Nautilus Pompilius – Russian rock born in USSR

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The Soviet and later Russian rock band Nautilus Pompilius (“Наутилус Помпилиус”) broke all records of fame in the Soviet Union. The peak of their popularity fell on the second half of the 1980s and mid-1990s.

The band was founded in 1982 by students of the Sverdlovsk Architectural Institute Vyacheslav Butusov and Dmitry Umetsky. The debut album “Pereezd” (Moving) recorded under the noticeable influence of “Led Zeppelin” was released in 1983.

Nautilus Pompilius – Russian rock born in USSR
Source: Wikipedia

In the mid-1980s, starting with the album “Nevidimka” (Invisible), the style of their music has changed. The musicians got acquainted with the work of Leningrad rock-bands “Kino” and “Aquarium”. Their music started resembling such trends as alternative rock, postpunk, gothic, art, glam and even folk-rock.

Song “Flying Frigate” from the album “Pereezd”, version for the movie “Brat” (Brother) with Nastya Poleva, 1997

Song “The last letter” from the album “Nevidimka” (the video is not official)

In 1986, after the release of the album “Razluka” (Separation), “Nautilus Pompilius” caught their first wave of popularity. Their appearance at that time was also quite special: the military uniform repainted into black and the makeup that highlights the eyes.

In 1986-1988 the band started using saxophone which brought their sound closer to pop music and therefore was critically perceived by the public.

The professional, topical texts of Ilya Kormiltsev, written for the band from 1986 to 1997, and the unique charisma of the frontman Butusov played a major role in the take-off of the band.

Song “This music will be eternal” from the album “Razluka”

Song “Chained by one chain” from the album “Razluka”, lyrics by Ilya Kormiltsev (the video is not official)

Song “Kazanova” from the album “Razluka”, lyrics by Ilya Kormiltsev

The year 1988 was the peak of Nautilus popularity, they actively toured over USSR and in Finland. At the same time, the album “Knyaz’ Tishiny” (The Prince of Silence) which included both early hits and new songs was released.

Constant touring, the gradually emerging domestic show business that the musicians had to deal with, and the commercial success of the team stirred problems and quarrels among its members. The composition of the band changed many times. Soon, one of the founders, Dmitry Umetsky, has left the band. Vyacheslav Butusov, tired of trying to combine “Nautilus” and show business, dismissed the team in 1988.

Russian Pod 101

Song “I want to be with you” from the album “Knyaz’ Tishiny”

In 1989, Butusov and Umetsky renewed their relations and even created a new album, “A Man without a Name”. But the disagreements have not gone away, and the short-term reunion ended in a final break. The album appeared on the shelves of music stores only in 1995.

Song “Quiet games” from the album “A Man without a Name”

In 1990, the “Nautilus” was revived with a new sound of hard guitar and complex rhythms. “Nautilus” became unrecognizable, only Kormiltsev’s lyrics and Butusov’s voice remained unchanged. The topics of the songs have changed as well: burning social issues were replaced by philosophical and even religious motives. For example, the song “Walks on Water”, which has become a hit, tells about the Apostle Andrew and his Teacher; the story, however, differs from the canonical Bible narrative.

Song “Walks on Water”, official clip

From 1990 to 1992 the band released a few albums and a disc dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the band. However, quarrels started in the band again, and a few members left it. The new album “Titanic”, which became the most successful album from a commercial point of view, was recorded with the help of one of the founders of the band “Agatha Christie” Vadim Samoilov.

Song “Tutankhamun” from the album “Titanic”

Song “Titanic” from the album “Titanic”

Song “Wretch and Angel” from the album “Titanic”

The next album, “Wings”, is considered to be unsuccessful, and the musicians themselves admitted that it was created with difficulty. However, after the release of the movie of Alexander Balabanov “Brother”, the composition “Wings” and other songs of Nautilus have caught another wave of popularity.

Last albums in the biography of “Nautilus Pompilius” were “Yablokitai” and “Atlantis”. Boris Grebenshchikov (“Aquavarium”) and Bill Nelson participated in the recording of “Yablokitai”. The “Atlantis” included a collection of compositions that were not included in other albums for some reason.

Song “Gentle Vampire” with Boris Grebenshchikov, the album “Yabloktyai”

The critics did not receive well the album “Yabloktyai”. They noticed that Butusov is experimenting with sound and trying to find himself again, but all the songs merge into a single sound background and the lyrics make very little or no sense.

That year Butusov decided that the framework of the Nautilus was too small for him and dismissed the band. The concert “The Last Voyage” and the farewell tour in 1997 put an end to the history of the group.

Later the band reunited a few times to participate in the rock-festivals.

Song “Beast” from the album “Titanic”, scenes from the movie “Brother”

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