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Video Artist: New Composers
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New Composers

The true pioneers and popularizers of electronic music in both Saint Petersburg and Russia as a whole, the members of the duo “New Composers” were among the first Russian musicians who deliberately rejected traditional instruments and methods of producing sound. Using elements of concrete music and artificial noise, fragments of various recordings — from classical music to rock — and all kinds of sound synthesizers, “New Composers” created musical collages and mysterious compositions, anticipating many contemporary music genres. 

Valery Alakhov and Igor Verichev met while still at school, and in the early 1980s they began organizing discos at the Professional Technical Education House of culture, taking part in the first spontaneous wave of the disco movement with its enlightening enthusiasm and complete artistic freedom. 

Later, in 1983, Igor Verichev began working at the Maly Drama Theater, where he provided music and noise for many productions, and soon Valery Alakhov joined him. In the rock club, which was located opposite of the street, they met the main figures of the Leningrad underground music scene — Sergey Kuryokhin and the bands “Kino” and “Akvarium”, and through them, the “New Artists” and Timur Novikov, who suggested that the duo call themselves “New Composers”. 

The “New Composers” describe their method as follows: “we listened to and recorded different programs from radios and televisions, and then made a selection from all of this material. We collected record players and tape recorders of all kinds from our friends, and took them to a place where there was a mixing desk. Then we turned everything on and mixed it on one tape recorder”. Essentially, this was manual sampling. 

The first album made with this method, “Cosmic Space”, was released at the end of 1983. Throughout the 1980s, “New Composers” recorded several more albums, in which they used different sources of sounds, from recorded to synthesized. “Pertention of Verbalization” (1985), “Arctics-Antarctics” (1986), “Wind of Change” (1987), “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1988), etc.

In 1986, “New Composers” took part in the recording of Sergey Kuryokhin’s album “Insect Culture”, and in 1987 registered the creative association “Science Fiction Club” at the Planetarium, where they held the first techno parties, laying the foundation for techno culture. The interiors of the Planetarium and the “unearthly” nature of the synthesized music inspired the “New Composers” to emphasize cosmic themes: this led to the Soviet space program becoming fashionable in Petersburg, and later in Moscow, that found its culmination in the famous “Gagarin Party” at the VDNKh exhibition venue.

“New Composers” worked with the “Kino” band towards the end of the 1980s. At the height of Perestroika, one of the first clips by “New Composers”, “Today and Right Now” (directed by Oleg Akhmetgaliev, 1989) was regularly shown on television.

In 1987, Alakhov and Verichev met Brian Eno, and in 1989 they were invited to the UK, where they recorded material for the album “Sputnik of Life” in 1990. Throughout the 1990s they toured the world, and

on one tour they met Peter “Namlook” Kuhlmann, one of the most memorable figures they worked with. Kuhlmann was the founder of the “Electronic Music Center” in Frankfurt-on-Main and the Fax label, on which their joint album “Planetarium” was released.

In the middle and second half of the 1990s, “New Composers” actively worked with Svetlana Petrova’s “Laboratory of Experimental Fashion”, and wrote music for a number of productions, including “Swan Lake 2” and “The Life and Death of Tchaikovsky”. By the end of the 1990s, as the “New Composers” say themselves they, had stopped working at parties, concentrating on serious creative work and releasing new albums which never failed to draw the interest of colleagues in Russia and the West.