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Esthetic Education

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When attitudinizing Ukrainian rockers Aesthetic Education (then spelled "Esthetic Education") hit the scene in 2004, with Brit-pop beats, misplaced melodies, and a contemptuous persona, they became darlings of the media, hailed as the new intelligent voice of post-Soviet rock music. Since then, they have been Ukraine's perennial fish out of water, self-consciously highbrow, conceptual, and "European." Aesthetic Education are a rock group with an international cast of musicians, including two former members of the successful Ukrainian ensemble Okean Elzi, Yuriy Hustochka (bass guitar) and Dimitriy Shurov (keyboards). They are joined by Belgian director, photographer, and eye candy Louis Franck (vocals) and Tolya Shmargun (drums).

In December of 2004 the group debuted with the album Face Reading and toured in Europe. A lesson in self-control, or the lack thereof, the album dabbled in numerous styles and genres including psychedelia, tango, ethnic recordings, Russian chanson, and rock ballads, seasoned with tasty soundbites like the noise from a restaurant, children's poetry, circus drums, and much more. The acoustical bazaar that resulted was promising — though scattered — evidence of the bandmembers' busy schedules and numerous other projects. It wasn't until the fall of 2005 that one of their more accessible tracks, "Leave Us Alone/Machine," joined the hit parades of Ukraine and Russia. They toured widely in Ukraine, filling large venues and releasing a new single, "Vasiliv Vasiltsiv," the following summer. A music video for the track was directed by the controversial Ukrainian artist Ilya Chichkan. Their compositions were included in a number of international film projects.

In 2007 Aesthetic Education finished a new album, recorded at London's Brick Lane Studio. Rumors began to fly that the group was breaking up, since Franck had taken up residence in London and Shurov had been spotted recording in Zemfira's studio, and also touring as part of her band. But nonetheless, in the spring the group released Werewolf, a much more stylistically consistent album that showed off the group's single artistic mission. Shurov experimented with three types of keyboard accompaniment (piano, synth, and harmonium) as well as vibraphone. The tracks — which despite budding nationalism on the home front are sung in English, with a tasteful spattering of French — alternate in mood between histrionic and unexpectedly romantic. Since the release, the group has toured widely with Zemfira and played at a number of international music festivals. In 2008, ever au courant with international trends, the group traveled to India to conceptualize material for a new album.

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Esthetic Education


2004, Kiev, Ukraine

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