Kollezhsky Asessor

Moscow rock fans and music critics got one whale of a New Year's greeting: After several years' break, the legendary Kiev supergroup Kollezhsky Asessor hit the local stage in late December.

Asessor's style has no parallels on the Russian, European or American rock scenes. They play spontaneous jazz spiced with elements of rock and subtle impressionist undertones. Their music defies description — it has to be heard and seen. The band is likely to perform in early spring at the Open Music jazz festival in St.Petersburg. We'll keep you posted.

Asessor was one of the major draws at the Other Side of Earth festival at Gorbunov House of Culture, where the band debuted cuts from its new album, Lutsi Iona. The next day every radio station in the city was screaming their praises.

Kollezhsky Asessor's gig was a typical "Russian miracle", a sudden materialization of one of the most mysterious rock legends. Russian rock-music history teems with invisible bands. Such giants as DK and Oblachny Krai released scores of albums and generated a lot of press, but few people actually saw them on stage.

That's how it was for Asessor. They've cut 10 albums in as many years and released a disc in Canada, but you can count their live Russian concerts on the fingers of one hand.

The band formed in 1983 under the name KGB, but changed two years later to Kollezhsky Asessor, after a high-ranking civil servant in tsarist Russia. With the new name came a scandalous image. Dressed in U.S. Navy uniforms, they played aggressive, psychedelic instrumental music. Travka filled the air at their concerts. Few people understood their music in the mid-1980s. The official press blasted them as "crazy psychopaths" and underground magazines dubbed leader Vasily Goidenko a "mad Sergeant Pepper."

Actually, Kollezhsky Asessor was playing music that was several years ahead of its time. In the late '80s Asessor, post-punk group Vopli Vidoplyasova and Rabbota Kho, performing in the style of Cure, formed a union of independent crews Rock-Artel in Kiev.

After Rock-Artel's concerts in Moscow in 1988, Kiev stole Leningrad's crown as the capital of Russian rock, and the new wave of Ukrainian avantgarde became a trans-Europe sensation.

Kollezhsky Asessor hit Program A's Top 5 on national television and a year later they did a triumphant tour of Poland and the New Beginnings festival in Scotland. It was easier to catch Asessor in Europe than in native Kiev.

When they got back from Glasgow, two guitarists suddenly quit at the peak of the band's success. Only two Asessors remained — Vasily Goidenko on vocals, guitar, music and lyrics, and Alexei Ryndenko on drums. They went underground, giving up drugs and their old lifestyles. When singer Natalya Mesyats joined them, the band changed its style and performed in a Sophoclean play, staged at Theatrical Club by the talented young producer Oleg Liptsyn.

Early in 1992, Asessor and bass guitarist Alexander Gridin recorded a new album, Lutsi Iona, in a home studio and took off to tour Austria with Liptsyn's Theatrical Club. A bootleg of one of the album's songs hit the Top 5 of the Slow Hit pop radio show.

A.Kushnir (Moscow Guardian, January 22, 1993)

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