Soundlab: Ukrainian music can’t be silenced SE01EP03: Slava Ukraini!

The Russian attack on Ukraine, as of the time of writing this article already lasts longer than a month. It’s hard to believe that our lives can go as usual when the atrocities of war are raging in a peaceful country. 

The unprovoked, and impossible to rationalize conflict is obviously what should be the main topic on our mouth, and we should do all we possibly can to help the victims and refugees. However, we should not forget that before Ukraine was ravaged by the Russian aggression it boasted a thriving music underground, and many of the artists that took part in its creation are now among those fleeing. 

I believe that getting to know their work might be a way of paying respect to their current struggle, and in most cases buying their records is a direct way of supporting the Ukrainian resistance. Please consider doing that, if you’re able to! 

As for stylistic descriptions, we’ll listen to some minimalistic idm; a sound-design collage of voice and classical instruments; ornament-inspired techno and last but not least a modular synthesizer-oriented post-minimalism. 

Poly Chain – Dogtooth

Sasha Zakrevska is a Ukrainian-born, Warsaw-based DJ and producer. She gained the well-deserved acclaim for her club-oriented productions, but also took part in a collaboration with Bartosz Kruczyński, which resulted in calmer, introspective sounds. 

This year, she released an EP on Warsaw’s Dom Trojga label, known for experimental approach to dance-oriented electronic music. Dogtooth is a short, effective record featuring great production and distinct hardware sound. It also features a cover art by Bartosz Zaskórski

Katarina Gryvul – Tysha

Katarina Gryvul is a Ukrainian composer and violinist born and raised in Lviv. Using her classical training, she managed to create a sound collage that she describes as her reaction to the solitude of pandemic reality. 

Tysha is a rare example of sound-design effort that still manages to capture you with song-like forms (and not only when it comes to tracks’ length). Mystical vocals backed by consciously crafted sonic backgrounds make for quite a unique listening experience.

Zavoloka – Ornament 

Kateryna Zavoloka is a Ukrainian-born, Berlin-based visual artist and producer. On Ornament, her seventh album, she aims to encompass the aesthetic and metaphysical qualities of traditional Ukrainian embroidery. While folk-inspired electronic music isn’t something unprecedented, Zavoloka manages to create something genuinely fresh and authentic, by reaching for the conceptual idea behind the traditional art, rather than trying to include traditional sounds in the music itself.

Heinali – Madrigals

Oleh Shpudeiko is a composer and producer born in Kiev. His interest in renaissance classical music (which he finds highly “mathematical”) inspired him to come up with his own approach to a modular synthesizer. The way such an instrument works gives producer an ability to compose not only the melodies and rhythms, but also probabilistic events that shape the resulting sound in a way that oscillates between seeming randomness and complicated logical equations. 

The album features four medium-length tracks that seem to gain the life of their own, as the running time progresses. Highly meditative, soft and reserved sounds result in a piece of art that lets you focus and experience sonic events in a calm, yet substantial manner.

I hope that You enjoyed this short showcase of Ukrainian underground, and I encourage You to use it as a starting point for your own discoveries. I merely grasped the surface, and I’m certain that there’s still much more to be discovered! In the meantime, please stay empathetic and vigilant. I’m sure we will have many opportunities to focus on Ukrainian culture without the context of war in the near future. 

Listen to the full Spotify playlist below: 

About The Author


Aspiring philosopher, musician and music aficionado, speciality coffee enthusiast. He holds bachelor degrees in Swedish Linguistics and Philosophy. Interested in all kinds of sonic arts both as a producer and listener. Currently working on the topic of social ontology.

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