There, in the distance: deconstructing an unknown Soviet author’s poem and finding a forgotten song

Там, вдали, за пределами ветра, выверяют приборы расчёт. Позади миллион километров, а космический лайнер плывёт.

There, in the distance, beyond the wind,
Devices are adjusting calculations.
A million kilometers left behind,
And the space airliner is floating.

I heard this song first in July 2018. A beautiful song from a great, iconic (but forgotten) album, it was not transcribed anywhere on the web. I googled lyrics and I found nothing. Having seen the same in November 2019, I decided to finally fix it.

This is Звезда by Николай Коперник (Nikolay Kopernik – Star)

И трещат телеграфные ленты, суматошно гудят провода. Провожают твой путь континенты, государства, края, города.

And the telegraph tapes are rattling,
You can hear frantic buzz in the wires.
Continents, states, areas, cities
Are walking this way with you.

Sounds like typical socialist realism, doesn’t it? The lyrics are taken from real Soviet poetry. This is not like Soviet poetry, this is just it.

The song is sung by Yuri Orlov. In 1986, he worked as a watchman at a printing office that was just going to publish a compilation of northerners’ poems. The compilation was dedicated to the Russian revolution’s 70th anniversary.

Удивлённо мигают светила, распустила комета хвосты, а тебя несомненности сила увлекает за грани мечты. Мечты… Мечты…

The luminaires are twinkling in surprise,
A comet has spread its tails.
And a force of certitude
Is carrying you beyond the bounds of dream.

Dream…
Dream…

He liked one poem from the book, and then his new wave band Nikolay Kopernik recorded a whole album with lyrics based on those poems.

Maybe you have heard of Vladimir Sorokin, Soviet and Russian writer. In his post-modernist “Norm” and other works, he made fun of the Soviet legacy. He laughed over it, he parodied it, he buried it.

I see here the same post-modernism but inverted. What was dull and trivial on paper sounds exquisite when played by Nikolay Kopernik – with their music, with Yuri Orlov’s vocals, with his saxophone.

Смотрит Солнце, бледнея от зноя, раскаляя не гаснущий мир, как упрямо племя людское покоряет священный Олимп.

Там, вдали, за пределами ветра, выверяют приборы расчёт. Позади миллион километров, а космический лайнер плывёт… Плывёт… Плывёт…

The Sun is gazing, going pale, sweltering,
Scorching a world that never fades,
At the human tribe that is stubbornly
Conquering the sacred Olympus.

There, in the distance, beyond the wind,
Devices are adjusting calculations.
A million kilometers left behind,
And the space airliner is floating.
..

Floating…
Floating…

This release, one of the most remarkable and controversial works in Soviet music, is now forgotten. Bands like Alyans or Technologia are having their moments in the sun again amid the “Russian post-punk revival” hype; Nikolay Kopernik is still a band for diggers.

Yuri Orlov believes he’s an unrecognized genius. It is true.

The cover image for this post has been borrowed from Marina Khrapova on Unsplash.