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Tim Key's Easy USSR

4 Extra Debut. Tim Key explores the sounds that became the soundtrack to the Soviet space race - the music of Vyacheslav Mescherin. From November 2013.

"I remember exactly where I was when I was first exposed to Vyacheslav Mescherin's tunes. I was at a dinner party and the host handed me the sleeve with a glint in her eye. She thought I might quite like it. The insinuation was that none of the other guests would. She was right."

Nine years ago, comedian and poet Tim Key was given a copy of a CD entitled Easy USSR Vol. 2. One car journey to Devon and four consecutive listens later, and he was hooked. The strange yet catchy sounds of Vyacheslav Mescherin's Ensemble of Electronic Musical Instruments have underscored his life and his work ever since. On stage and on the radio, Mescherin's music lies beneath him like a crashmat.

With very little information available about Mescherin, Tim sets out to find out more about the man.
His search takes him from one of the world's leading Theremin players to a Soviet Cosmonaut. Tim discovers that, far from the obscure rarity it is today, in the 1960s and beyond Mescherin's music was a quirky soundtrack to life in the Soviet Union - on radio, TV and even in factories. The futuristic sounds of the electronic instruments he pioneered provided the perfect accompaniment to the space race era. Nearly twenty years after his death, many Russians can hum Mescherin's tunes, yet few know his name.

But what of the rumours that Mescherin's sounds were blasted into space? And will Tim be able to find more of the music he craves?

Producer: Peggy Sutton
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4

30 minutes

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