Avant-garde artists

Avant-garde artists

A host of cutting-edge musicians descend on the city for the annual SKIF festival.

Published: May 16, 2012 (Issue # 1708)


Chrome Hoof, an experimental orchestra from London, will play SKIF.

Genesis P-Orridge — of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV fame — will headline SKIF (the Sergei Kuryokhin International Festival), St. Petersburg’s leading experimental and avant-garde music event that will be held this week for the 16th time.

The U.K.-born, U.S.-based musician, who will perform with his/her band PTV3, is perhaps the most experimental artist to appear at SKIF so far. Genesis P-Orridge’s experimentation has involved his/her own body, having dozens of operations, including breast implants, to form a “pandrogynous” entity with his/her now-late wife.

Sixty-two-year-old industrial-rock and electronica pioneer P-Orridge (born Neil Andrew Megson) had problems with the British authorities because of his/her radical art, and declared a “self-imposed exile” to California in the early 1990s.

In 2009, the now-Brooklyn-based P-Orridge announced his/her retirement from touring in “any and all bands” to concentrate on art, writing and music, but lately appears to have had second thoughts.

However, the festival’s organizers warn that “every concert could be the last, and it can’t be excluded that this visit to Russia will be the last in the history of the band.”

Chrome Hoof, an experimental orchestra from London, will be the main act to perform on the second night.

Featuring from eight to 14 members, the band performs a mixture of very diverse music styles. “Doom metal, disco, acid house and Donna Summer had a car crash on the highway to oblivion,” Chrome Hoof’s official biography states.

“Chrome Hoof emerged from the wreckage, grooving.”

The Belgian-American-French trio Hoquets — pronounced “OK” — mostly play with instruments that they invent and construct out of wooden boards, broken strings, tin cans, etc. in their Brussels workshop, according to the band’s website.

They admit influences of indie pop, hip-hop, punk, funk, sound art and the “strangeness of their homeland, Belgium.”

Slugabed (aka: Young Brighton-based musician Greg Feldwick) from the British label Ninja Tune will bring some electronic music that “influences both classic and contemporary, from the outermost reaches of dubstep, hip hop and beyond,” according to the label.

From Norway comes Next Life. Founded by guitarist and composer Hai Nguyen Dinh in 1999 in Tonsberg, the band also features Tormod Christensen on bass and Anders Hangard on drums and has been described as “progressive, electronic- and rock-based.”

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, also known by the acronym TKDE, formed in 2000 as a project to compose new music for existing silent movies.

Based in The Netherlands, the band uses traditional instrumentations, comprising cello, trombone, violin, beats, guitar, bass and vocals, computers and visuals.

SKIF was launched in memory of the late St. Petersburg musician Sergei Kuryokhin and aims to continue his music and performance ideas by drawing experimental bands that are believed to be kindred in spirit with him.

Kuryokhin was active on the local scene from the 1970s, first as a jazz and rock pianist and keyboard player, then as a film composer. He could be seen playing with the seminal rock band Akvarium and at avant-garde jazz performances.


PTV3, featuring Genesis P-Orridge, will headline this year’s festival.

From the mid-1980s, he led Pop Mekhanika, a band with no permanent lineup whose large-scale happening-like performances featured brass bands, string ensembles, ballerinas and animals. He died of a rare heart disease at the age of 42 in 1996.

The festival dedicated to his memory was launched in January 1997 by Boris Rayskin, a cello player who had earlier emigrated from St. Petersburg to New York.

Rayskin, who had played with Kuryokhin in Pop Mekhanika, had the idea of bringing musicians from diverse music fields together.

The very first event, which was called SKIIF (spelled with two “I”s), or the Sergei Kuryokhin International Interdisciplinary Festival, took place at a number of New York venues such as The Knitting Factory, Cooler and the Bitter End, lasted 11 days and featured Cecil Taylor, David Moss and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.

The second event in March 1998 was held to mark Rayskin’s sudden death, after which the festival was moved to St. Petersburg, where the third event was held in October that same year. Since then, the festival has been held annually in the city.

Originally migrating between various city venues such as the St. Petersburg Palace of Youth and Baltiisky Dom, SKIF moved to the former Soviet Priboi film theater, which was redesigned as the Sergei Kuryokhin Modern Art Center in 2005.

SKIF 16 Schedule

Friday, May 18


8 p.m Vuk (Finland)

9:30 p.m. PTV3 (U.S.)

11:30 p.m. Hoquets (Belgium)

12:45 a.m. Napszyklat (Poland)

2 a.m. Slugabed (U.K.)

3 a.m. Galun


The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble will play on Saturday night.

4 a.m. DJ set


7:30 p.m. St. Petersburg Improvisers


8:45 p.m. Borovik Yeralash

9:45 p.m. Ned Hoper

10:45 p.m. Mona De Bo

Saturday, May 19


8 p.m. Eivind Aarset The Sonic

Codex Orchestra (Norway)

9:45 p.m. Next Life (Norway)

10:45 p.m. Chrome Hoof (U.K.)

12:15 a.m. The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz


Belgian-American-French trio Hoquets will perform on Friday.

Ensemble (The Netherlands)

1:45 a.m. Za! (Spain)

3 a.m. Kap Bambino (France)

4 a.m. DJ set


7:30 p.m. Kreatiivmootor (Estonia)

8:45 p.m. Key Is a Key (Denmark)

10 p.m. Usssy

11:15 Madlene’s Sax Trip

All events are held at the Sergei

Kuryokhin Modern Art Center at

93 Sredny Prospekt, Vasilyevsky

Island. M.: Vasileostrovskaya,

Primorskaya. Tel: 322 4223.


Leave a comment