Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Vivisectors at Otto's Shrunken Head

Surf rock from Russia? The Vivisectors formed as a solo project in 1999 in Moscow, when Mike Antipow assembled tracks on his home computer using live guitar and organ sounds with drum loops. He recorded five albums that included lo-fi psychedelic surf rock instrumental versions of traditional Russian prison songs that were banned by the Soviet government ("gulag tunes"). The Vivisectors first performed live in 2004. Antipow later relocated to Brooklyn, New York, and forms a trio for live performances that can include Ivan Antipow (bass) and New York native Ronan Berry (drums).

Unsteady Freddie has hosted surf nights at Otto's Shrunken Head on the first Saturday of each month for 16 years, leaving no surf untouched. Tonight it seemed he was challenged to communicate with the Russians, holding a clock and pointing to the minute hand to show them how much time they had left on stage. Did the musicians really not speak English? Well, surf music is all instrumental, so dialogue is never required. Not only did the Vivisectors play the Dick Dale/Ventures guitar-based instrumentals expected on a surf night, the trio fired some blues and twang, but most impressively incorporated heavy sounds that approached death metal. When the Vivisectors crunched the chromatic rhythms of the theme song from the gore film Grindhouse, at least for the moment the Vivisectors were perhaps the darkest surf band around.

Visit the Vivisectors at