Agatha Christie (Russian: Агата Кристи, often transliterated as Agata Kristi) were a Russian Post-punk/gothic rock band led by brothers Vadim and Gleb Samoylov, formed in Sverdlovsk in late 1987. It was named after the British detective writer Agatha Christie. According to Gleb Samoylov, the band's main tendencies were based on 1970s art-rock and rock'n'roll, yet the lyrics represented early 1980s punk rock decadence movement. The band knew underground prominence during the fall of the Soviet Union, however mainstream popularity came only during the 1990s, with best recorded albums being Pozornaya zvezda ("The Shameful Star") in 1993 and Opium in 1995. Following the dramatic death of Aleksandr Kozlov in 2001, the band decreased recording material and went on hiatus by mid-2004. During 2008 Samoylov made an effort of reuniting the members (two of who went on to create solo projects) and made the final tour around the country. The material served as ground for their last album titled Epilogue. Their last concert played in their hometown of Ekaterinburg, on September 27, 2010, at the end of which Samoylov stepped forward and took three minutes to thank the fans for 22 years of support. The song Ya budu tam ("I Will Be There") then concluded Agata Kristi's existence.
Though many notable Russian bands such as Nautilus Pompilius, Akvarium and Kino made prominence of early punk-rock movement in the late Soviet Russian scene, Agata Kristi are known as the only pioneers to have elaborated their own style upon this theme and brought it into the 1990s and 2000s Russian punk-rock scene.
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They've released several tape albums: Esli (If), Svet (Light), Golos (Voice) while Vadim was stud. In the year 1988, when Vadim finished his studies they've changed the name of the band to Agatha Christie after English detective writer Agatha Christie. The name was chosen by Aleksandr Kozlov, because of his initial's co-incidence to Agatha Christie's ("Александр Козлов"; "Агата Кристи"). Then, Vadim said that the name reflects the band's sound style, a mysterious, eccentric, and at times sadistically spooky mix of glam, goth rock, and techno-like electronics.
The founders of the band - Vadim Samoylov (born in Sverdlovsk, October 3, 1964), Aleksandr Kozlov (born in Asbest, September 25, 1961- died Moscow, March 1, 2001 ) and Petr Mai—were schoolmates, they played together in a school band. In 1985 they (together with Vadim's younger brother Gleb Samoylov, who was born in Asbest, August 4, 1970) created a music band named ВИА РТФ УПИ (which is an acronym for: Vocal-Instrumental Ensemble of the Radioengineering Faculty of Ural Polytechnical Institute). The original band comprises:
- Gleb Samoylov (Глеб Самойлов) — vocals, guitar, bass, lyrics, adaptation, keyboard
- Vadim Samoylov (Вадим Самойлов) — vocals, guitar, bass, lyrics, adaptation, keyboard
- Pyotr Mai (Пётр Май) — drums, percussion
- Aleksandr Kozlov (Александр Козлов) — keyboard, composer/lyrics (now deceased)
The official birthday of Agatha Christie is February 20, 1988, the day of their first concert and the release of the first official album Vtoroy front (Second Front). In 1988-1989 Agatha Christie played at several rock festivals and was noticed. At this time Peter Mai left the band and was replaced by Albert Potapkin. Still, two more albums to follow — Kovarstvo i lyubov (Craft and Love) and Dekadans (Decadence) — seemed overly theatrical and pompous. There were also some internal tensions in the band. Albert Potapkin left and was replaced by Andrey Kotov (born in Sverdlovsk, April 3, 1963). After the release of Decadance, band changes the style from pompeous suits to simple jeans and jackets.
In 1993 the band released a much more focused and balanced album Pozornaya zvezda (Shameful Star), inclusive a great hit named "Kak na Voine" (Like on War), which marked a shift from the guitar-driven glam rock of the previous albums to synth-based post-punk with a more subdued vocal delivery. Also, that year band
The next album Opium enjoyed considerable success. Agatha Christie quickly became a popular act. Three songs from Opium, "Chyornaya Luna" (Black Moon), "Skazochnaya taiga" (Fairy Taiga) and "Opium dlya nikogo" (Opium for Nobody), became hits. The next albums, Uragan (Hurricane) and Chudesa (Miracles), were gloomy, even depressive, and loaded with electronics, a move which was not welcomed by many of the band's fans. A 2000 Mein Kaif? (a word-play derived from Mein Kampf and the Russian word "Kaif", meaning 'bliss') featured sound no less gloomy and bleak than its predecessors, but received critical praise because of its unorthodox composition and song structures. In 2001 the founding keyboardist Aleksandr Kozlov died, which is said to be the reason for prolonged creative stagnation. It was only in 2004 that the Samoylovs released the next album, Triller. Chast 1 (Thriller. Part 1). Despite a significant stylistic deviation from the band's trademark murky electronic sound, this lean, heavier, hard rock-infused album was generally well received by both listeners and critics. Several songs from this album made to the top of charts in Russia. In 2008 Andrey Kotov left the band, but soon the Samoylovs recruited two new musicians: Dmitry "Snake" Khakimov (drums) and Konstantin Bekrev (keyboards and bass-guitar). Several days before the band's 21st anniversary in February 2009 the band announced that they will finish their career as Agatha Christie with the final album Epilogue which was released in 2010.
While being less prolific in the 2000s, Agatha Christie have proved to be quite long-lasting a project. Over their history, the band explored a variety of styles, from the synth-pop of Depeche Mode and Freddie Mercury's extravaganza to the gloomy post-punk of The Cure and The Damned. Unlike the majority of the Russian rock scene, which historically adhered to the guitar-driven rock, Agatha Christie embraced a hefty share of synthesizer rhythms and drums, which, together with the characteristic vocals switching from suggestive whisper to hysterical shrieks, makes their style easily recognizable. Agatha Christie won the Grand-Prix of the festival of young European bands Open du Rock (France, 1991), World Music Award as the most popular Russian music band (Monte-Carlo, 1997), and four national "Овация (Ovation)" prizes.
Style of music
In many ways on the formation of the current style of the band has influenced album Disintegration of the British band The Cure. The first acquaintance with their music happened in 1989, when coming back from Glasgow, from appearances at the festival of the Soviet rock members of Agatha brought this record. Later, their then manager offered to begin to develop in this direction.
|Original title||Transliterated Title||Translation||Year of release|
|Второй фронт||Vtoroy front||Second Front||1988|
|Коварство и любовь||Kovarstvo i lyubov'||Intrigue and Love||1989|
|Позорная звезда||Pozornaya zvezda||Shameful Star||1993|
|Пять лет Live**||Pyat' let Live||Five Years Live||1994|
|Heroin 0 Remixed*||Heroin 0 Remixed||Heroin 0 Remixed||1996|
|10 лет жизни**||10 let zhizni||10 Years of Life||1998|
|Два корабля Remixed 2*||Dva korablya Remixed 2||Two Ships Remixed 2||1998|
|Максисингл № 1 Секрет*||Maxisingl № 1 Sekret||Maxisingle № 1 Secret||2000|
|Майн Кайф?||Mein Kaif?||Mein Bliss? (pun on Mein Kampf)||2000|
|Максисингл № 2 Выпить море*||Maxisingl № 2 Vypit' more||Maxisingle № 2 Drink the Sea||2000|
|Максисингл № 3 Ein Zwei Drei Waltz*||Maxisingl № 3 Ein Zwei Drei Waltz||Maxisingle № 3 Ein Zwei Drei Waltz||2001|
|Триллер. Часть 1||Triller. Chast' 1||Thriller. Part 1||2004|
- (*) collection of singles/remixes
- (**) concert recording