Founded in 2006 by the multifaceted artist Irina Doubrovskaja, ErsatzMusika is made up of six Berlin-based, formerly Russian musicians who immigrated to Germany after the fall of the wall. Bringing with them their Russian diaspora from behind the iron stage, where Gypsies sing of woolen boots and worshippers of Mammon decry broken hearts and glasses raised to lost love. The groups compositions blend their traditional Eastern European music background with influences from the west including dub, urban, and folk, creating a familiar yet exotic musical landscape engaging listeners from all backgrounds.
Their sound is unique - a rootsy Russian urban folk without insulation and throwing off sparks. Lurking in their condensed, gritty bass and guitar riffs is a pure, unrefined and unruly spirit that's redolent of 1980s Fall, 1970s Jamaican dub, 1930s Berlin cabaret, and Soviet ska-like beats chopped out in the style of the dissident singers of the Soviet era - whose "criminal songs" - vicious vignettes of Soviet realities - were secretly circulated in their millions on cassette.
Theirs is not a nostalgia for an old world, however, but a reclamation of its fierce creative underground. The 13 strange and singular tracks on their second album, Songs Unrecantable, is like a hall of mirrors reflecting the psychic landscapes of old Russia back onto the crazy realities of 21st century Mittel-Europa and turning them loose into some of the strangest songs on the planet.
From the opening old-world elegance of Song on a Gypsy Air with its exquisitely dry piano melody, through the dread, subterranean beat of Tver, the Neolithic rock n roll of Oy Pterodactyl or the image-drenched tone poetry of Antediluvian, Songs Unrecantable draws you inexorably into a conspiracy of organs, raw guitars, clipped, arcane riffs, jerky dances, haunting vocals, and a vast image bank drawn from past and present, east and west.