! (Russian: Ногу свело! Cramp in the Leg!) is a popular Russian rock band from Moscow, usually associated with humor and parody and accessible and sometimes childishly simple melodies. They have experimented with many styles in the past and seem to pay particular attention to instrumentation and arrangements and production values. The extravagant style of their late nineties albums has given way to a simpler and more commercially accessible sound in their post-1999 releases - perhaps a return to the guitar-centered sound of 1995's Сибирская любовь
(Sibirskaya lyubov', Siberian Love), yet arguably not possessing the youthful, hook-filled songwriting of that early-career round-up LP.
: W.H. Auden once suggested that poetry be defined as a clear expression of mixed feelings. By that standard, Varona's music is nothing if not potently poetic and is a work of precise weirdness, filled to the brim with emotional ambiguity and contradiction. The band's stylistic influences are no less mixed than the feelings their songs evoke. Barely-contained anxious spasms of screamy post-punk; frenetic, cheerfully-destructive experimentation of Downtown jazz; literary melancholy of late-20th century Russian-rock songwriting, are not so much ingredients here as deep-set roots, and the result is less a cocktail than an exquisitely strange hybrid mutant not quite like anything else springing from San Francisco's fertile musical soil.