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Irrita: Engineering The Music

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Irrita, from Saint-Petersburg, Russia, are all about low-pitch experiments, challenging sound design and good old analogue synth. Created by a true sound geek, Irrita bring the traditions of djent to the northern Russian capital.

One Man Doing The Work Of Ten

Though you can find a whole list of people involved in the band’s LP, including well-known characters from the Russian heavy scene, there is one mastermind behind Irrita: Kirill Bobkin, who manages guitars, bass, synths/programming, mixing, and mastering, and is also the creator and main engineer of the band.

Bobkin seems more like a techie than an artist. That feeling intensifies with the fact that he once was an intern at The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and now works as a QA engineer. Truly unaware of how to promote his project and himself, he managed to gather a small but engaged base of listeners and win the March Metal Madness Tournament on Louder.me.

His way of communicating with his audience totally fits his geeky image. He either shares Guitar Pro tabs and playthrough videos of his tracks, makes reviews on analogue synths and VSTi’s, or simply reminds his audience that the project is still alive while working hard on new records.

And let’s just say that when he works, he does so painstakingly. So it’s no wonder that for more than ten years of Irrita’s existence the band has only released two records, an EP in 2014 with tracks from 2009-2011 and a full LP in 2018, which took three years to create.

That’s the thing about Bobkin’s approach. He’s ready to experiment and poke around the details until everything sounds just right.

They Get Groupies, We Get Nerds

Sure, some will argue about djent’s right to be called a sub-genre or even a genre considering it’s basically a technique. Post-metal band Rosetta made quite a point saying, “Maybe we should start calling doom metal DUNNN.” Still, it managed to form a community of like-minded guitar geeks like Kirill Bobkin himself. As the inventor of the term, Misha Mansoor once said, “I’d say that 95% of people who turn up to our shows are bedroom musicians or gear nerds like me. Other bands get groupies; we get guys who want to know what string gauges I use or what programs I record with.” At the end of it, isn’t every existing genre just a specific way to play a specific instrument?

Metal In Retrograde

Bobkin’s meticulousness is not only the way he is, but it’s his way of fighting mediocrity. Describing Irrita’s LP Sequences of the Void, he holds as an example the bands from the ’70s. “Back in the day, musicians used to experiment with analog units such as synths, compressors and various effects trying to find unique and unexpected sounds, whereas in the digital present, pre-produced patches and presets of popular virtual instruments have become handier,” he says. “On Sequences of the Void, we decided to mimic an approach from the ’70s: making hard investments on analog gear. And it worked! As we were tweaking a synth or some other unit trying to find some interesting sound, and as we came up with one, it was almost impossible to 100% recreate it the next day because of the analog nature of the unit.” That’s also one of the perks of a self-sufficient DIY musician — you can afford to take all the time that you need to effect the desired result.

That result can come in the form of perfect sound, a tournament win, or the comment “For me, it’s better than Meshuggah,” Either way, you do you, Kirill.

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