Konfabulation: Paul von Aphid commemoration

Octo­ber 31st, ‘Kon­fab­u­la­tion’ release at NEN Records is out now. This com­pi­la­tion was con­ceived in Sum­mer 2016. We sug­gest­ed that con­trib­u­tors med­i­tate on the broad theme of mem­o­ry and its aber­ra­tions. But soon the theme got a bit­ter refine­ment. This com­pi­la­tion is ded­i­cat­ed to the mem­o­ry of our friend Paul von Aphid. He passed away in Sep­tem­ber.


Just few months before, Paul glad­ly respond­ed to the invi­ta­tion to make a track for ‘Kon­fab­u­la­tion’. He was unit­ed with many of the con­trib­u­tors not only by musi­cal inter­ests, but also by friend­ship. This is not sur­pris­ing: Paul was a tire­less music fan, an advanced researcher of dark sub­cul­tures, a man of amaz­ing knowl­edge and com­plex feel­ings.

Paul was not only a fine con­nois­seur of oth­ers’ music but also made his own, tru­ly strik­ing and mul­ti-faceted music. His pro­duc­tiv­i­ty seems incred­i­ble. Projects he was involved in num­ber in the tens, but in recent years Paul was focus­ing his efforts on Zex Mod­el. Paul was prepar­ing a track of this par­tic­u­lar project for a NEN Records com­pi­la­tion.

We will hard­ly find out how this track was sup­posed to sound. How­ev­er, music is born to be heard. At the will of the fam­i­ly of the deceased and thanks to their help, we have includ­ed unre­leased mate­r­i­al by Zex Mod­el in ‘Kon­fab­u­la­tion’.

Con­fab­u­la­tion is a hal­lu­ci­na­to­ry mem­o­ry, a mem­o­ry of things that nev­er hap­pened. In the case of an indi­vid­ual, this may indi­cate a men­tal dis­or­der, but col­lec­tive mem­o­ry always has a touch of fic­tion. In a cru­cible of shared mem­o­ries a fact becomes a sen­sa­tion and a man becomes his­to­ry. ‘Kon­fab­u­la­tion’ is a fiery fab­ric we weave togeth­er, play­ing and cry­ing, from lead tech­no beats and heart-break­ing indus­tri­al noise, to explain the past and give mean­ing to the present.

We asked Pasha’s friends and acquain­tances to share their mem­o­ries of him. ‘Kataba­sia’ web­site, where we place their rec­ol­lec­tions, was not unfa­mil­iar to Pasha, always hun­gry for every­thing odd and obscure. He said in an inter­view (the full text is yet to be pub­lished): «I fos­tered the hope that in Saint-Peters­burg I would find the best music scene or inter­est­ing peo­ple. There are many good friends of mine, but you can­not speak of a seri­ous scene, unfor­tu­nate­ly. Still, there are many flam­boy­ant char­ac­ters, such as a math­e­mat­ics pro­fes­sor at the uni­ver­si­ty, devot­ing his spare time to drugs, Dis­cor­dian­ism, and indus­tri­al music. He is one of the most intel­li­gent and inter­est­ing peo­ple I’ve ever met. Speak­ing about the abun­dance of inquir­ing minds in St. Peters­burg and in Ukraine, only they could give rise to com­plete­ly insane resources such as modern-stalking.org.ua or old.katab.asia».

There are some keynotes in these rec­ol­lec­tions – Pasha’s indomitable inquis­i­tive­ness and cre­ative spir­it, lack of recog­ni­tion at home and dash­ing involve­ment in the glob­al con­text, his cor­dial socia­bil­i­ty, and yearn­ing for the scene that would be more than a scene but a real com­mu­ni­ty, a uni­ty. The genre of obit­u­ary does not require a moral, but per­haps this is the case when I should not stop short: if Pasha’s life can teach us all a les­son, this is the les­son of ulti­mate non-indif­fer­ence.

Ivan Napreenko, NEN Records

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«My friend, remem­ber­ing Paul, told me a won­der­ful sto­ry. Back in 2010, he was a musi­cian, too, and com­plained to Paul that record­ing an album is no pic­nic. The reac­tion was Paul’s puz­zle­ment and a phrase about his thir­ty-fourth release, which was met with even more puz­zle­ment.

Pasha was zeal­ous for music. His knowl­edge was tru­ly ency­clo­pe­dic, and I often teased him – a cou­ple of months ago was the last time – that he did not real­ly lis­ten to all those bands, only read about them and remem­bered. Every time, of course, I was wrong.  

By 2016, the num­ber of his releas­es increased, and I am proud to say that I con­tributed to this, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a rather kooky duet Mod­ern Howl. When it was over, Pasha switched to his new project Zex Mod­el, which became his swan song. By this name and under the aegis of the Desire Records label he became renowned, and now we receive kind words from all over the world.

The world lost a musi­cian, some­one lost a son, some­one lost a love, and I lost a friend. I hope the mem­o­ries of the best things we shared will not fade or change over time. Rest in peace, Paul

S.Wulf – Mod­ern Howl

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One thing that always struck me about Paul was his pas­sion. He would write me any­time he found some new album he loved, share tracks he was work­ing on, or just talk to me about what­ev­er he was think­ing of at the time, whether it was the plea­sures of per­form­ing music, spir­i­tu­al iconog­ra­phy, a piece of lit­er­a­ture that was fas­ci­nat­ing him or a ran­dom meme that had caught his eye. He con­stant­ly hun­gered for the new and the obscure, and that hunger shone through in his music; his kind­ness and inquis­i­tive­ness made him shine in per­son. I hope, wher­ev­er his con­scious­ness is now, that he’s found the peace that elud­ed him.

Daniel Jones – UnRe­al


For me, Pasha appeared from nowhere, Pasha plot­ted a cer­tain vec­tor that brought me where I am now. Pasha inspired me to take steps I would not have tak­en, were it not for his advice. I always felt that he was full of ideas, in con­stant motion, in search for him­self, for sounds, states, and the truth. Our joint project was a jour­ney, and I am sure that Pasha just went on anoth­er one, so we will meet once on some far-out plan­et.

Igor Shapran­skiy – Pale Kings, Сруб, Brandy Kills

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Now I real­ize how sel­dom we’ve talked with Pasha, not in the slight­est as much I would have liked. I do not even remem­ber exact­ly the cir­cum­stances of how we met. Appar­ent­ly, this was the debut show of my project at Indus­tri­al Night par­ty back in 2010 in Kalin­ingrad. Pasha also per­formed there, if I’m not mis­tak­en, in 3 projects at once: Par­fume Jill Jar­ry, Scrap­ing Lee, and EL’A’RRY. Their music was very dif­fer­ent from what sound­ed there that night. All oth­er par­tic­i­pants can some­how be attrib­uted to exper­i­men­tal elec­tron­ics and elec­tro-indus­tri­al. Paul’s projects resem­bled Ein­stürzende Neubaut­en, with much more noise and per­for­mance ele­ments. Pasha was play­ing the gui­tar.

I was imme­di­ate­ly hooked up with how deep he was into music and how mul­ti-faceted his musi­cal inter­ests were. I could not find any oth­er per­son so musi­cal­ly diverse. Talk­ing to him was always warm and inter­est­ing. We could dis­cuss almost any­thing, although the music, of course, was the main sub­ject.

Already at that time I was impressed with the num­ber of Pasha’s projects, in 2011 alone there were more than 70, in com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent styles. I remem­ber the only gig his Mod­ern Howl duo gave, it was cool and atmos­pher­ic. I remem­ber Pasha shar­ing his joy that his new project Zex Mod­el found its audi­ence. We dis­cussed a joint con­cert, but we nev­er found time to make it up.

Pasha nev­er man­aged to play a solo per­for­mance in his native Kalin­ingrad, only a DJ set. It hap­pened two weeks pri­or to the first Zex Mod­el show in Kalin­ingrad… The last time I talked to Pasha by phone, he called to wish me hap­py birth­day. We talked long and hearti­ly, he was hap­py and excit­ed about the upcom­ing show…

The mem­o­ry of Pasha will stay with me for­ev­er – through our con­ver­sa­tions and Pasha’s music, in and by which he lived, express­ing and reveal­ing his true self. Thank you, Pasha.

Anton Chirtsov, First Rebirth

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How long we’ve been acquaint­ed? For six or sev­en years. Well, it does not mat­ter. It start­ed by net-mes­sag­ing – we’ve talked on Coil and Skin­ny Pup­py, ado­rat­ing those acts from dif­fer­ent points of view. I showed Pasha the ide­o­log­i­cal aspects, and he, as a true Cre­ator, showed me the musi­cal ones. Then we briefly met at the Scorn gig in Moscow briefly. Then at PTV3 at the incred­i­ble SKIF fes­ti­val. So, two face-to-face meet­ings, and that’s it…

We were con­stant­ly shar­ing some­thing – he was giv­ing me his ideas and insights, I was try­ing to give what I could. When I was final­iz­ing my trans­la­tion of Ballard’s ‘The Atroc­i­ty Exhi­bi­tion’ we con­ceived an idea of the mul­ti­me­dia ver­sion of the book. But the things turned out as they did. A month before this hap­pened he asked me how I coped with unlucky streaks. I’ve uttered some­thing, some words of sup­port, then added that I’m not expe­ri­enced in it. We’ve agreed to meet again… We’ll meet where our favorites dwell, Coil, Bal­lard, Dwayne of Pup­pies, who has more in com­mon with you than one could wish.

I remem­ber you, my friend and col­league. See you lat­er. Mean­while, take your time play­ing music with THEM. Let all of you have peace and bliss.

Alex Ram Ibso­rath

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The loss of Paul von Aphid Pasha is a huge tragedy for music. He was not only very intel­li­gent and very tal­ent­ed, but also high­ly knowl­edge­able about music and extreme­ly moti­vat­ed to always be cre­at­ing and push­ing for­ward. Paul was also just a down­right good per­son and of all things a good friend. He con­nect­ed with and was loved and respect­ed by many peo­ple across the world. We could talk about music and cul­ture for long peri­ods of time. He is one of those peo­ple that I felt real­ly got it. I wish we had fin­ished the Zoa Zoa project we start­ed sev­er­al years ago but Zex Mod­el was doing so well that we nev­er got back to the project.

Paul’s cre­ative­ness did­n’t stop at just mak­ing music. He also want­ed to doc­u­ment it and write about it. March 31st of last year he wrote, «do you think i should write the book about witch house scene – like a lex­i­con dev­il – book of inter­views. or like amer­i­can hard­core but bet­ter. im think­ing a lot about that in few past weeks» What a won­der­ful book that would have been.

One of the last con­ver­sa­tions we had was him mes­sag­ing because he was hop­ing to open for Youth Code in Berlin. He was ner­vous and excit­ed at the pos­si­bil­i­ty of the show. 2 weeks lat­er every­thing was con­firmed and he was get­ting his visa that day. I was so hap­py for him.

Michael Textbeak, TXTBK’s CHVяCH XV BяXK3N 7ANGvAG3 Radio, BATH

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Inter­net friend­ship is usu­al­ly based on a shared obses­sion: Indi­an movies, Hun­gar­i­an folk music, Sovi­et trains. Vir­tu­al­ly any­thing can serve as a social glue. Usu­al­ly. In Pasha’s case, I find it dif­fi­cult to find this shared obses­sion, apart from our pas­sion for Al Jourgensen’s projects, but these are the rare phe­nom­e­na that do not leave you indif­fer­ent. Pasha was mad­ly pas­sion­ate about the things that, at best, under­whelmed me: rare ani­mé, hys­ter­i­cal NWOBM, Skin­ny Pup­py, Wic­ca and oth­er bla­tant occultism. This, how­ev­er, does not mat­ter at all: you don’t have to be a mem­ber of a sect to feel cor­dial toward its adher­ents.

One Nobel lau­re­ate (or his speech­writer) said that our odd­i­ties are what makes us human, and he nailed it. This is true not only for sep­a­rate indi­vid­u­als, but for the entire human­i­ty as well: our exis­tence is made worth­while by such out­ra­geous heretics, at odds with any­thing that is going on, pas­sion­ate about weird shit of all sorts, but chan­nel­ing this pas­sion into pow­er­ful and unique art. Rus­sia has a rich his­to­ry of such alien­ation from the mun­dane, and we can eas­i­ly draw a par­al­lel between the khlyst sect, known for its ecsta­t­ic self-tor­ture rit­u­als, and the under­ground move­ment of the 2000s.

Kalin­ingrad, with its sta­tus of a ter­ri­to­r­i­al enclave, was per­fect for Pasha’s activ­i­ty – he was always on the oth­er side of any bor­der. Of all per­son­al­i­ties of the local under­ground, he was arguably the most fer­vent and devot­ed to music. Pasha was sen­si­tive about the lack of com­mu­ni­ty here, and this should be an impor­tant warn­ing sig­nal: the ‘unof­fi­cial art’ needs not a sub­cul­ture, but a com­mu­ni­ty of mutu­al aid, psy­cho­log­i­cal and friend­ly sup­port because we have more than enough DIY. Mutu­al aid is what we lack.

Felix San­dalov, Krot

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Part of the pro­ceeds will be trans­ferred to the fam­i­ly of the deceased.


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