In Russian, goslab means state laboratory. In French, children’s lab. For electronic musicians Tusia Beridze and Gogi Dzodzuashvili, Goslab is an adopted name, one they and several other multimedia artists (including Nika Machaidze, Tamuna Karumidze, and Zaza Rusadze) from Tbilisi (the capital of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia) apply to their creative output. Beridze and Dzodzuashvili’s recordings, released as TBA and Post Industrial Boys respectively, decode the moniker a little. Goslab is defined as much by the post-Soviet experience as it is by ingenuous play.
“In the early ‘90s, we were a group of friends who had no communication with society, everyday talking about art, music, film, books,” explains 33-year-old Dzodzuashvili. “We helped each other survive during the hell period in Tbilisi. We made it all right because each of us reflected it in our work.”
Though Georgia has recently moved more into the global political fold, Georgian electronic music, if there is such a thing, remains harder to map. Listening to TBA, 25-year-old Beridze’s debut on Thomas Brinkmann’s Max Ernst label, for example, one wonders whether it’s experimental classical music, fragments of a film score or far-out minimal techno. Sparse beats intermittently echo like clues in a detective novel, reminding the listener she’s on the trail of a song.
If Beridze’s genre is the detective novel, then Dzodzuashvili’s is satire. Dzodzuashvili wrote music for theaters and dance companies in Georgia, as evidenced by Post Industrial Boys (also on Max Ernst), a collection of deadpan threnodies to the 20th century. Friends from Goslab contribute Georgian and English vocals about cops, melons, and mediocrity.
“I like humor in music,” Dzodzuashvili says. “When the words are emotional, I try to put them with music to the contrary. Because of that, sentiments don’t bother you.”
Whether with mystery or jokes, however, the focus remains on channeling the world through electronic music in order to create a new one.
“A friend of mine used to mock this Georgian mafia guy who was trying to screw a Russian girl,” Beridze says, somewhat cryptically. “He’d say, ‘Do you like it? It’s yours!’ It’s a very funny idiom. Electronic music is exactly like this.”