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Lounge Lizard Lairs
By Andrew Langley
Issue 5
April 8 - May 13, 2004

Alexander Antonov
Down Tempo Beat: Kult
The strains of day-to-day life in a sprawling metropolis can sometimes leave you desperately in need of sanctuary. If you’re looking for a haven from the bustle and smoke of the big city, perhaps it’s time to think about visiting one of Moscow’s many chill-out venues.

The local down-tempo music scene offers stressed-out city dwellers numerous weird and wonderful settings to enjoy a variety of soothing sounds. The available styles include trip hop, fusion, drum ‘n’ bass, broken beat, freestyle, funk and jazz.

Venues can be divided into high-end restaurant/club hybrids – such as Dzhusto, Zholtoye More and Goa – and cafe/bar venues like Moskva-Roma, Courvoisier, Bookafe, Piramida, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Kult.

The swanky sushi joints Dzhusto and Zholtoye More have been around for some time and have hosted such acts as Japan’s Pizzicato Five and Italy’s Montefiori Cocktail. Nowadays, you can relax to the sounds of DJs like Dzhusto resident Andrei Panin during the week – but be warned that your bubble of tranquillity may be burst on weekends, when both restaurants tend to crank up the volume and switch to house.

The cafe/bar scene also leans towards house on weekends, but the Monday-to-Thursday period offers the perfect remedy to a hard day at the office. Courvoisier and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie are well-established venues and feature DJs such as the veteran Martin Landers (aka Sergei Tutov), who previously hosted the mid-week Cafe Del Mar parties at Ballantine’s Bar.

On a slightly different musical tack, weeknights at Goa offer diners a more Eastern-inspired selection against the restaurant’s backdrop of Indian serenity. Kult also stands out from the pack, with African- and Brazilian-influenced sounds providing the perfect accompaniment to its ethnic menu and array of exotic cocktails. Sunday nights feature down-tempo sets from popular house DJs like Sanches and Sapunov.

One of the city’s prime easy-listening venues is Moskva-Roma, the little sister of the popular Moskva-Berlin cafe near Belorussky Station. As the name would suggest, Moskva-Roma is Italian-themed – and not just from a culinary point of view. The cafe has forged close links with Italian lounge label Irma Records and regularly welcomes DJs from Italy. In 2002, it even released a CD of bossa nova, jazz and 1960s easy listening.

It’s worth keeping an eye open for live performances by local lounge artists. Groups such as the Second Hand Band, who produced the soundtrack to the recent Russian hit film “Boomer,” Moscow Grooves Institute and Tetris are all well known on the local circuit. One of the best examples of locally produced chill-out sounds is the “Mousson” album, released in 2000 – Russia’s stab at a Cafe Del Mar-esque compilation. The album showcases tracks by Russian artists from as far afield as Novosibirsk.

At the moment, the hottest news on the chill-out scene is the first Russian Lounge DJ Festival, which began on March 30 and runs through to April 10.

So as we bid a not-so-tearful farewell to the long winter months and wait for the city’s summer cafes to start reappearing, why not take time out to soak up some sunshine sounds and feel that stress fade away?

8 Malaya Sukharevskaya Ploshchad (M. Sukharevskaya)
924-8242, 24 hours

8/2 Myasnitskaya Ul. (M. Lubyanka)
504-4031, noon-2am

5 Bolshoi Tolmachyovsky Per., Building 9 (M. Tretyakovskaya)
937-3750, 1pm-2am, Fri. & Sat. 1pm-3am

5 Yauzskaya Ul. (M. Kitai-Gorod / Taganskaya)
917-5706, Mon. & Tue. noon-midnight, Wed. noon-2am, Thu.-Sat. noon-6am, Sun. noon-midnight

13 Sadovaya-Samotyochnaya Ul. (M. Tsvetnoi Bulvar)
200-0356, 11am-2am

52/2 corner of 2nd Brestskaya Ul. and Ploshchad Tverskoi Zastavy (M. Belorusskaya)
251-2282, 24 hours

12 Stoleshnikov Per., Building 2 (M. Chekhovskaya)
229-5702, 24 hours

Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie
24 Ul. Bolshaya Lubyanka (M. Lubyanka)
923-0848, 24 hours

18a Tverskaya Ul. (M. Tverskaya)

Zhyoltoye More
27 Ul. Bolshaya Polyanka (M. Polyanka)
953-9634, noon-1am, Fri. & Sat. noon-2am


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