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Dyatlov Pass is an 8 – song historical concept album by Welcome to the 21st! about the mysterious fate of eight college – age students and their guide who died while on a winter trek in the USSR’s Ural Mountains in February 1959. The students were found over time after they disappeared, with varying injuries, and no one knows exactly what happened. It remains an open inquiry to this day. The theories as to what happened include an avalanche, a military test gone awry, and some even believe a malevolent supernatural intervention. 

The album follows the 20 – something nature travelers from meeting up before they left ( Hang on to Yourself – Song 1 ), to the early part of their voyage through a peaceful winter environment ( Sing to the Moon – Song 4 ), with hints of warnings along the way ( Warning Signs – Song 3 ). The middle of the album tracks the group’s eventual demise near a frozen mountain pass ( Dyaltov Pass – Song 5 and Lost but Found – Song 6 ), to the search and recovery teams that looked for them ( Boots in the Rain – Song 7 ) and who have sought for years to determine what actually happened ( Misleading Clues – Song 8 ). Band Info: The album was written and conceived of by Bob Blumenfeld (Guitars, from Texas, US) and Touanda (Vocals, from Manchester, UK), who met online through AirGigs. The rest of the instrumentation was mainly performed by, and mixed and produced by , John Dufilho a multi – instrumentalist, drummer, and long – time established indie music producer from Dallas, Texas. Bob’s other bands include The Disappearing Act and Lowdog. John is best known for his work with his band Deathray Davies.

Robert Blumenfeld of the band shares:

“A few years ago, my good friend and former bandmate, Mark Mendel, gave me a nonfiction book about the Incident at Dyatlov Pass, a Soviet-era Russia unsolved mystery.  If you haven’t heard of this, which most Americans haven’t, in February 1959, a group of eight students and their guide went missing on a winter trek through the Ural mountains. Search and rescue teams later found their empty tent pitched on a mountain side, sliced open, and a few frozen bodies, without shoes, laying some distance away.   It took several months to find all the bodies and it has taken over 60 years to piece together what might have gone wrong.   No one knows exactly what happened, and the forensic evidence discovered afterwards, for a lack of a better description, is really weird and creepy.  

I originally thought I might write a book or play about the Dyatlov mystery, but as much as I think one day I’ll write about history, it turns out I am better at songwriting than being an author.   In 2018, I was commuting back and forth between El Paso, where I worked, and the Dallas area, where I had moved with my wife.   I had more time to write songs that year, my brother Dan had just built a baritone guitar for me, and that guitar inspired a slew of new songs.   One of those songs just came to me, fairly fully formed for me, with lyrics – and the song “Dyatlov Pass” was born.

The idea for a “concept album” came a bit later, during Covid.  I wanted to keep developing new material during the early days of the “lockdown”  and reached out to Touanda, who I met on an online song-writing platform, about helping me write the song “Lost But Found” about the students who never made it back from their trek back in 1959.    I sent Touanda the rough mix of the song and the idea, and she did her own research on the subject and turned a draft of the song right around in a day or two, giving us the song Lost But Found.    Two songs down, and the idea of a historical concept album was on its way.  

So, the inspiration for the album is- besides me being a history buff – the true story of the Mystery of Dyatlov Pass.   The album is arranged as a chronology of the ill-fated trip, starting with the group of 20s-something boys and girls meeting up, eating and drinking around a campfire before they left (Hang on to Yourself).   The album midpoint is the last night of the trip for the trekkers, with them being lost but found afterwards.   The last two songs take the point of view of the search and recovery teams that spent months to find all the bodies and years trying to figure out what happened to them.

The third member of the band that put this album together is John Dufilho, a multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer in Dallas.  John took the rough mixes Touanda and I were working on and turned them into full arrangements, giving us the opportunity to complete our Dyatlov Pass project.”