Music

"I Can't Breathe" - Pussy Riot [YouTube Official Music Video + Lyrics]

Dana De Siena

by Dana De Siena

Published February 18, 2015

CREDITS

 

<blockquote> MUSIC VIDEO:
Concept, directed and produced: Pussy Riot
Director of Photography and editor: Mikhail Vihrov.

MUSIC:
Concept, produced: Pussy Riot
Vocals: Sasha Klokova (Jack Wood), Matt Kulakov (Scofferlane), Richard Hell
Lyrics: Matt Kulakov (Scofferlane)
Monologe of Eric Garner: Richard Hell
Bit: Andrew Wyatt
Piano, Bass: Nick Zinner
Drums: Shahzad Ismaily
</blockquote>

Russian political activists and punk-rock collective Pussy Riot released their first song in English today. The collaborative effort includes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner on bass / piano, Miike Snow's Andrew Wyatt creating electronics, Shazad Ismaily on drums, members from the Russian bands The Jack Wood and Scofferlane, and Richard Hell.

The death of Eric Garner and the repercussions of police brutality are the subject matter of the political video. Garner was assaulted by police after resisting arrest for selling "loosie" cigarettes in the St. George section of Staten Island in July of last year.

The video opens to an empty carton of cigarettes and pans to Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina lying in a ditch. They are both wearing army-style camouflague uniforms with name tags that read the word "HOMO" backwards across it, an allusion to their involvement in LGBTQ civil rights causes. A thumping drum begins to sound, accompanied by a slow drawn out baseline as the faces of the two women come into view. Dirt is thrown onto their faces, distorting their eyes and mouths.

When initially formed, Pussy Riot wore masks as a means of both concealing their identities and retaining an inclusive collective for those who shared the group's ideals. This concept is carried out in the same vein as the "Guerilla Girls," a feminist collective of activists who wear gorilla masks, but who prominently address the visual arts. With several members of Pussy Riot being charged with "hoolaganism" in 2012, they were forced to remove their masks.

Both the song and video take a minimalist approach. The majority of the video focuses on the women as they are buried alive, with the camera mainly focused on their faces. The song itself has little ornamentation, relying on a single baseline to outline the basic three-chord structure of punk rock. The vocal line is simple and somewhat dissonant. When the women are finally buried, punk icon Richard Hell is heard reciting Eric Garner's final words as a burning cigarette comes into view.

Certainly not strangers to police brutality, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, who were beaten and imprisoned by Russian police in 2012, express solidarity with all victims of police brutality, and recognize it as an international problem. "I Can't Breathe" is an artistic and political statement that will make headlines, and one that holds its own musically.

For Pussy Riots's latest music, news, and tour dates, check out their Zumic artist page.

Source: YouTube

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