Shivery Synth From a Cool Place
Where They’re From: Moscow, Russia
Genre: Electropop with post-rock leanings, or vice versa. It depends on the song. Post-electro rock?
When They Started: 2009
Sounds Like: Looped samples of melting snow filtering down through rocky terrain
The members of Sistra grew up in Khabarovsk, Russia, closer to China than to Moscow, where they live now. This is only worth mentioning because knowing that the electrorock quartet hails from a city surrounded by primeval pine forests makes their exquisite music even better.
Their debut album Telegram Cloud seethes with chilly sonics and a restless spirituality that puts them in kinship Pictureplane and Zola Jesus. If their music isn’t exactly sunny, it’s isn’t dark either. It’s easy to listen and imagine starry nights in the wilderness with the wind blowing through ancient trees.
Their alt-rock melodies have the melancholy sweetness of vocalist Michail Gnesin’s Jonsí-like upper register is smooth and cool as milk straight from the fridge. It spills all over the post-punk jangle of lead track of “Ghost Note.” Tracks like that will quench ears thirsting for novelty and challenge.
Daring and complex as it is though, Sistra’s music is crafted with such smooth edges and seamless surfaces that it’s easy to imagine the gently percolating single “Revolving in You” sneaking onto an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in the near future.
And then there are the quirky moments that draw you in deeper. At the end of “Tiny Boat,” a female vocalist breaks in quoting The Specials: “This town’s coming like a ghost town.” For someone who knows their ’80s hits hearing that emerge from the ethereal swirl feels like being one of those SETI researchers finally coming across a radio signal that absolutely confirms intelligent life exists outside our solar system. It’s a jolt. Actually, Sistra is kind of like that in a more general sense: Something new and strange. Something to tell people about right away.