Champions of Russian IDM, EU (Elochnie Igrushki in Russian, meaning Christmas baubles) are the brainchild of electronic musicians Alexander Zaitsev and Ilya Baramiya, childhood friends from the St. Petersburg suburb of Lomonosov. Drawing more influence from the quixotic soundtracks of the Soviet film establishment than from DJ sets, EU produce songs rather than tracks, with a devotion to melody. Beats travel cleanly as the music drifts a little above the electronic medium, but stays down to earth. After their first 1997 release, one track issued by the St. Petersburg label Perforation Records, EU dedicated a year to experimentation with any and all available technology, including a PC, a Boss DR-660, and old analog keys in their home studio. Their tweaking paid off with two recordings in 1999: a self-titled cassette tape and a split cassette collaboration with Tenzor called Rhythmic Manipulation. Leftover tracks were recycled to make their first full-length album, EU_Soft, released on Moscow's Art-tek.
But EU were in search of something bigger than the prospective but still dinky Russian scene, and it wasn't long before they were drawing bids from British labels and acting as electronic ambassadors to Europe and beyond. Pause_2 released their first vinyl single, 2001's mini-album Reframing, and 2003's full-length Warm Math, a tepid pool of glitch and gratifying chord progressions. Lo Recordings also took notice, inviting EU to London to produce some tracks for the singer Addie Brik and two compilations of Russian electronic music: 2001's Ru.Electronic and 2003's Ru.Electronic Two. Under the moniker of Christmas Baubles, Lo also released their 2003 album, Christmas Baubles & Their Strange Sounds, the duo's personal exploration of the improvisational side of electronic music. Then they took a breather, redirecting their energies toward the rap project 2H Company and collaboration with shock poet Stas Baretsky. Both participated in EU's next album, Dikie Yolochnie Igrushki (The Wild Christmas Baubles), which brought out the meaty uncultivated underside of their past dreamy soundscapes. EU also increasingly dedicated themselves to live performance, laboring long hours over adaptations of their work to the concert format.