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Ukraine - Bandcamp Explorer

  by Mark Rowland

published: 21 / 6 / 2022

Ukraine - Bandcamp Explorer


In his 'Bandcamp Explorer' column Mark Rowland examines some of the best music that is currently available on Bandcamp from the Ukraine.

For two months we’ve watched the Russian military devastate Ukraine and upend the lives of its people. And in the midst of all this, the country’s musicians and artists are still creating, and where we can support that work, we should. Bandcamp gives us access to a lot of great music from around the world, so digging into the local music of a particular country or scene is fairly easy these days. Ukraine produces more than its fair share of metal acts (Jinjer is probably one of the most popular Ukrainian acts), but there’s more than that to discover. Take ‘The Wrap’ by Sunchild, the prog-influenced project by Kharkiv-based songwriter Antony Kalugin. This is an older album, first issued in 2010, but he has been producing a number of releases recently under the name Kartagen. Central to ‘The Wrap’ is the multi-part title track, split into five parts. It’s very much indebted to the period when psychedelic became prog, but there’s an accessible songwriting edge to it as well, in addition to some (inevitable?) metal influences as well. Is there a touch of cheddar about it? Yes. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s fun. King Imagine’s ‘Holographic Portrait of the War’ is a tougher listen; an avant-garde electronic free jazz noise expression of King Imagine’s emotional state during the war. It’s an unsettling audio diary split into five parts, constantly tense, sometimes barely audible, always disorienting and unsettling. One of the most interesting and enjoyable artists on Ukraine Bandcamp is Dakha Brakha, who perform a very modern version of Ukrainian folk music. Their recent album ‘Alambari’ is fun, quirky, mournful and beautiful in equal measures – often in the space of the same song. There’s a glorious sense of chaos to it that leaves you with the impression that Ukrainian folk music can really liven up a room. ‘Dostochka’, ‘Sonnet’ and ‘Torokh’ are particular highlights. Spacey shoegaze act Somali Yacht Club releases its third album, ‘The Space’ at the end of April. At the time of writing, only the first two tracks are available to listen to, but what is on display is epic alt-rock that captures what made shoegaze/alt-rock bands of the 90s great while bringing their own modern twist to it. John Object makes interesting, tuneful electronic music that draws from the same well that originated with Aphex Twin more than thirty years ago. His most recent release, ‘Sweat’ is more beat-driven and, in his words, more focused than his previous works. But when Putin sent soldiers into Ukraine, he put out ‘Life’ a 58-track compilation of unreleased and old work. “Currently we are all being bombed. I have no idea what my life is going to be like tomorrow and how much longer I have, so it felt appropriate to share an archive of my 2010-2019 works, in case I never get to do that when I'm old,” he says in the notes for the album. Object thinks very little of the material here, describing the bulk of them as “boring and self-indulgent”, but there’s actually a lot to like. Much of it is ambient, but it’s all fairly melodically strong. Some tracks are overlong, but with so many of them, you can’t really go wrong. It brings to mind the second half of ‘Low’ in many places. Much of it accidentally captures the mood of the conflict, at least from the distance at which many of us are viewing it; sad, unsettling, drama unfolding from a distance. While you listen, you cannot escape the reason why it was made, which makes it all the more powerful.

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Ukraine - Bandcamp Explorer

Ukraine - Bandcamp Explorer

Ukraine - Bandcamp Explorer

Ukraine - Bandcamp Explorer

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