One of the low-key highlights of Tallinn Music Week 2019 was ducking into the Balti Jaam food market for some noodles and being drawn to the left-field analogue synth-pop wafting down from the third floor. Russian producer and singer Chikiss’s lunchtime set was one of those fluky festival moments that stick with you way longer than the hypebeast acts in the packed halls — this one witnessed by hardcore TMW box-tickers and locals tucking into pad Thai bowls and pizza slices.
Chikiss’ 2017 album New Season was inspired by losing her voice for a month, and adapting to the slow recovery by “exploring a more muted and shadowy form of electronic song-craft using only breath and synthesisers”. This is the shadowy form I’d picked up in Tallinn, although she’d thankfully got her spectral pop voice back at that stage.
Two years later, and her Bandcamp page has been sparse enough, with the only signs of life the bleak coldwave single ‘Волчья’ (a collaboration under her own name Galina Ozeran with Sonya Tarasova) and the pulsing pop of the lockdown single ‘Будет всё хорошо’ (“Everything Is Gonna Be Alright).
Her new single — a collaboration with Andrei ‘OID’ Antonets — has just appeared, though, and it’s a dreamy synth gem — a Russian adaptation of Alba’s gloriously OTT 1985 Italo Disco Hit ‘Only Music Survives’. The pair take the OTT flamboyant shine off the original but feed into the melancholy and the longing. There’s always a few tears behind even the shiniest disco ball.