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AQUARIUM

Prog Folk • Russia


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Aquarium biography
AQUARIUM are a legendary Russian rock band, formed by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Boris Grebenshikov in Leningrad in 1972, along with Anatoly Gunitsky, poet and playwright.
In the 70's rock was banned in the communist Soviet Union, so rock bands were forced to remain underground and could not record albums. They played mostly to intimate audiences in private apartments or small auditoriums. These concerts were popular among Soviet's few lovers of Rock music, as there was no exposure to Western rock bands. The concerts were sometimes taped on simple recorders, and those low-quality recordings were the only way to get records on tape.
AQUARIUM became one of those who made it big after Rock became accepted in Russia in
the 80's. Led by a Grebenshikov throughout their career, their influences aside from
traditional Russian folk music vary from THE BEATLES and David Bowie to progressive
artists like JETHRO TULL, KING CRIMSON, ROXY MUSIC, etc. Also reggae influence is
clearly visible on certain tracks.

Grebenshikov is also deeply into Buddhism, thus many of his compositions and lyrics was also heavily influenced by Indian/Buddhist music and philosophy. His beautiful lyrics are mostly surreal and oftentimes seem nonsensical as he builds associations about various social, spiritual and sometimes ironic themes. Many of his early songs criticize Soviet's social aspects and require "reading between the lines" because it was forbidden to criticize Socialist society. Many of these songs are no longer understandable to the youth as the terms and events he refers to become outdated and forgotten.

Up to 1987 AQUARIUM recorded all their albums in their own underground studio disguised as a "Young Technicians Club". The quality of the albums was very good for such conditions. Now albums from this period are available on remastered CDs. When the advent of Glasnost finally gave Russian Rock publicity, AQUARIUM skyrocketed to popularity. They could now play in large halls and release albums. They have appeared on the television and wrote a couple movie soundtracks, such as "Assa" and "Black Rose - Emblem of Sorrow, Red Rose - Emblem of Love". In 1987 they have released their album "Ravnodenstvie" on an official Government-owned label, Melodiya ("Melody"). With official backing and legalized distribution the album was a huge hit in USSR, selling well over a million copies within a few months. This was, however, the last
alb...
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  • King Of Sleep Любимые песни Рамзеса IV [Favorite Songs Of Ramzes IV], 1993

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AQUARIUM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

AQUARIUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.25 | 17 ratings
Синий Альбом / Blue Album
1981
3.07 | 16 ratings
Треугольник / Triangle
1981
2.93 | 14 ratings
Электричество / Electricity
1981
3.73 | 15 ratings
Акустика / Acoustics
1982
3.95 | 18 ratings
Табу / Taboo
1982
3.74 | 27 ratings
Радио Африка / Radio Africa
1983
3.95 | 20 ratings
День Серебра [Day Of Silver]
1984
3.33 | 15 ratings
Дети Декабря [December's Children]
1985
3.70 | 20 ratings
Равноденствие [Equinox]
1987
2.90 | 10 ratings
Assa (OST)
1987
2.44 | 9 ratings
Radio Silence
1989
1.71 | 7 ratings
Radio London
1990
4.05 | 30 ratings
Русский альбом [Russan Album]
1991
3.64 | 11 ratings
Любимые песни Рамзеса IV [Favorite Songs Of Ramzes IV]
1993
2.56 | 9 ratings
Пески Петербурга [Sands Of Petersburg]
1994
3.59 | 17 ratings
Кострома mon amour [Kostroma mon amour]
1994
3.17 | 12 ratings
Навигатор [Navigator]
1995
3.75 | 12 ratings
Снежный лев [Snow Lion]
1996
3.20 | 10 ratings
Гиперборея [Hyperborea]
1997
3.33 | 9 ratings
Лилит [Lilith]
1997
3.00 | 9 ratings
Psy
1999
3.20 | 10 ratings
Сестра Хаос [Sister Chaos]
2002
3.22 | 9 ratings
Песни рыбака [Fisherman's Songs]
2003
3.43 | 14 ratings
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM
2005
3.62 | 13 ratings
Беспечный русский бродяга [Careless Russian Rover]
2006
3.20 | 11 ratings
Лошадь белая / White Horse
2008
2.26 | 8 ratings
Пушкинская, 10 / Pushkinskaya 10
2009
3.90 | 12 ratings
Архангельск / Arkhangelsk
2011
3.50 | 4 ratings
Аквариум + / Aquarium +
2013
3.50 | 6 ratings
Соль / The Salt
2014

AQUARIUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.25 | 8 ratings
Ихтиология [Ichtiology]
1984
2.90 | 10 ratings
Десять стрел [Ten Arrows]
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
Письма капитана Воронина. Концерт в Вятке / The Letters of Captain Voronin. Live in Vjatka
1993
4.00 | 2 ratings
День радости [Day of Joy]
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Оракул Божественной Бутылки [The Oracle of the Divine Bottle] (Live 1998)
2010

AQUARIUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

AQUARIUM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 2 ratings
Аквариум / Aquarium
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Аквариум: XXI век / Aquarium: XXI Century
2012

AQUARIUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Christmas Night
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Праздник урожая во Дворце труда
2013

AQUARIUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Табу / Taboo by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.95 | 18 ratings

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Табу / Taboo
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars After the mostly folk debut with some mild fusion Аквариум (Aquarium) started to ramp up their experimental side and created some seriously good art rock. Табу (Taboo) is their 4th official release and there's no folk to be found here. Instead we get a collage of sounds with the primary template for the tracks varying from new wave, blues, Steely Dan type jazz-rock, BTO type boogie rock to reggae.

The most distinct feature of this particular album is the absolutely bizarre, demented and frenetic ragtime and honky tonk piano that accompanies many of the songs. It's always slightly out of tune and adds a weird tension to the otherwise melodious tracks. The result of this is a very strange sounding album that doesn't sound like any other i've heard before. There are also some guitar solos that compete with saxophone solos that give it the occasional jazzy touch. I like this art rock much better than their folky debut but their experimental phase started on their 2nd album Треугольник (Triangle).

 Синий Альбом / Blue Album by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.25 | 17 ratings

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Синий Альбом / Blue Album
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Аквариум (Aquarium) is a folk rock/reggae/fusion band formed in 1972 from St Petersburg (then Leningrad), Russia. Since rock music was strictly regulated in the Soviet Union in the 70s most artists in the genre resorted to playing venues in private apartments to compete for a contract with the only record label owned by the government called Melodiya.

Аквариум (Aquarium) was one of those controversial bands that always pushed the boundaries of what was allowed. The point where they became more well known is when they played at the 1980 Tbilisi Rock Festival (in the Republic of Georgia). Although they were banned from the festival for outrageous stage antics, they nevertheless gathered a cult following that continues to this day.

Although Синий альбом (Blue Album) is the debut album by Аквариум (Aquarium) they in fact produced a number of homemade releases before this first proper album was released in 1981. They are typically classified generically as rock but their albums have completely different sounds and on this one they are pretty much acoustic folk with some electric rock guitar and reggae blended in as well. In fact, the very first track reminds me of Bob Dylan while the second sounds a lot like John Lennon. All lyrics are in Russian. A very interesting historical piece of Soviet Russian history as this is an important album in the development of the musical industry behind the Iron Curtain. The music here is slightly progressive as it adds some intresting effects and some mild fusion. A decent but not outstanding debut album.

 Архангельск / Arkhangelsk by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.90 | 12 ratings

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Архангельск / Arkhangelsk
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by Aprilfrost

4 stars My first contact with "Aquarium" and Boris Grebenshicov was about 1989 in Hamburg, Germany, when a Russian tenant named Alexander and his wife Svetlana - both of them multilingual interpreters - settled in the flat next to mine. He asked me if I new Russian musicians, especially Boris G. and he intrduced me to an album that I don't remember now. But the music was best labeled as Russian folk rock. 23 years later and 19 years after I left Hamburg I read st about Grebenshicov in the internet and I thought it must be nice to listen to his music again. So I bought this 2011 album "Archangelsk". I learned that Archangelsk is a town in northern russia. As I don't understand the russian language and I cannot read Cyrillic letters I have not the slightest idea about the meaning of the lyrics. Whatever, the music is slightly different from what I remember of the eighties. It's harder, melodic, and with rough rythms with much use of a flute and a violin. Sometimes it reminds me on the Waterboys. But the style is unique. So order the album and let yourself be surprised. NB: my CD has 8 Bonus-Tracks.
 Треугольник / Triangle by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.07 | 16 ratings

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Треугольник / Triangle
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by Jack A Lynn

3 stars My hometown of Udine, Italy (in north-eastern Italy, not far from Austria and Slovenia... quite hard to spot on a map, actually) is not exactly short of Ukrainian immigrants: in fact, a classmate of mine at the primary school was Ukrainian, and a 3-people Ukrainian family lives some 50 metres from my family's apartment. So, some weeks after I started my researches on beyond-the-iron-curtain progressive rock bands, I asked them if they knew Aquarium, as I suspected that they were popular in the ex-USSR area just as PFM are popular in my homeland. Some months after, I receved two (legally compiled!) mp3 CDs covering the first 10 Aquarium albums, in the remastered edition with bonus tracks. I started from Треугольник since it's the first on the compilation, thought Aquarium's early chronology is quite controversial since some albums are recorded in a some years' span.

Snobb rightfully wonders how much this music can be accepted and interesting for the "normal world"; Boris Grebenshikov himself describes the record as "an album of pure and unaccountable absurdity". In fact, I would have never expect such an absurd album coming from the Soviet regime. Pieces are all short, the longest being Мой муравей (My Ant) clocking in at 3:46; lots of crackling sound effects (due to, probably, the fact that those effects were recorded on tape and badly edited for the record) are employed over the whole album. Although compositions are mostly acoustic and similar in instrumentations, the album sounds like split in two parts. In fact, the record is split in Tin Side and Bronze Side, but I actually feel that side 2 should begin with the last two tracks of side 1. The first part is mainly composed of almost Zappa-like bizarre and humourous musical sketches, and since I can't speak or understand Russian sadly spoils the whole experience (since I'm going to study foreign language, I might cope with that problem in a few years' time), while the second one is composed of mostly melancholic, folksy numbers, in which there are occasional hints of medieval folk. I don't know if it depends from the language barrier, but to me the album has a quite unfocused feeling over its duration... which is quite normal for a band at its early stages, after all.

Musically, Boris Grebenshikov's unmistakable voice and Sergey Kurekhin's piano dominates the record, nicely complemented by Romanov's flute and guitar and Gakkel's cello, while bassist-drummer Fainstein has a quite subdued role, since the numbers are almost entirely acoustic.

The recording quality is obviously below early 80s standards, but not unlistenable as one might think... mind that these are not professional recordings!

Recommended to people keen on folksy bizarries and, obviously, to the few Russian speaking people still unaware of the existence of Aquarium.

 Лошадь белая / White Horse by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.20 | 11 ratings

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Лошадь белая / White Horse
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Last to date Aquarium studio album is what you can expect from this band at the end of first decade of XXI century. For a years the band became more personal project of his founder, vocalist and leader Boris Grebenschikov. Very recognisable voice, acoustic sound beauty, down tempo songs with exotic rhythms and rare instruments.

Djivan Gasparyan on duduk , big wind and strings musicians team, accordion. Band always had his own sound and atmosphere. But there are two big problems with this album. First, the great formula once invented could not be used for a few decades without serious changes. But Aquarium music almost didn't changed during last some years.

Second problem is band almost missed it's energy or let say "rock" ingredient of it's music. Sound is liquid, almost meditative, but when song after song is sounding like that, listener could be bored soon.

Third problem is for listener without Russian language knowledge. Even if esoteric, lyrics build better effect in combination with music there, than the music itself.

Overall one more average band 's album. Not bad but absolutely predictable. One between some similar band's albums.

Around 2,5.

 Christmas Night by AQUARIUM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Christmas Night
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars One of the first 2010 releases. Aquarium single is based on their usual very acoustic melodic sound with strong Russian folk roots. Only one song, and it's Christmas song. Lyrics is based on classic Russian poet A.Fet.

Rare Christmas song which is light and fresh, without usual repetitive clichs! Even bell's sound used is different from annoying usual supermarkets-soundtrack bells. Very Russian song ( on it's best).

And there is a soul in it. Still possible for free download from their official site.

 Пушкинская, 10 / Pushkinskaya 10 by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.26 | 8 ratings

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Пушкинская, 10 / Pushkinskaya 10
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Outtakes compilation from band's archives. Mostly songs of two kind : heavily strings acoustic and with electronics background.

Everyone familiar with band's music will feel that big part of songs are more demo-versions, not real songs. There are mainly melody and song structure, but sound is very schematic, without characteristic arrangements, sometimes just minimalistic.

For sure you will easily recognize Boris Grebenschikov very specific vocal and common band's sound. But there isn't real full album, more release for collectors.

 Треугольник / Triangle by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.07 | 16 ratings

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Треугольник / Triangle
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars It's a very strange feeling for me: russian "Aquarium" in Progarchives!

I first had listen this album ( on underground cassette, of course) still being a student in former USSR. My country was occupied by Russian Army, rude and always half-drunk russians still were on control of small old Baltic nation. KGB eye was everywhere, some rare vynil albums from West were unlegal, total contraband. You can't imagine that even in your nightmare dream!

During one on my first vist to St.Petersburg ( Leningrad in that time for sure), my friends- Leningrad's students gave me this cassette to listen. It was not usual underground rock, but some strange, unusual songs. Acoustic piano, guitar, harmonica, middempo, unusual melodies and methaphysical lyrics. To be honest, it was so unusual, that I didn't accepted it at once. But just made my copy ( using cassette recorder).

After, at home, listened this music again and again, I found this music for myself and became heavy fan of that group. Being one of most "free" cities in "Empire Of Evil", Vilnius was good place for rock fans. Very soon I had the possibility to listen "Aquarium" in one of the first ( half- underground) rock festivals in USSR.

They were kind of strange genius. Mix of classic rock, acoustic solos, folk, indian music, rock'n'roll and weird dzen-budism and impressionism in lyrics ( with crazy soviet reality somwhere deep in their basics). They for a long became spiritual leaders of young intellectuals from dark side of Iron Curtain.

Great question - how much this music can be accepted and interesting for the "normal world"? OK, at least it is original example of russian unortodox folk-prog-avantgarde.

 Русский альбом [Russan Album] by AQUARIUM album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.05 | 30 ratings

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Русский альбом [Russan Album]
Aquarium Prog Folk

Review by progismylife

5 stars In an effort to expand my musical horizons, I find myself exploring progressive rock bands that not only sing in a different language but incorporate the culture of that country in the music as well. This is one of those bands.

Aquarium is a band from Russia (the name in Russian spelling is - at least that's as close as I could get to spelling it correctly). Actually it would be better described as Boris Grebenshikov's band since he is ht one the revived the band to release what is essentially a solo album (sort of like Robert Fripp and reforming King Crimson). I am from the United States, so my outlook on albums by this band will be a bit different than the reviewers who experienced this culture and, perhaps, the effect the Soviet Union had on this band.

One of the first things I noticed about this album was the singing. Now obviously I cannot understand Russian but I can enjoy the singing. The beauty of the human voice can be missed if you know the language as you pay attention to what is sung but sometimes not how it is sung. Boris Grebenshikov's voice is a good accompanist to the music here. It conveys the emotion and feeling through the sound and the rhythm of the words spoken. It is truly an awesome thing to hear the human voice as an instrument and not as a vehicle for lyrics.

And now onto the music.

This album is a soft album with no electric instruments and rarely any drums. In fact the only up tempo song is the only track with prominent use of the drums. The acoustic guitar takes its place as the rhythm instrument. It is soft acoustic work that is inspired by Russian folk. This is the reason why it is called Russian Album. Boris Grebenshikov took his music abroad but did not get much positive feedback so he returned to his Russian roots and his beloved homeland.

The sound of this music is emotionally powerful. The acoustic work is very good at bringing out feelings. The wide range of instruments helps this, my favourite one being the accordion. This album's songs do not sound too similar and do not sound too different as to surprise the listener. My favourite songs so far are [Elizabeth] and [Burlack], the former for its exceptional guitar work and very cool accordion and flute work, and the latter for its upbeat sound with the drums providing a good backbeat to allow Boris to expand on his guitar playing a bit. Another interesting fact is the last song (I don't have a version with bonus tracks - yet) seems to be a reprise of the first with its predominant oboe playing (I think that's an oboe).

This is a wonderful Russian folk album that should be appealing to everyone. The music is beautiful and mesmerising. 5/5 stars

Thanks to Cygnus X-2 for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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