45 by Kino

45 by Kino

Rhys Evans, Writer

Kino. You have no idea who this is, and nor did I until recently. A Russian band formed in the lead singer Viktor Tsoi’s basement in 1981, they managed to achieve international fame even with the Iron Curtain hanging over them. Tsoi managed to find a creative voice in a land where individual creativity was squashed.

Kino’s first album 45 brought the simplicity of Tsoi’s lyrics and a basic yet enjoyable set of instruments to each track. Among some of its best tracks include электричка (Electric Train), a story told about a man not being able to leave a train going the wrong direction. It’s often interpreted as an analogy for the wrong direction the Soviet Union was taking its people, and after release the song was banned from being played in public. Просто хочешь ты знать (You Just Wanna Know) is another good song from 45 about the curiosity of a man and what he does.

One of my absolute favorite Kino songs is not from 45, a song called пачка сигарет (Pack of Cigarettes). It’s about living a fairly hard life, not uncommon for citizens living under the Soviet government, and finding solace in having a pack of cigarettes. “If there’s a pack of cigarettes in my pocket, then the day’s not all that bad,” Tsoi says.