Messer Chups is the low-brow musical concoction of Russian-born artist and musician Oleg Gitarkin, employing audio collage methods to create thick layers of sampling from trash horror films, cartoons,…
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Messer Chups Biography

by Sabrina Jaszi

Messer Chups is the low-brow musical concoction of Russian-born artist and musician Oleg Gitarkin, employing audio collage methods to create thick layers of sampling from trash horror films, cartoons, and other diverse sources. Surf rock drums, big-band influences, and cinema clips show the presence of Gitarkin's western influences, but the band also incorporates antique synthesizers and animations samples identifiable with his Soviet childhood. Adhering stylistically to a number of genres including rockabilly, horror punk, lounge, and surf rock, Messer Chups was founded in 1998 after the breakup of German-Russian psychobilly ensemble Messer für Frau Müller.

When Messer für Frau Müller splintered, guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist Oleg Gitarkin stood firm, recruiting Oleg Kostrow of Phantom for a new-and-improved Messer für Frau Müller. But like most long-distance relationships (Gitarkin lived in Hamburg, Kostrow in Moscow), the pair soon split. Kostrow released his solo work under his own name, but Gitarkin, ever faithful, created the spin-off project Messer Chups (Messer meaning knife, Chups like Chupa Chups, the lollipop).

With Gitarkin in the driver's seat, Messer Chups was a frenzied musical tornado drawing in more and more dialogue and score snippets, surf rock riffs, historical recordings, and antique synthesizers, produced only in the Soviet Union. In 1998, he was joined by German promoter and musician Annette Schneider, who played synthesizer for Messer Chups, then a duo. By then, Gitarkin had relocated to St. Petersburg, where he used audio samples of Schneider's voice to create their first 1999 cassette tape, Chudovishe i Chudovishe ("Monster and Monster"). Schneider left after completion of that album, but St. Petersburg producer Oleg Tarassov was taken with what he heard, and set out to re-release the album on his label, Solnze Records. With new material, reworkings of old tracks, and the musical stylings of Igor Vdovin (keyboard; formerly of the group Leningrad), and others, the product was a whole new album, 2000's Miss Libido. The album drew heavily from Soviet animation, reminiscent of earlier efforts with Messer für Frau Müller. Their next release was 2000's Bride of Atom and showcased even more Messer Chups insanity, this time with samples of vocal ejaculations, and bits and pieces of scary movies and surf rock. 2001's Vamp Babes was a monstrous tribute to B-movies with track names like "Mobile Coffin" and "Cannibal Twist."

The 2002 addition of legacy theremin player Lydia Kavina steered the band toward new musical improbability. Kavina's grand-uncle was Russian theremin inventor Leon Theremin, whose instrument had become a fixture in the same early horror films that Gitarkin so admired. The otherworldly reverberation of the theremin was a natural addition to Messer Chups' 2002 release, Black Black Magic. A fifth album, The Best of Messer Chups: Cocktail Draculina, included new tracks as well as revamped hits. In addition to their committed studio presence, the band had begun to tour extensively in Russia, Western Europe, and the United States. Not surprisingly, live shows breached the multimedia, treating audiences to hectic montages of the group's most cherished works of cinema by directors like Ed Wood and Russ Meyer.

Crazy Price 2005's album, Crazy Price supplements their already wraith-like lineup with harp. The same year they also released Hyena Safari, and in 2007, Zombie Shopping. In the interval between the two albums, Messer für Frau Müller reappeared on Russian and German stages, and also in the recording studio. In 2008, Messer Chups comprised Gitarkin (guitar, samples, video), Zombie Girl (bass), and Oleg Peskov (drums).

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