Ирен Попова (Irene Popova) is the sister project of Mai 12, delivering harsh drone soundscapes. Project started in the end of 2017.
The whole idea for the project ignited with a memory from 1977, where Karl’s aunt gave him an encyclopedia. That's where he first read about Sputnik and the classic photo is still stacked in his mind! A conversation with Rene, set things up and the project was on the go. We both have lived the "glorious" 80's with the cold war, the western “paradise of freedom” and the the soviet "nightmare" over our heads, in the midst of capitalism. Something was very wrong in both sides, something we found out years later.
Nevertheless, Soviet aesthetic in Ирен Попова is an important aspect and generally speaking, very interesting, basically for its symbolism and for us, also for the deconstructing of that symbolism. For example, Soviet functionalism in architecture and design, the principle that architects/designers should design buildings and objects based on the purpose of these buildings and objects, is very outspoken on its own, you can extract some solid conclusions about the mentality behind all this. An utopia which reeks of the same problems and dialectics with what this utopia stood against, an illusion with a heavy politburo scent.
The adoption of this concrete aesthetic is a conceptual critique towards a whole era and thereafter, school of thought. A theoretical kick-starter of a kind for us. Soviet era was a time of revolution, change, delusion, political and ideological betrayal, a time of total black humor and absolute suppression, not much different than its western counterpart, except the fancy stuff! Ирен Попова doesn’t do any critique to Marxism/Communism generally, we are only interested to explore and describe our thoughts towards the visual aspect of the Soviet era and on what can come out of it. In a loose way, Ирен Попова is indeed a political project, because the Soviet aesthetics were political in nature, a tool of propaganda, a uniformed trademark of a political universe. Don’t be fooled, same tools of propaganda are evident in any state and we are suffocating in the presence of any organized state.
In contrast, the name of the project comes partially from Lyubov Sergeyevna Popova (1889-1924), a Russian avant-garde artist, painter and designer.
We wanted to create concrete, repetitive and harsh drones, very ritualistic and minimal and we tried to have functionalist approach in our sound and visuals (artwork etc). No, we do not know Russian language!
First album "Πосле Эры Cпутника" (Post Sputkin Era), December 2017, came some time later and it's concept was the Sputnik satellite and the post-Sputnik era, seen as a political, economic, social and psychological landmark of an era. A self-release cassette followed and the project took it's course.
On March 2018, "Oнлайн" (Online) album was released, a conceptual sequel to "Πосле Эры Cпутника" and a little later, a split ep with Mai 12, in which both projects are working the same track and each project infuse it with it's distinctive sound approach. Don’t know if this has happened before, same two people behind two different projects and these projects working together in a split, but we found the idea too weird and funny!
A very limited edition lathe cut of this split EP is in the works.
For the time being, we live on the tiny and volcanic island of Nisyros (GR), a place of extremities and bipolar situations, furthermore as the volcano under our feet is active. “Гигантская Πагода Ηа Κрошечном Βулканическом Οстрове” (A Giant Pagoda On A Tiny Volcanic Island) EP followed, conceptually little different, trying to describe these extremities in sound, with a touch of… Chinese Marxism, saturated with constant high dose of black humor and riddles. Both aspects are always part of our visual and audio work. We are a puzzle, even to ourselves!
“Владимир” (Vladimir), our latest -so far- album, released on July 2018. It is a comment on the life and tragic death of the Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov and the destruction of Soyuz 1 on April 24th, 1967, the first in-flight fatality in the history of spaceflight.
Ирен Попова, same as Mai 12, goes onwards on its own. Material comes up when it comes up, our drones are exploding to space, exploring that space…
Find all the material at Bandcamp, free download/stream it, trade (preferred)/purchase copies from there, communicate with us and propose collaborations, delve in it and dig it, or not…
Karl Grümpe & Rene p.g.
Two visual and sound artists, Karl Grümpe and Rene p.g., met back in 2015 and joined in life and arts ever since.