Portuguese Experimental trio 10 000 Russos are gearing up for the release of their fifth album ‘Superinertia’ which is due for release September 10, 2021 on Fuzz Club Records. Following on from 2019’s “Kompromat” LP and tour-dates around the UK, Europe and Mexico in support, the Porto-based band describe “Superinertia” as a record addressing the “state of inertia that humans live in the West nowadays. It isn’t a record about the past or future. It’s about now.” This inertia, they say, is one deeply-rooted in the Western condition – in which ‘common sense’ masquerades political impotence, culture is largely dominated by pastiche and nostalgia and life itself is reduced to an endless cycle of work-consume-repeat.
For all that “Superinertia” might take aim at a world without motion, however, the same cannot be said of 10 000 Russos themselves. Not least because of the new sounds explored on this album, aided especially by the recent addition of synth player Nils Meisel to the line-up (who replaces former bassist André Coute.)
“The synths really opened up the sound of the band and gave more routes for the music to journey down”, drummer and vocalist João Pimenta explains: “The most important thing on this album was to not repeat ourselves, and to do so without sounding like a Zappa tribute band. I really think the old Russos are now buried and a new arc in our sound is coming to life.”
Fundamentally, though, 10 000 Russos’ music has always been about as kinetic as it gets: a perpetually driving sonic force. At times on “Superinertia” – beneath Pedro Pestana’s manipulated guitar squalls, new experiments with synths and tongue-in-cheek vocals that make you think Pimenta might just be Portugal’s answer to Mark E. Smith – you can still find hints of those same motorik rhythms that charged blissfully into the infinite on their earlier works. See ‘Saw The Damp’, for example: “This is the most classic Russos song on the LP. The use of a bullet mic on the tom gives it this hypnotic West African polyrhythm, whilst pairing it with a Neu-esque guitar riff.” However, the opening-track ‘Station Europa’ – driven as it is by an enveloping synth bassline whilst electronics oscillate and whirr in the background – makes clear from the off that the 10 000 Russos sound is henceforth evolving.
Whilst the sound might be transforming, one unwavering constant is in the band’s founding mission to make “submersive music with subversive lyrics”. Evidence of their not wanting to shy away from uncomfortable truths, ‘Station Europa’ certainly fulfills on both fronts – with Pestana describing it as “a twisted anthem for the end of Europe, in which the once-sacred French words Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité are contradicted by a heritage of bureaucracy that gets in the way of a fellow member’s call for help.” ‘No more French words!’, Pimenta sarcastically quips, amongst such other lyrical highlights as: ‘The remains of the Romans / Toga ghosts discussing ethics, beauty and how to cook a Flamingo’; ‘Hi Brussels, this is Greece, you have a problem, we need help / Arrange a meeting / You need a suit / You need a briefcase / You need shiny shoes’.
Other moments where the new line-up and expansive new sound flourish include the eponymous title-track ‘Super Inertia’ which, musically, Pimenta describes frankly as “funky as f*ck with a 90s Summer of Love dance anthem ending.” It’s an injection of euphoric hedonism into a song (and album) that’s title acts as “a response or reaction to the forced halt we (the proverbial we: Man) have been subjected to lately and what we have been missing”, as Pestana puts it. Then there is the slow-burning ‘A House Full Of Garbage’ which – replete with sparse drum-machine and languid, jangling guitars – is the closest thing 10 000 Russos have ever done to a pop song. With lyrics like ‘It’s just you and your hope / It’s just you and your tiny home / Three cups, five forks and one knife, four thousand boxes / I can’t work in this house full of garbage’, it might just be the definitive psychedelic lockdown hit for the precarious houseplants-and-debt generation.
Closing the album is the cinematic epic ‘Mexicali/Calexico’, inspired by their stop at Mexicali on their 2019 Mexican tour. Pestana says of the song: “It’s a diptych about crossing from Mexico to the US. Mexicali (MX) and Calexico (US) would just be one city if there weren’t bars in between. It’s to do with being disillusioned with a dream – like you’re already in a sore state, leaving to a sort of promised land and after crossing everything still turns into crazy cowboy shit.” Like the neighbouring cities of its title, the song is divided into two separate but ultimately inseparable parts: Mexicali (sung in English) and Calexico (sung in Spanish). Mirroring the protagonist’s wandering journey across the border, the music itself only gets wilder and wilder. Beginning with atmospheric, desert-invoking guitars that bring to mind Ry Cooder’s ‘Paris, Texas’ soundtrack, the track soon enough builds into an unhinged, feedback-blasted Stooges beat interspersed with frantic banjo playing.
1. Station Europa
2. Saw The Damp
3. Super Inertia
4. A House Full of Garbage
Pre-Orders are open through Bandcamp where you can also listen the first two singles taken from the album: