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Belarus: ‘Hidden Truths’ report appendix – audio and video

12 February 2007

‘Hidden Truths’ songs

Listen to examples of banned and blacklisted music from Belarus. The bands and most of the songs are mentioned in Freemuse’s report on music censorship in Belarus.

For information about the artists, click on [info] or see below on this page.

  Click to read about the report
 
Click to listen1. De Shifer:  ‘Chas Priyshov’  Click to listen
[mp3 file]  [Info]  [Lyrics]


Click to listen2. Partyzanskaja Shkola:  ‘Nie!’  Click to listen
[mp3 file]  [Info]  [Lyrics]


Click to listen3. Kasia Kamotskaya:  ‘Maja Kraina’  Click to listen
[mp3 file]  [Info]  [Lyrics]


Click to listen4. Krama:  ‘Homielski Vals’  Click to listen
[mp3 file]  [Info]  [Lyrics]


Click to listen5. Chyrvonym pa Belamu:  ‘Nie Zadaju’  Click to listen
[mp3 file]  [Info]  [Lyrics]


Neuro Dubel - Click to listen6. Neuro Dubel:  ‘Belarus

Copyright: Freemuse has a written and signed agreement with copyright holders about the distribution of these seven pieces of music: on CD-album, mp3 on www.freemuse.org, as part of a radio programme (podcast) and with lyrics in print on www.freemuse.org


Click to listen Interview with ‘Bella’, 26-year-old Belarusian singer

 
 

Information about the music

By Lemez Lovas and Maya Medich


1. De Shifer: ‘Chas Priyshov’ (‘The Hour Has Come’)

Music style: Rock
Composer: Dmitro Bogush
Lyrics by: Yevgen Kolesnyk
Arranger: Dmitro Bogush
Album title: ‘Chas Priyshov’ (2004)
Published by: Orange Revolution
De Shifer are a Ukrainian group who originally released the song ‘The Hour Has Come’ as an election campaigning anthem for opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko in the 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Elections. The song’s original refrain, and title, was ‘Tak Yushchenko!’, which means ‘Yushchenko, Yes!’.

‘Tak!’ was also the campaign slogan of Viktor Yushchenko’s coalition group, ‘Nasha Ukraina’ (Our Ukraine). Following the events of the ‘Orange Revolution’ and Yushchenko’s eventual victory in late 2004 after a rerun of the vote, four of the groups whose songs were most closely identified with the euphoria of the political protests were given wild-card entries into the final national selection round for the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. To comply with Eurovision’s self-styled ‘apolitical’ stance, both the eventual winners Greenjolly and De Shifer altered the lyrics of their songs to remove any specific references to Viktor Yushchenko or any particular political party, so for this reason the song was rerecorded as ‘Chas Priyshov’ (‘The Hour Has Come’).

On the eve of 2006 presidential elections in Belarus De Shifer recorded a Belarusian language version of the song, clearly supporting opposition to Belarus’ dictatorial president Lukashenka. During mass protests that took place after the elections Ukrainian national flags and De Shifer’s songs symbolised Ukraine’s support of democratic changes in neighboring Belarus.

De Shifer’s official web site:


www.deshifer.com  (February 13: presently out of order)

De Shifer live – YouTube video:
‘Chas Priyshov (live at NF)’

 
 

2. Partyzanskaja Shkola: ‘Nie!’ (‘No!’)Music style: Hip Hop/Rap
Composer: Partyzanskaja Shkola
Lyrics by: Partyzanskaja Shkola
Arranger: Partyzanskaja Shkola
Album title: ‘Partyzanskaja Shkola’ (2006)
Published by: Partyzanskaja Shkola
An active part of the opposition cultural movement inside Belarus, played by teachers, students and alumni from the Jakob Kolas Lyceum, performing under the name Partyzanskaya Shkola (Partisan School).Partyzanskaya Shkola became especially popular among youth after 2006 presidential election, when their songs were played in a tent camp built in the centre of Belarus’ capital Minsk. The tent camp was violently destroyed by riot police several days later. All its participants were arrested and sentenced to various terms in jail.The Partyzanskaya Shkola album, released in February 2006 just before the presidential elections, was part of the well organised, professional campaign to change the state promoted image of Belarusian language and culture as inferior to Russian.

Max Rust, a seventeen year old former student of the Lyceum is the manager of this extraordinary music project. In Belarus, this open agitation in favour of the Belarusian language is extremely dangerous.

The morning of Freemuse’s interview with Max Rust, his parents’ apartment had been raided and two Belarusian friends from Poland staying with him arrested and jailed. The interview was interrupted several times by calls from the Polish consul trying to negotiate their release. Max himself only escaped arrest because he is legally still too young.

Partyzanskaya Shkola’s offical web site:


cd.licej.net

 
 

3. Kasia Kamotskaya: ‘Maja Kraina’ (‘My Country’)Music style: Folk
Composer: Kasia Kamotskaya
Lyrics by: Arimpadystau
Arranger: Novaje Nieba
Album title: ‘Maja Kraina’ (1997)
Published by: Kovcheg Ltd.
Kasia Kamotskaya and her group Novaje Nieba (New Skies) is one of the oldest and most renowned Belarusian folk-rock groups. They have criticized the authoritarian regime from the moment of its establishment, and for this they are banned from rotation on state tv and radio.Musical opposition to Lukashenko is by and large expressed in terms of patriotism and love for the nation rather than direct criticism per se. The style is what we might call ‘romantic nationalism’ – the central theme being the performers’ common identity as Belarusians, and the ideal of a Belarus after Lukashenko, in a country ‘under the white flag with a red sash’ as Kasia Kamotskaya sings in ‘Maya Kraina’. In short, classic romantic protest lyrics, where the call for ‘freedom’ is centre stage.

Kasia Kamotskaya live, at Polish-Belerusian ‘Solidarity with Belarus’ concert in Warsaw – YouTube video:


‘Przeżyj to sam’

 
 

4. Krama: ‘Homielski Vals’ (‘Gomel Waltz’) Music style: Folk/Rock
Composer: Ihar Varashkevich
Lyrics by: Zmitger Lukashuk
Arranger: Krama
Album title: ‘The Best’ (1998)
Published by: Kovcheg Ltd.
The five-member rock band Krama is based in Minsk and was formed in 1991. Composer of ‘Homelski Vals’ (‘The Gomel Waltz’: named after the region is South Eastern Belarus hardest hit by radiation fallout from the explosion of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster) Ihar Varashkevich from the rock band Krama explains about the song:

“We made a video clip of our song ‘Homelski Vals’ in 1996 for the ten year anniversary of Chernobyl: it was emotional, not even particularly about Chernobyl itself but about the fate of the Belarusian people, about Belarus one hundred, two hundred years ago. After the clip was shown a few times on ONT [state TV channel], the KGB found out about it and it was banned.”

‘Homelski Vals’ is one of the best known tracks a compilation entitled ‘Charnobylski Vetser’ (‘Chernobyl Wind’) published by a record company called Volia Music, which works together with the moderate nationalist Belarusian Popular Front. Voila Music has been behind several important recent political music compilations, the most recent being ‘Charnobylski Vetser’ which was dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The event continues to have sizeable political significance throughout the European countries of the former USSR, and musicians have been using the Chernobyl metaphor for years.

Despite the fact that the blast occurred across the border in the Ukraine, thanks to the direction of the prevailing winds Belarus suffered the vast majority of the radiation fallout. Chernobyl exploded the myth that glasnost would mean openness and honesty for the ordinary Soviet citizen – Moscow fiddled while Belarus burned, and the Kremlin’s criminal mismanagement of the disaster’s aftermath stoked the fires of independence that led directly to the collapse of the Soviet Union some five years later.

As a symbol of corrupt power and official neglect for society as a whole, it is as potent as ever, and the annual Charnobylski Shlyakh (Chernobyl Path) demonstration that takes place in towns and villages across the country has long been an outlet for political dissent. Coming just three weeks after the violent police dispersal of the opposition-backed election protests, the marches of 2006 were even more tense than usual, with several high profile arrests. “Our blues is politicised. But our lyrics are not concrete – let’s do this or that. They’re more artistic,” comments Ihar Varashkevich.

Krama’s official website:
www.krama.by

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

wikipedia.org/wiki/Krama_band

 
 

5. Chyrvonym pa Belamu: ‘Nie Zadaju’ (‘I Don’t Want’)Music style: Rock/Rap
Composer: von Paul NZA, Kilian Lyrics by: Tartak
Arranger/mix: Miody Grzech
Album title: ‘Čyrvonym pa Bielamu’ (2006)
Published by: Voila Music
Some say that the Belarusian nation is a little too slow and tolerant, thus lacking a little radicalism. That’s exactly what Chyrvonym pa Belamu – also known as CPB – delivers: radicalism and youth maximalism. During spontaneous youth protest after the 2006 elections, when authoritarian president Lukashenka claimed victory for the third term after 12 years in power, CPB’s songs have truly become anthems of the revolting youth, sounding from loudspeakers in the middle of the tent camp in Belarus’ capital Minsk.Krou is the rapper behind Chyrvonym pa Belamu (The Red and the White), considered one of the main figures in the local hip-hop scene and one of the first to perform entirely in Belarusian. He says he formed the band CPB as a reaction to the huge state repression of the independent media:
“I rap for people who maybe don’t have proper access to information, or to independent newspapers, which these days you can only find on the internet. Not everybody has access to this.”

Founded as a political project, the lyrics of most CPB songs are intelligent and intentionally provocative, full of emotional rhetoric about resistance and foreign domination. It is interesting to note that for all the emphasis given to rock in press articles about the opposition and the problems they face, it was hip-hop that provided the real ‘anthem of the revolution’.

At the more radical end of the protest music scene, Krou’s imagery is patriotic and vehemently pro-Belarusian but more controversial than most, often seeming to veer close to the virulent nationalism that infects much Russian contemporary punk rock.

“If rock is about what’s in between the lines, rap is much more direct,” says Krou.

More direct, perhaps, but also much more dangerous. His lyrics against Lukashenko go much further than those of rock groups who play with double meanings – but they also choose to cultivate a visible public profile, whereas Krou, wisely, chooses to perform in strict anonymity.

“In terms of this law in the criminal code threatening a five-year jail term for insulting the president, about 60 percent of my songs fall into this category – about 30 tracks in all. If they would catch me I would go straight to jail, no question. That’s why I perform in a mask, I don’t appear on adverts and posters, I don’t show my face in newspapers or allow myself to be photographed.”

Chyrvonym pa Belamu’s official web site:


www.krou-cpb.com

 
 

6. Neuro Dubel: ‘Belarus Über Alles’ (‘Belarus Above All’) Music style: Heavy Metal/Rock
Composer: Kullinkovich
Lyrics by: Kullinkovich
Arranger: Neuro Dubel
Album title: ‘Tanki’ (2004)
Published by: Master Records
Catalogue no: MURU1094
Neuro Dubel started singing in Belarusian in 2004, and their album ‘Tanki’ won a prize at a rock festival. They were invited to sing in Russia like some other Belarusian groups, but they decided to stay in Belarus and they started singing in Belarusian and show their Belarusian character.

“We have a song called ‘Belarus Uber Alles’, that I wrote as a kind of Dead Kennedys cover. It’s a jokey song, but the authorities consider songs like this to be very harmful, oppositional,” explains Alexander Kulinkovich from Neuro Dubel.

Although Neuro Dubel (which means “neuro hammer”) is one of the biggest punk-rock groups in Belarus, they are one of the ten groups officially banned from rotation on state tv and radio. The ban was effected after they played a concert at an opposition mass rally, forcing them to become political.

They are not allowed to hold concerts in state halls, so they have to secretely organise them in small private clubs and flats. If authorities find out Neuro Dubel had a concert in a club, this club usually has “visitors” from KGB, tax inspection, fire inspection, fiscal police, etc.

Although their lyrics are almost never directly linked to politics, even smallest deviation from the officially announced ideology are considered an offence in totalitarian Belarus. The mere fact that they sing in Belarusian language is enough for the authorities to dub them subversive nationalists, leave alone the protest lyrics that naturally come with punk rock.

Neuro Dubel’s official web site:
www.neurodubel.com

 
 
http://nrsm.org/images/2006-07-23/02.jpg
7. NRMNRM stands for “Independent Dream Republic,” in Belarusian.

NRM is one of the oldest Belarusian rock groups, enjoying huge popularity among young listeners with their Nirvana-like drive with a local touch. Originally absolutely apolitical, they started to get involved in politics after Lukashenka introduced a ban on their concerts and rotation on the radio for playing at an opposition rally. They use the Belarusian language exclusively.

According to Internet polls, NRM is one of the most popular groups in Belarus. Gathering large audiences in neighboring Lithuania and Poland, they have to hold underground concerts in small clubs and private flats in their home country Belarus

NRM’s official web site:
nrm.by.com

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

wikipedia.org/wiki/N.R.M.

 
 

Articles about music in Belarus

Radio Free Europe – 17 March 2006:
‘Belarus: Rocking The Political Boat’

Belarusguide.com:

‘Music of Belarus’

The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus – list of links:

‘Belarus: Music, Singers and Performers’

 
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