Specific brand of quixotic weirdness
He seems to have dedicated his life to music alone
– Recent Music Heroes
His talents as a musician really pay off here, creating such a strong and memorable string of electronic pieces, ranging greatly in their instrumentation and style
– Hardcore Gaming 101
Sasha Darko (born Alexander Kibanov) is a Russian experimental musician, multimedia artist, game developer, photographer, director and writer from Ozersk, a city labeled by Vice as “Radioactive City Russia Doesn’t Want You to Know About.”
• Starting his career as a multi-genre musician and performer, since 2007 he had produced 200+ experimental music solo releases using numerous aliases (such as EARTH INCUBATOR, HEADLESS KAMIKAZE and ILLNATHIX), also collaborating with such diverse artists as Kenji Siratori, Hiroshi Hasegawa, GX Jupitter-Larsen, Komissar Hjuler / Mama Baer, Alexei Borisov and TLASILA (Tom Smith + Thurston Moore + Don Fleming). His works were published by underground labels all over the world, from Japan and US to French Polynesia and Columbia, using all possible media formats: cassettes, CDs, CD-Rs, 7″ vinyl records, floppy disks and business cards. Produced in very limited numbers (ranging from 10 to 1000 copies), these releases were as diverse as possible and spawned microgenres which were called “fruity punk” and “post-noise” by the underground press and bloggers.
Then in May 2010 he changed his stage name to Sasha Darko, while Earth Incubator material recorded in 2009 continued getting released, including Split 7″ with Torturing Nurse, “Caturday” CD, “Wastelands” EP cassette, “Untitled” b-card (w/ Corpoparassita), “Unretrofied, Busted, Killed, And Not Buried” cassette, “Untitled” CDr and collaboration work with The Live and Shave in L.A. (a project by Tom Smith which involves many people, including Thurstoon Moore of Sonic Youth, Don Fleming (Hole / Alice Cooper Producer) and Weasel Walter (XBXRX, Behold… The Arctopus) which was released on a 4 x CD compilation “The Grief That Shrieked to Multiply”. After being eight years in development, an album “Sent I November” recorded in collaboration with Russian sludge metal band ВИРЬ was released on CD and cassettes in 2017.
He had released multiple EPs and singles through French label Sirona Records in 2011, then presented an ambient album “Underwater” in 2013. The soundtracks for his own games “Sacred Line Genesis” and “The Last Dogma” were published on his Bandcamp page in 2013-2014.
In June 2018 he was resurrected and came back with the release of GENESIS, an album which introduced “witchdrive” – a new kind of sound, which could be described as a mix of witch house and YM2612 chiptune music. It was praised by people and press, appearing twice on radio show of Mike Textbeak, one of the witch house pioneers. “Weirdtempo”, a collection of 2010-2015 unreleased electronic tracks, was also released the same year.
He then moved to hip-hop scene and released multiple mixtapes and singles, including a conceptual grim neoclassical hip-hop EP “A Field Where I Died“, where every track presented a different life of an album protagonist through a span of ten centuries. In January 2019 he released “Underwater, Part II”, a sequel to “Underwater” (2013), an April Fools mixtape “Farforovaya Ovechka” and EP “INLAND EMPIRE”. In 2020, “Klassoviy Vrag” was released exclusively in the VK group of the YouTube channel Genderfluid Vertosexual.
• Being a videogame developer, he developed five games, but only three of them were released.
The biggest European computer magazine Computer Bild put his debut game Sacred Line (2013) 4th place on the list of “30 Best Free PC Horror Games” and picked it up for distribution on their website and free DVD which comes with the magazine. It was re-released on Steam in 2015.
His second game Sacred Line Genesis was covered by Game Sack, Retro Gamer, IGN, Destructoid, Bloody Disgusting and was recognized as one of the spookiest games on Sega Genesis by Horror Geek Life. It was released on cartridges by Watermelon Corporation in February 2015, being the second professionally produced homebrew Sega Genesis / Mega Drive release after Pier Solar. It was praised as one of a kind game on the system, but criticized for its short length.
His third game, a surreal dark comedy The Last Dogma was released on Steam in 2015 and after getting many patches was praised by Hardcore Gaming 101 and described as a “sort of experience you’re not likely to forget anytime soon“.
• He wrote and directed three music videos (“LYRICS DON’T MEAN ANYTHING”, “ALL 4 ELEMENTS” and “MOU$TACHE BU$$INE$$”), all of them featuring his own music. His debut short horror movie “Zero Messages Left” starring Russian model Eva Matsevich was released on YouTube in 2020.
• As a photographer, he released multiple photosets and single photos, some of which were published by outlets like Mob Journal and Komsomolskaya Pravda. His debut environment-focused photoset “Stranded In Vladimir” was acclaimed by game industry veterans like Raphaël Colantonio (Dishonored) and Julius-Cosmo Oniscu (Watch Dogs series).
• His novel “The Thoughts of a Man From Territory 15” that he wrote when he was 16 years old was released on Japanese label Kubitsuri Tapes (Merzbow, K2, The Gerogerigegege) as an Audio CD in 2013. The music for the book was written by GX Jupitter-Larsen of The Haters.
• He also reviewed many games and movies for Game Obscura and sashadarko.com, proceeding with a YouTube channel dedicated to reviews. He has published pieces in HardcoreGaming101 and DTF. His debut video review of PC Engine game Batman (1989) was highlighted by Igromania, the biggest Russian gaming magazine.
In 2019 he recorded a video for Russian battle rap stage Slovo Krasnodar to participate in the event and also a track for the Independent Hip-Hop Battle 17.
“The Night” was recorded in collaboration with the Russian cat Jazz, known worldwide for the pancakes meme.
Illnathix / Praxisfeelder – Split EP was co-released on 3.5″ floppy disks by Mind Noise Disintegration and Mu-hu-hu Records in 2009. Limited to 100 copies, it was quite possibly the biggest floppy disk music release ever (well, in Russia). All MND produced copies were sold out in several months after release, most of which were distributed by AK on his live shows.
The last recorded song under the name Alexander Kibanov was an ambient single “IX” recorded in collaboration with Austrian singer Susanne Hafenscher, which became the most downloaded release on Electro Rucini after its release in January 2010.
The development of Sacred Line Genesis took about 2.5 years and the text was revised by six people, including the creator of Sega-16 who is responsible for the final version. The cartridge release cover is based on the original art of digital release cover and was itched by Watermelon co-founder on a metal piece.
Recording process of Alexander Kibanov & Vir’ – Sent I November goes back to 2009. The album took about 7-8 years to complete.
99% of all Mind Noise Disintegration releases had fully hand drawn covers and every single copy of every release was made from the scratch. No printer was used, only penciles, pens, wax crayons and paper.
Earth Incubator – Soundtrack to… was a big 86-minute drone track recorded in real-time and was released by Russian black metal label Desolation Production on 90-min CDrs, which were extremely hard to find at the time and impossible to find now.
Title track of Earth Incubator – Domofon Ambient Dance was made from a 2-second sample of an opening intercom door. For the sake of fun it was released as a maxi-single featuring two remixes from Applecore and Snake Surikov. Earth Incubator – Davai / Scream was recorded the same way, only this time using two short voice samples from the trash horror movie “The Party” where AK played the role.
Arkadiy GR / Headless Kamikaze / HZ / Dreagann* – Cat Split Dedicated To Louis Wayne features cats on vocals. The artists were asked to record their cats and use the sounds as the vocals for their tracks. HZ didn’t have a cat at the time and recorded the track using her own voice, imitating the meows.
[C. T. D.] / Earth Incubator / Smrznik – Split was one of the first music releases in Japan after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The factories which could produce full-color cardboard weren’t available at the time, so the release packaging was black-and-white and used standard paper. All other releases made before and after the incident use thick full-color printed carboard packaging.
Earth Incubator – 001 was released as a parody of maxi-singles and featured 30-second digital noise piece as the main track. All 33 “remixes” were Audacity project leftovers.
Kenji Siratori is a Japanese cyberpunk writer known for his books written from the perspective of AI. He’s also known for the audio collaborations where he reads his books over someone’s sound material. But for “Rasputin“, the roles were reversed – the audio was provided by Kenji and AK was reading excerpts from the Rasputin’s biography.
The locations chosen for live shows were anything but usual clubs / bars. A movie theater (Noise vs. Glamour 2009), an abandoned industrial factory (Volzhsky 2009), even a huge two-story garage (Novorossiysk 2008). Volzhsky Open-Air Fest (Volzhsky 2009) took place near Volga, mere meters from the water.
He formed his first blues grindcore / hardcore band Red Label Noise Factory (allying with the screamo band Jimmy The Beaver) while still being in the middle school. Its first demo called “Brainfuck Session” was released by the Australian label Smell The Stench in 2008. After releasing a series of digital EPs and recording a final CDR demo the same year, the band had split up and a farewell gig was played in Yekaterinurg sharing the scene with Villainz United.