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Music / Nautilus Pompilius

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Nautilus Pompilius (Наутилус Помпилиус) was a Soviet-Russian new-wave rock band founded by Vyacheslav Butusov in 1983 in Sverdlovsk (now Yekateinburg). Over time, they became one of the most popular Russian rock bands of the time due to their philosophical lyrics and unique sound. Their songs appeared in some very popular Russian films, such as Brother (1997) (in which the band members, particularly Butusov, make some cameos), Brother 2, and Stilyagi. After the band broke up, Vyacheslav Butusov launched a successful solo career, and later joined up with Yuri Kasparyan (the former guitarist of another hugely popular rock band, Kino, and good friend of the band frontman Viktor Tsoi) and launched the band U-Piter.


  • 1983 — Pereyezd (Highway Crossing)
  • 1985 — Nevidimka (Invisible)
  • 1986 — Razluka (Separation)
  • 1988 — Ni Komu Ni Kabel'nost (Pun-Based Title: nekommunikabel'nost means 'lack of sociability' (a loanword, from communicare and -able-) and nikomu means 'to nobody')
  • 1988 — Knyaz' Tishiny (Prince of Silence)
  • 1988 — Otboy (Lights-out)
  • 1989 — Chelovek Bez Imeni (Man With No Name)
  • 1992 — Chuzhaya Zemlya (Alien Land)
  • 1994 — Titanic
  • 1994 — Titanic-Live
  • 1995 — Kryl'ya (Wings)
  • 1996 — Luchshie Pesni (Best Songs)
  • 1997 — Yablokitay (China-apple)
  • 1998 — Atlantida (Atlantis)

Notable songs


  • 2 + Torture = 5: In the song "Wings", it is implied that the heroes are forced to take part in this.
  • Adjective Noun Fred: We have a similar "Pronoun Noun Fred" structure with the song titled "My Brother Cain".
  • Angelic Abomination: It's subtle, but in "Blow, Gabriel!" it's said he let his horn out of his "paws" rather than "hands".
  • Ancient Egypt: Nautilus Pompilius has a song about Very Loosely Based on a True Story Tutankhamun.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • The song "Mother of Gods" has words:
      I was born a hundred times and died a hundred times,
      I looked at the cards — the devil has no
      Trumps. They enter our house, but what
      Will they do to us? You and I are immortal!
    • In the song "This Music will Last Forever", the return of the moon to the sky and the resumption of music after changing the battery on the player is described in a similar way to the scenes of the resurrection of people.
    • In the song "Transformation", the lyrical hero believes he will be able to return to life after losing his heart, ears, hands, stomach and head. In his opinion, he even needs to get rid of his organs in order to live longer.
    • The song "Tutankhamun" implies that by the words:
      I knew a woman,
      She always went out the window.
      The house had ten thousand doors,
      But she went out the window.
      She was falling to her death,
      But she didn't care.
    • The song "Walking on the Water" implies that Jesus came back to life and resurrected some other people.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: "Black Birds", in which Black Birds terrorize a man (and his daughter) and refuse his pleas and bargains to leave him alone.
  • Be Yourself: In the song "Scoundrel and Angel", it is said that you are who you are and you always be. And Heaven need you just the way you are.
  • Cain: "My Brother Cain" is a song about him or another person with this name.
  • Captain Obvious: In the song "Tutankhamun", Tutankhamun sometimes says obvious things, like, "if you pull your hair out, you won't put it back in."
  • Card Sharp: In the song "Scoundrel and Angel", the scoundrel is a card sharp who won the angel's wings.
  • The Casanova: In the song "Casanova", the lyrical hero wants be the one.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Possible interpretation of the hero of "Casanova".
  • Character Title: "Casanova".
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In the song "Air", faith helps the lyrical hero walk in the sky.
  • Clip Its Wings: The heroine of the song "Wings" tragically loses her wings.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The curse in the song "Juliet" ("Let no one ever love him. Let he never die.") can be considered as such.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: In the song "My Brother Cain", Cain wants to save Russia from Freemasons.
  • Cover Version: Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones (although it was rarely performed).
  • Crapsack World: In many songs — "Titanic", "Song for the Women's Protection", "Striptease", "Tear the Fabric", and, most prominently, "These Rivers Flow to Nowhere".
  • Creepy Crows:
    • In the song "Black Birds", birds try to hurt a girl (make her unhappy forever or, depending on your interpretation, literally peck her eyes out).
    • In the song "Walking on the Water", a black raven flies over the cross, and this frightens the apostle Andrew.
  • Crucial Cross:
    • In the song "Air", the man who escaped from the enemy, walking straight through the air, held in his hands a flower that looked like a cross.
    • In the song "Walking on the Water", the crucifixion gave Jesus the opportunity to perform miracles and save people.
  • Defiant Strip: "Striptease" is a song, in which the narrator calls for the Defiant Strip as an act of protest against greedy and extremely violent power holders.
  • Determinator:
    • In the song "Air", a man, surrounded by enemies, walked straight through the air.
    • In the song "Ivan Humanov", a man was so determined to follow his destiny, that the destiny run away from him.
    • In the song "The Last Human on Earth", a man had defended his house from myriads of foes until the very last moment.
  • Dirty Communists: Allegorically depicted in the "Red Leaves" and some other songs (sometimes more directly).
  • Doublethink: The song " Wings" has part that can be translated like:
    We used to have time,
    Now we have things to do
    To prove that the strong eats the weak,
    To prove that the soot is white.
  • Dragons Prefer Princesses: In the song "Scoundrel and Angel", the dragon had kidnapped the princess, but was killed.
  • Driven to Suicide: Possible interpretation of "Warm Snow Fell", where a committed adultery couple died by the end of the song.
  • Drunken Song: "The 9th Scotch", in which the lyrical hero gets drunk in a bar.
  • Escapism: In the song "Alain Delon (The Glance from the Screen)", a girl fell in love with a celebrity, because the place she lives is so ugly and boring.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the song "Walking on the Water", Jesus and apostle Andrew discussed that. The apostle asked how Jesus could resurrect people and walk on water. Jesus answered it's not a secret — in order to do that, Andrew just should be crucified on the cross. Andrew asked Jesus to show him the easy way, and leave the crucifixion for later. Jesus said Andrew, "you are really fool" — and Andrew, crying, went home with his fish.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In the song "Wheels of Love", it is mentioned that even Hitler and Genghis Khan had loved ones.
  • Eye Scream:
    • In the song "Black Birds", birds try to peck girl's eyes out. Her father offers his eyes instead, but the birds refuse, saying "we've already been in your eyes and taken everything we need."
    • In the song "My Brother Cain", Cain lost his eyes. He still can cry, and when he does, instead of tears, blood flows.
  • Fallen Angel: Described in the song "Fallen Angel" (another title of the song is "Like a fallen angel"), sympathetic.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: In the song "Thirst", the lyrical hero still can't forget his first love.
  • Flying Dutchman: In the song "The Flying Frigate", the lyrical hero sees the Flying Dutchman in the sky.
  • Forbidden Fruit: In the song "Goodbye Letter", American popular culture is called a forbidden fruit. For the Soviet Union's citizens, it is desirable precisely because it is forbidden. The lyrical hero of this song says goodbye to both the imposed hatred and the infantile aggrandizement of America.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Disappointing results of the Soviet government are described in the song "Bound by One Chain".
  • God-Karting with Beelzebub: Downplayed in the song "Scoundrel and Angel". They are just an angel and a scoundrel — and they are not so friendly to each other.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: In the song "Scoundrel and Angel", the angel and the scoundrel are playing cards.
  • Grief Song: "I Want to Be with You", about a man who commits intense self-harm after the woman he loves dies, ending with him being commited into a psychiatric hospital.
  • Hanging Judge: In the song "Titanic", it is said that the judge has blood on his hands.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: The lyrical hero of the song "People" hates all people equally, including babies, people who already died and himself.
  • Healing Spring: Living water is mentioned in the song "Transformation", but there is no explanation for where this water came from. Healing spring is one of the versions.note 
  • Heal It with Water:
    • In the song "Living Water", true love is compared to healing water.
    • In the song "Transformation", the lyrical hero plans to return to life with the help of living water.
  • Heaven Above: In the song "Scoundrel and Angel", Heven looks at everyone with joy and sadness.
  • Intercourse with You: "Gate From Which I Came", to a very creepy extent.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The lyrical hero of the song "Sea Serpent" thinks he'll become a giant serpent after his death.
  • Last of His Kind: The main character of the song "The Last Human on Earth" is the one. He is surrounded by some foes, but that foes are, apparently, not humans (either literally — or they just so cruel they can't be called "humans" anymore).
  • Magic Music: In the song "Music on the Sand", a boy, drumming on a tin barrel, creates an effect similar to that of a flute in The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
  • Magic Realism: Many songs cleverly combine realistic and fantastic elements.
  • Meaningful Name: In the song "Ivan Humanov", it's the titular character's name. "Ivan" is one of the most common male names in Russia. "Humanov" (or "Chelovekov", in Russian) is a non-existing surname — that consist of a root "human" ("сhelovek", "человек") and a suffix "ov" ("ов"), usual for Russian surnames. So the words mean "an ordinary person" or "a simple person". The first verse of the song confirms that:
    Ivan Humanov was a simple person,
    And his view of the world was simple.
    And his "yes" was a real " yes",
    And "no" was a real "no".
    And he knew what would be tomorrow from eight to five,
    And what whould happen after five.
    And if a mountain got in his way,
    He didn't try to get around it.
  • Mother Goddess: In the song "Mother of Gods", the lyrical hero considers himself as the Creator of the world and his loved one as the Mother of Gods.
  • Name of Cain: "My Brother Cain" is a song about person with this name or Cain himself.
  • The New Rock & Roll: Parodied in the song "My Brother Cain". Cain wants to save Russia from rock music and Freemasons.
  • No Name Given: A lot of characters of the songs referred to just "he", "she" or "they". But the song called "The Person with no Name" need to be separately noted.
  • The Noun and the Noun: "Scoundrel and Angel".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In the song "Gentle Vampire", the vampire called himself "an innocent child", but that doesn't seem to be true.
  • Power Floats: In the song "Air", a man got that power because he believed in himself.
  • Predation Is Natural: When predation is an allegory of violence in human society, as in the song "Wings", it is described as something terrible. But in the song "Once again I see R'N'R", where predation is just animal predation (or maybe a metaphor for the pursuit of inspiration), the author says about a cheetah running after an antelope:
    I know what's keeping me focused on this race,
    Trying to worry about someone,
    By running for both of them,
    Not knowing who should win.
  • Protagonist Title:
    • "Ivan Humanov"
    • "Juliet"
    • "Tutankhamun"
  • Protest Song: Nautilus Pompilius has a lot of that. For example, "Bound by One Chain" is a song against the Soviet government and "The Khaki Sphere" is an anti-war song.
  • Pun-Based Title: As you can see in the description above, Ni Komu Ni Kabel'nost is a pun-based title.
  • Red Is Violent: In the song "Red Leaves", red is not only a foliage color — but the color of murdered people's blood.
  • Rhyming Names: The band's name, Nautilus Pompilius.
  • Sea Serpents: The hero of the song "Sea Serpent" wants to become the one after his death.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In the song "My Brother Cain", Cain came back from Soviet–Afghan war with PTSD.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Alain Delon (The Glance from the Screen)" to "Robert De Niro" by Bananarama.
    • The title of one of the most famous song of Nautilus, "Bound by One Chain", is also a title of the film The Defiant Ones in the Soviet distribution.
    • "Music on the Sand" has references to The Pied Piper of Hamelin. This is a song about a boy who, drumming on a tin barrel, creates a Magic Music. The song has part that can be translated like:
      And to the drumbeat
      He calls us to follow him,
      And to the drumbeat
      We rush after him like rats,
      And we hide in the surf.
      Music under water,
      Music under water.
    • "Pure Demon" has a lot of references to Nikolai Gogol's novella Viy. Just like in the novella, a drawn circle didn't save protagonist of "Pure demon" from evil spirits (although the lyrical hero of the song could survive). The motif of the terrifying eyes, which are usually closed but opened for the main character, is also present in the song.
  • Sinister Minister: In the song "Titanic", it is said that the priest has blood on his hands.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: "Blow, Gabriel!" kicks it up a notch, to the Apocalypse Failure:
    Blow, Gabriel, blow! Now it just cannot worsen.
    City's so tight asleep, that Heaven itself will not rouse it.
  • Standard Hero Reward: In the song "Scoundrel and Angel":
    Everything ended as it should —
    Every fairy tale has a happy ending.
    The dragon died, killed by a spear,
    The princess goes down the aisle.
  • A Storm Is Coming: In the song "Mongolian Steppe", the storm is on the heels of the lyrical hero.
  • Time Abyss: In the song "Polina's Morning", Polina's morning lasts a hundred billion years.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The lyrical hero of some songs. For example, in the song "Gentle Vampire", he tries to look nicer than he is.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In the song "Tutankhamun", Tutankhamun bears very little resemblance to his historical prototype. In that song, he is both a great sage and Captain Obvious.
  • Walk on Water: In the song "Walking on the Water", Jesus does it.
  • Weather Report: The song "Weather Forecasters" ironically praises the wrong weather forecasters.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: In the song "Juliet", Juliet curses the man who hurt her, saying, "Let no one ever love him. Let he never die."
  • Win-Win Ending: In the end of the song "Scoundrel and Angel" (in which the scoundrel won the wings of the angel):
    The scoundrel sells in the market quills
    And fluff from the angel's wings.
    But the angel flies high, high,
    Just as winged as he was.
On the other hand, the dragon was not so lucky.