Huiniya hold-up

The club Platforma was packed on Monday. Some fans were even locked outside the launch party for the long-awaited ?Huiniya,? the joint album by Leningrad and bizarre U.K. cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies.

By Sergey Chernov
Photo by Alexander Belenky / SPT

 The club Platforma was packed on Monday. Some fans were even

locked outside the launch party for the long-awaited ?Huiniya,? the

joint album by Leningrad and bizarre U.K. cabaret trio The Tiger


What?s more, there was no concert planned, though

indistinctly worded advertizing had led many to believe there would be.

Instead, the crowd was only treated with a documentary about the

recording sessions and the album itself.

Absurdly, the album

that was recorded over three days at St. Petersburg?s Dobrolyot Studios

in Sept. 2003 was still not in sight. Having been postponed for various

reasons quite a few times since then, it even failed to appear on the

last confirmed date of Jan. 15.

According to Pavel Golovin of

the Moscow-based label/promoter BadTaStE, which represents the British

band in Russia, no new release date has been set.

?[Leningrad?s record label] Shnur?OK and The Tiger Lillies are busy

discussing contractural problems at the moment,? he said by phone this

week. ?It will be on sale immediately after they agree on the contract.?

All the same, Leningrad?s Sergei Shnurov seemed proud of the album at the so-called launch party on Monday.

?I listened to it again recently, and I like it even better than before,? he said.

?It is rough, but it?s good just because it?s rough. It?s spontaneous

and it reflects the spirit of what was happening [in the studio],

nothing has been tidied up.?

The 14-track CD contains 12 of

Leningrad?s takes on The Tiger Lillies?songs, with the song ?Alkash?

(Drunk) based on the British band?s ?Swine? represented in two

versions, and two Leningrad songs, ?Vodka? and ?Psikh? (Madman),

performed by the trio.

Shnurov said ?Suka? (Bitch) and ?Sud?

(Judgment Day), the latter being a reworking of The Tiger Lillies?s

?Crack of Doom,? were his favorites on the album.

?There?s very little what left from the original; we?ve transfigured all the music and lyrics.?

Shnurov shares singer and songwriter Martyn Jacques?s interest in urban

lowlife, so the drunks and sluts from The Tiger Lillies?s songs suit

the album, but the religious subjects of ?Judgment Day? and ?Hell? are

somewhat foreign to Leningrad.

?It was OK for me to sing it,

but I did reject many songs,? said Shnurov, adding that he was given

all The Tiger Lillies?albums to choose from.

Shnurov, who does

not speak English, wrote the Russian lyrics from translations by a

Moscow friend credited as ?Mamont? (Mammoth) in the album?s sleeve


?He did word-for-word translations, and I was doing

little poems out of them ? but I ignored the songs?meaning altogether,?

said Shnurov, who wrote lyrics for the song ?Rvota? (Vomit), based on

The Tiger Lillies?s ?Fishheads,? on his knee in 10 minutes in the

corridor while the band was going through an instrumental part in the


The song ?Nashe Show? (Our Show) is taken from The

Tiger Lillies??Cheapest Show,? but while Jacques sings about a bad

circus troupe, Shnurov?s version is about a band that might well be

Leningrad. Shnurov claimed the meaning was totally different.

 ?They sing about a circus, but not about themselves,? he said.

?Our context is absolutely different. They sing, ?Look, what a horrible

circus exists somewhere, in a mythical space,?but in our version this

circus is us. It?s about show business, in a way.?

Shnurov was

among early Russian fans of The Tiger Lillies in the late 1990s and was

profoundly influenced by the band when working on Leningrad?s second

album ?Mat (Bez Electrichestva).?

The no-frills, minimalist

album released in December 1999 became a breakthrough for Leningrad,

with Shnurov, who wrote all the band?s material and played bass, also

taking up vocals, after the band?s first vocalist Igor Vdovin had quit.

One of the album?s highlights was ?Diky Muzhchina? (?Wild Man?), adapted from Jacques?song ?Whore.?

In a way, ?Huiniya? sounds a bit similar to ?Mat,? a similarity that appeals to Shnurov, he said.

The idea of the collaboration came at The Tiger Lillies?concert at Red

Club in April 2003, when Shnurov paid his respect to the trio by making

a surprise appearance to sing ?Wild Man/Whore? with The Tiger Lillies


BadTaStE?s Sergei Korsakov suggested it to Shnurov and he jumped to at the chance.

?It was simply interesting to me; I had no other thoughts at all,? said Shnurov. ?I like to set myself impossible tasks.?

?Sergei is a really good singer; he is probably even a better singer

than people realize,? said Jacques soon after the recording sessions

with Leningrad. ?I think he?s got seeds of greatness in him.?

?He?s got an emotion. I think Sergei?s voice is lived-in; he?s a person

who?s seen things, suffered,? he said. ?I think he?s got that kind of