Черная речка, translated as Black River, is a Russian indie-rock and post-punk band formed in Kirov in 2013. The band members started playing together in the band Debauch, conceived as a garage punk project in the style of Hives or Eagles of Death Metal. However, according to frontman Igor Rysev, the band lacked musical experience, and they had a close to zero level of proficiency with their instruments. Instead of garage punk, we got just punk – dirty, crooked, and primitive. But that didn’t stop them. Debauch consisted of four people: Igor Rysev – bass, Zhenya Devyatyarov – guitar, Denis Ivonin – drums, Evgeny (Mik) Ovcharenko – vocals. A year later, after the band’s first major tour in 2013, the guys decided to take on something more serious. Zhenya offered to play post-punk, assuring the rest that the genre was about to become popular. After the first few rehearsals, Igor came up with a name for the group – “Black River”. The roles in it were slightly redistributed: Igor, as in Debauch, was responsible for composing music, but now he played the guitar, Zhenya was responsible for the bass, Mick remained on vocals, but added a second guitar; and Denis, as before, was on drums. Soon after, when two songs were already written, Mick said that he was forced to leave the group in connection with moving to St. Petersburg. Igor took responsibility for the vocal parts. From that moment on, the core synergy of the band was established: Igor Rysev – vocals, guitar, Evgeny Devyatyarov – bass, Denis Ivonin – drums.
The group decided to sing in Russian, and that became key. From that moment on, capacious, figurative texts, for which Igor is responsible, were the hallmark of the “Black River”. In a short time, the guys prepare material for the first album, managing to go on a mini-tour without a single recording. The recording of the first album, Side A, took place live at the Sarcophagus Studio owned by Pavel Chernyadiev (a/k/a Pavel Myatny, who was the band’s producer until 2018). The album came out as two EPs. The release of “Side A” took place on July 3, 2014, the second part “Side B” was posted online on September 3 of the same year. The album received a lot of positive reviews from listeners not only from Russia, but also from America, including the Californian cassette blog Terminal Escape and the oldest punk-zine of the New World Maximumrocknroll. The group became recognizable, was noted by the cult Russian music critic Artemy Troitsky, received invitations to play concerts from other cities, and also enlisted the support of the independent Siyanie label.
In the fall of 2014, the group presented the album “Side A / Side B” live in Moscow and Tula. Upon returning home, the guys are recording an EP called Holiday, which includes one of their most recognizable songs, “Drinks”. At the same time, the band embarked on a more extensive and wide-reaching tour, hitting eight cities in the European parts of Russia and Belarus in early 2015. This cemented the status of the group as one of the most visible phenomena of the independent Russian post-punk scene. After the release of Prazdnik (Holiday), the group continued to give successful concerts at home and in the capitals, and focused on writing new material. A new album, also meant to be released in two parts, was then recorded. The first included covers of five Russian-speaking bands of the late 80s and early 90s. It was dubbed Aliens and was released on February 16, 2016. The release, much to the surprise of the musicians, was very warmly received by Russian audiences. Thanks to the work on this project, not only a new generation of listeners was able to get an idea of the music of that era, but the members of “Black River” themselves learned a lot about the groups, the successors of which they themselves are.
The second part of the new album, Own, consisted of original compositions and was released on July 4, 2016. In this recording, the group deliberately focused on vocals as an important part of the structure of their songs. Own won the greatest love of the audience and significantly expanded the reach of the group. Zhenya and Igor, meanwhile, after the release were preparing to move to St. Petersburg and, after the concerts there, made the new city their home. The group began to live in two cities, which did not prevent it from periodically performing in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Minsk and Kirov, and in May 2017 to go back on tour. Dubbed the “Black River and Pavel Myatny go to the Sea Tour,” the band hit 13 cities in the European, southern part of Russia , Belarus and Ukraine. After a successful tour and the final concert in their hometown, Zhenya and Igor returned to St. Petersburg, while Den remained in Kirov. In the summer of the same year, the group recorded the single “More”, which is included in the international split “For Vacation!”, the name of which is taken from a festival of the same name, which takes place every autumn in Minsk.
Living now in two separate cities, the band coped with the pressure of distance, and on September 25, 2018, they released their most conceptual album, In This Northern, Snowy, Cold Land. The 5-song EP was based on the band’s touring experience, which took them to many parts of snowy, cold Russia.
“One of the most interesting and distinctive bands of the post-punk scene. Instead of going into the usual cold and exalted sound or flirting with a glamorous synthpop, they create, as a rule, laconic songs that firmly sink into the mind. Among the main advantages of the group are subtle melody and sincere, carefully selected lyrics … “, write one of the most prominent magazines about the cultural life of Russia, Afisha, about the new recordings.
Throughout 2019, Black River worked on new material. Interaction with a drummer located 1,500 kilometers away was a challenge: Igor, in St. Petersburg, records bass and guitar with a metronome, sends a demo to Denis – he listens to it in Kirov and prepares his part. So, having never played new songs in joint rehearsals, the group, miraculously, recorded an album. It was released on October 24, 2019 and was named O. The mini-album was highly appreciated by fellow musicians, listeners and music media, in particular. One of the largest magazines in Russia specializing in culture, The Village, interviewed the band about their new work and history as a result of the release of O.
Since 2000, Black River has focused on concert activities, but the pandemic had its own plans. During a time without live performances, Igor has been writing new songs for a full-length album, as well as coordinating a large project of collaborative songs with the most representative collectives of the domestic and foreign art rock and post-punk scenes. At the moment, joint songs with Ploho and Bicycle For Afghanistan have already been released.
2021 saw the band enter into a worldwide record deal with Toronto-based Artoffact Records, already known for its taste in Russian musicians, having released Ploho and Kauan to the world. The band’s back catalogue is now available through Artoffact’s Bandcamp. Meanwhile, Denis moved to St. Petersburg in the summer of 2021, and from that moment on, the group reunited for rehearsals and is in the studio working on a new record, which will be released in 2022 on Artoffact.