Mumiy Troll

Comrade Ambassador

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It's tough to put the moniker "Russia's most popular rock band" into perspective, especially compared to the dense crowd of U.S. bands that ride the same fine line between rock and pop. But listening to the domestic debut of Mumiy Troll (pronounced "Moo-mee Troll"), you know for sure that the band's personality translates well across continental boundaries. Mumiy Troll is headed by the flashy pop icon Ilya Lagutenko, whose mug sells magazines in the former Soviet Union at a rate akin to Mick Jagger in mid-'60s America. And the Stones' frontman is an even better comparison when you realize that Lagutenko's popularity has come about because they've been politically and socially condemned. At one point in the band's meteoric rise among the remnants of the Iron Curtain, Mumiy Troll was listed by the local Communist Party Chief as "one of the most socially dangerous bands in the world." This, naturally, immortalized them almost overnight. Their video for Vladivostok 2000 was the first video played on MTV Russia in 1998. After 12 years together and over 1000 gigs, the band made the arbitrary decision to record in L.A. They searched for "best recording studio in Los Angeles," came upon the Village Studio and promptly booked a session. The result is Comrade Ambassador, their U.S. debut. The songs are nothing if not compelling to hear, with the history of their land interwoven into each track. For being pioneers in their own land, it's impressive how closely they come to near current American rock trends. Many songs have a '90s-experimental vibe to them. A thrilling cultural experiment, to say the least, with hopefully more to come.

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