“Gilyaks #2” is track on the Zirque Bois d’Arc album, Songs About Russia. Several years ago I spent a few weeks noticing videos from Russia and thinking, almost every time, how different it must be.
Growing up, Russia was always very much “other,” I learned about atomic bombs and missiles pointed at me at an early age – we had drills at elementary school. Over time this knowledge turned into a full-blown neurosis – I literally could not sleep at night with worry that tomorrow wouldn’t come. Reagan, you see, and those guys were good at whipping up the fear, and there was common talk about the Doomsday Clock moving closer to midnight, and, well, it got me pretty worried in unspeakable ways. (btw that asshat racist has us even closer now). One of the weird and awesome things that came from that excess of worry was that I started sleeping with the radio on, and every night at 2:00 AM the local station 99.1 would sign off the air with the Jimi Hendrix version of the “Star Spangled Banner,” and that performance became fused on some fundamental level – years before I even wanted to pick up a guitar.
Anyways, over time the Soviet Union crumbled, and fear of utter annihilation by the whim of narcissistic power-hungry morons faded into decades of progress. Hell – as recently as October 2016 it looked like we were going to have a future filled with more tricorders and fewer phasers.
Anyways, I would see these videos of Russia – dash cam videos of bad traffic behavior or meteors; men wrestling bears; sublime artistic and musical performances – and became very curious about what it must feel like, to be Russian.
So I spent several months asking people at bars and coffee shops if they knew anything about Russia. They would tell me something, I would take notes, and then I wrote an album.
Here is my first video from that record.
The Gilyaks were an indigenous people off the eastern coast of Siberia. They figure historically in Murakami’s novel 1Q84 and apparently, Chekov spent some time among them in the late 1800s. A common point of derision against them was that when the Russians came in and built perfectly good roads, the Gilyaks continued to walk through the woods to get around.
It used to last forever
Getting to there from here
Crinkle the leaves
Cracking the bushes
Insects they holler in the breeze
Songs About Russia on CD Baby.