A centuries-old center of heavy industry and shipbuilding, Mykolaiv is cradled by the freshwater folds of the Southern Bug. The Ukrainian city is a harsh topography; witnessing decline since the fall of the Soviet military-industry it once powered, it is now poverty-stricken and polluted. Association is characterized by danger, the threat of bodily harm, or violation. Its name is synonymous with the criminal. It is, yet, a haven for lighthouses.
Somewhere in nearby Russia-Ukraine, there’s a nightclub designed with the look and the feel of an old, Stalin-era Soviet gulag. It is at once grotesque and awe-inspiring: derived from a collective impulse to memory and a nihilistic gain, it’s framed by a very human aspect, by a Darwinian drive. And so exists Antifur, a Mykolaiv-centered label and self-styled band apart, set aside for the micro-republics of “the hardest vapour, no pussies allowed.” Painted black, it is ante-anti-Euromaidan. It is among the latest agents involved in a cultural and musical process that extends, at least, back to 2011.
This particular release, PIPPO, is an exponent to-the-first-power of the prolific release-machine. Although produced “from good friend of mine from Italy,” PIPPO is representative of Antifur’s ethic and aesthetic: one steeped in trauma and devoted to all things “hard.” This is a factor endemic to the species, though obviously not with exclusion: “Good psytrance shit, u all will listen. Good for doing mescaline while in car at night, good vibes yes.” Like most things on the internet, it is unclear where the performance ends and the sincerity is intended to begin — if it is to begin at all.
Sonically, though, PIPPO does go hard. And it does it well. Strings of acidic melody, chemicals 909, seep in and out of harmony, coagulating and dissolving within double-fisted aggro-synth solution. There is a dedication to form and function throughout: harmonies are consistent vamps, and there are, perhaps thankfully, no vocals — vox persona is unnecessary when the goal is a resolute firmness. There is also a plaintive quality here. Pads wane, whining as if with a teleological recognition. The desire is for a temporary escape from an immediate yet undefined harm. For all the “hard,” there is an ever-present fear.
But the escape is not necessarily the focus — not so much as is the chase. Maybe it’s the artwork painting an identification, but PIPPO feels like street-racing music: the album is roughly the length of the average swift car ride, one, imaginably, through a series of city alleyways or along a barren industrial coastline. PIPPO connotes the streets. Maybe not yours or even “ours,” but they are streets nonetheless and their ends unknown.