Trudging to work with boots still soaked from yesterday's downpour in London, i am forced to conclude that summer has abandoned us. Wet faux-leather aside, i love autumn. The misty, melancholy mornings and the perpetual wisp of bonfire smoke in the air find a perfect soundtrack in Soviet rock legends Kino.
Few Russian acts (my beloved Tatu aside) have made much of an impact over here but Kino, and the cult of lead singer Viktor Tsoi, have a strange habit of cropping up in fashionable magazines nearly twenty years after their demise. Formed in the early eighties, their rise to prominence mirrored the collapse of the Union's Communist infrastructure - burning brightest as Perestroika loomed and a generation turned increasingly towards the counter-cultural underground to cement an identity independent from state orthodoxy. Although influenced by Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Joy Division and, improbably, Duran Duran, Kino were always far more than a Soviet copy of prevailing Western trends, drawing heavily on the poetic legacy of Russian bardic singers.
In the grand tradition of doomed youth icons, Tsoi was killed in a road accident in Riga in 1990. His impact was such that state newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda was moved to say:
"Tsoi means more to the young people of our nation than any politician, celebrity or writer. This is because Tsoi never lied and never sold out. He was and remains himself. It's impossible not to believe him... Tsoi is the only rocker who has no difference between his image and his real life, he lived the way he sang... Tsoi is the last hero of rock."
Walk the streets of any Russian city today and there's a fair chance you'll come across the words "Tsoi lives!" scrawled on the walls.