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Zodiac (Zodiak, Russian: Зодиак, Latvian: Zodiaks) was an disco/synthpop group that existed in the 1980s in Latvia, then a part of USSR. The band was extremely popular in the USSR and has been credited by critics as the Soviet answer to the French band Space who were popular at the time.
Zodiac was formed by Jānis Lūsēns, then studying composition at the Latvian State Conservatory in Riga. The other four members of the group were also students of various faculties of the same conservatory. Zodiac's first vinyl record Disco Alliance (Russian: Диско альянс, Latvian: Disko alianse) was released in 1980 on the monipolist Melodiya label, during the band members' studentship. A significant part of the group's success was that the album was produced by Aleksandrs Grīva, one of the best sound engineers of the country, also the father of band member Zane Grīva. The music featured a lot of then-unusual synthesized sounds and effects together with more conventional disco elements while in whole remaining very melodic, atmospheric and easy to understand. The second album Music in the Universe (Russian: Музыка во Вселенной) released three years later was much inspired by a meeting with cosmonauts in the Star City, Moscow and their tales about space flights. The music of the album featured many rock tones and parts, became even more atmospheric and somewhat less conventional. During that time the band also performed the music of Viktor Vlasov for the films Zhenskiye radosti i pechali (Woman's Joys and Sorrows, 1982) and Ekipazh mashiny boevoy (The Tank Crew, 1983), the soundtracks for the both films were released on a vinyl record Music from the Films (Russian: Музыка из кинофильмов) in 1985. The music of the group was also used in the documentary film about the cosmonaut artist Aleksei Leonov Zvyozdnaya palitra (Star Palette, 1982). The last album In memoriam was composed and produced by Jānis Lūsēns alone and released in 1989. The album was dedicated to the ancient and modern cultural and natural heritage of Latvia. The sounding of the album turned from disco to light techno/synth pop while gaining a lot of fine classical music features that gave it a very unusual Baroque/Romantic taste, together with some ambient influences of Jean Michel Jarre. Disco Alliance and Music in the Universe were released together on compact disc by Mikrofona Ieraksti (which represents EMI in the Baltic states). In early 2000's russian electronic duo PPK recorded a remix of Zodiac's composition "Zodiac" from Disco Alliance album. This remix, tittled "Reload", topped world's charts.
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