Inescapably Present – “Blackout” by St Petersburg duo Supernova 1006

Supernova 1006
Sierpien Records

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One thousand twelve years ago, as April lapsed into May, a star approximately 7200 light years away in the constellation Lupus exploded in a fury of such strength and brilliance that the light expelled from its core, according to some reports, was visible even in the daytime. Almost certainly, as Wikipedia states, “the brightest observed stellar event in recorded history,” witnessed across the breadth of the northern hemisphere, it makes our much-celebrated solar eclipses and Perseid meteor showers and Northern Lights and such literally pale by comparison. But rather than enviously lament the sensational fireworks available to our forbears sixty years before the Norman Conquest, take solace in the fact that the residual effects of that unimaginably spectacular celestial lightshow are still being felt today, inspiring as it has this namesake duo (Andrey Yukhovich songwriter singer guitar, Elizabeth Dolgikh drums and synths) out of St Petersburg, Russia.

Propulsing across borders, spinning shards of darkened light while embracing, to some extent anyway, the dynamics of their name-inspiring phenomenon with tracks named “Juggernaut” and “Gravity,” Supernova 1006 can at the very least lay claim to exuding their own level of commandingly splendid power over the post-punk/synthwave universe as it exists here in 2018 AD.

Their third full-length (and second for emerging powerhouse label Sierpien) since 2015, Blackout finds the band continuing the same nuanced assault on the deeply-grooved, synth-framed darkwave frontier that has soundtracked their reputation’s rapid ascent that began with debut Talons, the only difference at this point being an even greater nuance – reflecting, no doubt, the pair’s growing confidence in the studio – and a quality of assault that, while unchanged in intensity, feels as if it’s seething with an increased compression, a kind of blistering restraint vibrating just under the surface that oftentimes suggests a command of dynamics akin to that of Luis Vasquez at his most viscerally melodic.


Though beginning tamely enough – “Ladder” steps out with a haunted systolic beat and a shadowy synth fog and manages to keep itself inside the reverbed parameters of a drone-hypnotic dark pop song (the frantic here most assuredly expressed as an undercurrent) – there’s not a lot of respite offered thereafter. “Run (All Systems),” launching atop an iconic quote from The Day the Earth Stood Still, is a breathless sci-fi banger that could well scare the masses both on to and off of the dance floor, up-next “Juggernaut,” takes its predecessor’s cues and ramping them up, goes, if you’ll pardon my saying, for the throbbing industrial jugular, while first single “Going Wrong” is a superb example of ecstatic whiplash, emerging from a lurking cloud of eroded radio static into a full-on rhythmic trounce in the blink of a nervous paranoic’s eye. Meanwhile, the sparse – if heavily enshrouded – “Amnesia,” featuring Austin’s Mr. Kitty, boasts an almost epileptic grace like an extended seizure under exquisite control. Though much of the album utilizes – quite persuasively – fractured effects and sharp snippets of inserted dialogue that tip it outwardly toward the lightly experimental/conceptual (there’s little doubt that we’re in modern dystopian territory here), it’s not an entirely surprising irony that Blackout‘s highlight cut (if only by a micron) is the fairly straightforward “All Over Again,” though even there the shiny-as-chrome sound profile and smoothly hurtling 4/4 tempo only serves to more pointedly underscore the Blade Runnered – and none more timely – mood racing through the center of this record.


Whether confrontational – “Borders Are Lost (Disappear)” rather rages with impetus, slashing out immediately with a pounding impatience that even a breather of a bridge can’t manage to calm – or (ever-so-slightly) lighthearted – “We Don’t Care” with its out-front impudence and perfectly shameless 80’s-styled synth claps – this pair’s intensity and commitment, their ability to harness the darker emotions and shape them into sounds and beats that move in equal measure both muscle and imagination, puts them quite nearly in a jarring league of their own. Escapist and inescapably real, inescapably present, Blackout proves itself as not only one of this young year’s best post-punk albums but, more impressively, that Supernova 1006 are unquestionably at the top of their game. And that, given how ‘on’ their game has been from pretty much the beginning, is very good news indeed.