- Ethan O'Donnell
Molchat Doma: Belarusian Post-Punk, TikTok, and The Soviet Union.
Since its release in 2016, TikTok has slowly edged its way forward to become one of the world's leading social media platforms. The app mainly showcases an endless array of dance routines practised and displayed by the millions in lockdown to some new hit sensation. It is fair to say that Molchat Doma -a band from Minsk in Belarus- with a self described sound that is ‘post-punk, new-wave, and [at the] darker ends of synth-pop’ are among the last type of band that you would expect to be the new viral sensation reaching the No. 2 spot on Spotify’s Worldwide Viral Top 50 chart. A chart that is much more used to seeing the likes of ‘WAP’ by Cardi B rocket to the No. 1 spot.
Yet, Molchat Doma’s gorgeously dreary, post-punk sound, alongside the Ian Curtis like vocals of frontman Egor Shkutko, played in the background of a TikTok video uploaded by user Leon Verdinsky. Showcasing the youth culture of St. Petersburg, the video has sparked not only a TikTok sensation with an amassed 7.2 million views, but also a ‘Doomer’-esque yearning for the Soviet past. Verdinsky’s footage of young Russians raving in old Soviet structures has received comments from TikTok users such as ‘the 90s is still happening in Russia’ and ‘Bruh Russia seems like such a vibe’.
But what is a ‘Doomer’? The ‘Doomer’ is best described as a post-social media version of the 'Generation X’. Disillusioned and dissatisfied with the world of technology that they have been born into, the ‘Doomer’ yearns for a time before the oppression of technology. A time when they were free from the iron fist of their phones, a time like… the Soviet Union?
Brutalist Hospital, Moscow
You only need to take a look at Molchat Doma’s record artwork to see how their sound and vision celebrates their country’s brutalist architecture; a reminder of its authoritarian past. However, their sound is far from a celebration of Belarus’ Soviet history. The Soviet past of Belarus has inspired Molchat Doma to their very core, but not because of its new found ‘grunge’ aesthetic. Rather, they echo the struggles and oppression that the Belarusian people faced living in a Soviet satellite state. This pain and hardship taints the band’s work, presented masterfully through Roman Komogortsev’s punchy drum machine work and haunting guitar riffs.
The fact that young TikTok users are viewing the Soviet Union through rose-tinted spectacles may, on the one hand, go along way in reflecting the attitudes of the young towards the world right now, and how it only seems to be getting bleaker by the day. So bleak, that dilapidated, soviet constructivist structures and a time before TikTok seem to offer happiness and solace.
Or maybe it really is just down to it’s ‘insta-worthy’ aesthetic.
You can now stream the latest single from Molchat Doma, ‘Discoteque’ on Spotify HERE.