Официальный сайт группы Open Space (Минск, Беларусь): последние новости, афиша, блог группы.
23 января 2009

Far From Moscow «Open Space: «Beautiful»

Ссылка на оригинал: http://www.moscow.ucla.edu/?p=3364

Late last year, Open Space (from Minsk) released their second EP, “Beautiful,” which can still be downloaded for free from several locations. We suggest that you do so; this is a charming ensemble whom we can easily imagine enjoying more attention from central media, not only in Belarus, but across Russia, too.

Maybe their theoretical renown could even stretch in the opposite direction, towards the UK, since Open Space’s radio-friendly, jingle-jangle aesthetic sometimes reveals the clear influence of Travis. They can expect a warm reception in Edinburgh; at the very least some lager and a packet of crisps.

The band was formed in 2006 through a chance aquaintance on an online forum: vocalist Vitalik Matievskii (top image, right) was, logically, looking for a chance to sing, and Seva Maslov (second from right) was hoping to make public use of his bass guitar. Within a month they also had a guitarist – and an official birthday. A debut gig would follow soon afterwards, in the romantic surroundings of Soligorsk.

Huge concrete spaces and pigeon-covered busts of Lenin; a big challenge for the Belarus Tourist Board.

Avoiding the outside world’s grim architecture in basements and studios, the band needed until September 2007 to produce a debut EP by the title of “Wake Up”; it can still – thankfully – be downloaded from a few places, such as here, together with the newer recording, “Beautiful.” Even today, there is palpable pride among the musicians that tickets to the EP’s launch party were sold out in two days.

What we don’t know, however, was the size of the venue. If, for example, it was the drummer’s bedroom, the speed of ticket sales would be slightly less impressive. In that same doubting spirit, we wonder whether the picture below was taken not on stage, but by holding a lightbulb to a duvet cover.

A manager soon appeared on the horizon, which led to an escape from the land of pillows and the chance to open for visiting bands from St Petersburg; the kind of artists, in fact, who could fill local football stadiums. This leap of faith from bedroom to concrete terraces was made with great success, since before the summer was over, Open Space had completed a small tour of Ukraine.

Taking themselves further afield meant that the likelihood of PR work would also increase, and indeed they were asked on several occasions by various newspapers to explain their name. Rather than some obscure cinematic or musical reference, as is so often the case, they would answer quite simply that it expresses “an expanse for creative freedom.”

Thus ended many an interview, no doubt: “Does your name have a special significance?” “Um… no.”

Having now opened for better-known bands such as Segodnia noch’iu (Tonight) and Bi2, the ensemble has defined not only its name, but its very raison d’etre.

“Each of our gigs is a special event. It’s really important that we swap energy with the audience, even if there aren’t that many people in the hall. The most important thing is honesty in our music; honesty and personal experience, rather than any kind of complicated format.”

It’s that simplicity that leads to our parallels with Travis, perhaps even with Belle and Sebastian. The gentle, often fey aspect of much Scottish pop is a reaction not only to the coal-pit swagger of northern bands, but also to the smug condescenion of Londoners. It simply refuses to play loud games of one-upmanship and retreats into a small, introspective realm… which is odd for a nation that still battles the national sterotypes of closely-shaven, knife-wielding thugs.

The melodies and artwork of Open Space adopt a similar tactic of “minorization,” perhaps because they’re surrounded by the leaden traditions of “classic” East European rock. Then again, a healthy alternative to any striving for Moscow (for its brash scale) would be to deliberately enact the opposite. As a result, Open Space are a breath of fresh air in a musical tradition where smiles are few and far between.

It looks like that green duvet also made it into the outside world.


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