Belarusian rock band Molchat Doma are unlikely Covid stars

by James Hendicott

Feeling a little dingy? As we head into what, unfortunately, looks likely to be a real winter of discontent, it’s probably fair to say you’re very much not alone if you’re feeling less than your best.

One of the indicators of that collective malaise, perhaps, is the rise of a pointedly dingy rock band from Minsk.

Молчат Дома, or Molchat Doma (‘houses are silent’) in English, are racking up millions of plays across streaming websites as their music connects with a broad audience, expressing, as it does, a certain air of moody hopelessness.

Part of a rising genre of music called ‘cold-wave’ or ‘doomer’, the Belarussians formed back in 2017, but are heavily influenced by Perestroika-era Soviet rock music, and have often drawn comparisons to the likes of Joy Division and The Cure for atmospherics found in their solemn brand of synth-addled tunes.

New album ‘Monument’, released on US label Sacred Bones, is widely expected to be the biggest launch pad yet for a band that have featured heavily across playlists and backing tracks in recent months. Their third record featuring some very Soviet-style iconography on the front cover, though the content – largely in their native language – is said to be quite abrasive towards Russian influence in the region.

The coronavirus’ main musical trend to date has been the release of bedroom-recorded albums, the live-streaming of concerts with no one in attendance, and concerns for the continued welfare of musicians who were relying on their work for income.

Molchat Doma surpasses the practicalities and seems to sum up the dinginess of the reality around the industry at the moment. It’s a shame for them, perhaps, that the dark mood their music portrays is likely to lift just as the band are able to tour again.

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