karlín (translated as the Karlín Barracks) which enjoys a rich cultural history that spans more than a century. Renovated from a set of buildings originally constructed to house the Austro-Hungarian army in the 1840s, it was known as the Hindenburg Barracks during World War II when it was occupied by the Nazi Wehrmakt. And during the 1968 Russian Invasion, independent Czechoslovak Radio aired anti-occupation broadcasts from there.
Juxtaposing the abandoned Baroque building block against a new outdoor cinema and stage, indoor galleries, bars and café, club, pop-up markets, and bold metal sculptures, Kasárna Karlín makes a bold visual statement. This should be the ideal backdrop for a night of bouncing to the industrial sounds of 10,000 Russos.
Tickets are available here.