Megapolis

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Megapolis are a Moscow-based rock group started by Oleg Nesterov in 1986. Unlike many of its contemporaries whose careers were meddled with (or worse) by the Soviet regime, Megapolis lived a comparatively…
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Megapolis are a Moscow-based rock group started by Oleg Nesterov in 1986. Unlike many of its contemporaries whose careers were meddled with (or worse) by the Soviet regime, Megapolis lived a comparatively charmed existence that began just before the thaw of perestroika. Their music combined elements of electronica with pop/rock, and they were one of the first groups to explore the possibilities of the music video as an art form to accompany musical works. Megapolis are also notable for their role in promoting the careers of young indie musicians in the new millennium. Megapolis's debut, Utro (Morning), was self-released in May 1987. A couple months after their debut, Megapolis were standouts at a festival of the Moscow Rock Laboratory. The press and public were immediately attracted to their comfort in the then-uncharted sphere of electronic music, a rarity at the time. In this period, Oleg Nesterov led the group with guitar and vocals, Andrei Belov played bass, Mikhail Alesin was the drummer, Aleksandr Suzdalev and Arkady Martinenko played keyboards, and Igor Zhigunov was featured on percussion.

It didn't take long for Megapolis to be signed to the government label Melodia, which re-released the group's debut, Utro, and released its second album, Bednie Ludi (Poor People), which was considered characteristic of the Moscow sound at the time. In 1989 the group filmed its first two music videos and played concerts all over Russia. Megapolis' relationship with Germany found its beginning in a 20-minute program about the group on German radio and a performance at an international German music festival in August. The group toured with American rockers the Beatnigs. During this period the group's lineup was significantly altered: Mikhail Gabolaevim returned to replace Andrei Belov on bass, Andrei Nadolsky became the group's new drummer, and from June to December Yuriy Matzenov played guitar. That summer the group appeared in the film Nash Chelovek v San-Remo (Our Man in San Remo), whose soundtrack included four of the group's songs.

Pyostrie Veterochki (Motley Breezes) was released in July 1990 by the Mosfilm studio, with the hit single "Novie Moskovskie Sirtaki" (New Moscow Sirtaki), whose lyrics were adapted from a poem by Vosnesenky. Another song on the album, "Tam" (There), was adapted from a poem by Josef Brodsky. Keyboardist Aleksandr Suzdalev left the group in 1991, and a new album, Zhenskoe Serdtzo (A Woman's Heart), was also recorded that year. The group started a project to translate Russian hits into German, and then in February 1992 took off for Germany to perform and make TV and radio appearances. In December the group lost drummer Andrei Nadolsky. In 1993 Megapolis occupied themselves with music videos, dance remixes, festivals, and the preparation of a self-titled album, which was to be released on a German label. Its German release occurred in August 1994, and in September, it was released in Russia.

In December the group welcomed drummer Aleksandr Filonenko and guitarist Andrei Kifiyak, and May of the next year bid farewell to guitarist Yuriy Matzenov. Megapolis spent 1996 assembling their next release, the German-recorded Groza v Derevne (Rural Threat), and found time to give their best to current president Boris Yeltsin (who was currently undergoing heart surgery) with a special music video, Vizdorablivayte, Boris Nikolaevich! (Get Well Soon, Boris Nikolaevich!), which quickly joined the hit parade on music TV. The new album, released at the end of the year, was lyrical and meditative, a departure from previous compositions.

By 1998 the group had become an institution of Russian rock history. That year Malenkaya Istoriya (Short Story) -- a documentary film comprised of ten years of Megapolis' concert footage, archived materials, videos, and interviews -- and the first best-of album were released. The group's co-leaders, Gabolaevim and Nesterov, began to give back to the rock community, producing groups like Masha I Medvedi (Masha & the Bears) and Lakmus, in 1999 founding their own label, Snegeri Music. Also, a new guitarist, Maksim Leonov, joined the ensemble. In 2000 the group was playing mostly acoustic shows with new drummer Aleksey Kodlubovich. In the following years the group seemed to retreat from public view, but in 2006 a new song was composed and, in typical Megapolis style, a music video followed in 2007.