Alexander Ponomarev Yuri Hatenko Constantine Bityukov Vladimir Bovykin

Z1Magadan was akin to a waiting room. Almost everyone was anticipating something: a pension, a vacation, an end of a prison term, future glory, all trying to become somebody. People waited for material wellbeing, sun, summer, warmth, green trees and hot sand beaches of the Black Sea. They waited with apprehension, looking eastward over their shoulders in the direction of smug patrons of the Marchekan resort. Only those who understood all there is to understand about this life and having found refuge at the 23rd kilometer - they expected nothing. Nothing good, nothing bad. At least, their frozen faces with fearful eyes displayed no expression of expectations. But, overall and altogether people were not dejected. Huge numbers of low bars and restaurants offering live music, with hordes of musicians vying to squeeze as many clubs and diners as possible, playing at weddings, banquets and cultural events, all of them breast-fed by the local booze factory, visibly livened the oppressive atmosphere of anticipation, appearing to resemble some kind of whistling past a graveyard ritual. The nearest church was a couple of thousand kilometers away, and any single divine spark would momentarily flash before melting away, squashed by an omnipresent gloom of pagan socialism. In one word - thirst. That is the style of Magadan people's lives of the latter 1990's that remained engrained in my memory. I recall a randomly dropped phrase: "Eastern Syndrome" is not a band. It is a diagnosis." How accurate this observation may be is for you to judge...

The first meeting of participants of this narration took place in 1983 against the background of potato fields, where we, as freshmen of a music college, were sent to aid the toilers of the countryside. At the time I was enrolled in the same group in the orchestra department along with future Eastern Syndrome members
Ponomaryev, Khatenko, Bovykin and Bityukov . I was getting a bit old for school (already 25), but my practical musical abilities required supplemental theoretical knowledge. Bityukov was not a green high school graduate either when he decided to gnaw on the tree of knowledge. In short, there, amidst villages and rural scenery is where we all met. Having merrily spent a week collecting several buckets of potatoes, we returned to college and set about to master the instruments our academic vocations called for. Bovykin was already a clarinet player back in music school and continued accordingly.   Music College Ponomaryev and Khotenko were enrolled into the contrabass branch. I was attempting to enroll as a percussionist but by order of the head of department I was signed on to the brass section and was doomed to utter wild howls in college corridors on a French horn. Progress in my attempts to master this instrument was virtually non-existent, and I frankly disliked the copper contrivance I got stuck with. Bityukov was learning the bassoon for the first time as well and did not endure too long. He told me the instrument was interesting overall and then promptly dropped out. It is a bit of a pity that I did not follow him. Being clandestinely jealous of xylophone players, as I had already played drums for about eleven years, I was forced to blow on the unruly snake for four years, imbuing the hearts of mortals with horrors of an inevitable judgment day. Afterwards I made use of this science only on E.S.'s three songs: "Cockscomb Procession", "Celt" and "Guest". What a stunning benefit after four years of interminable suffering

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