The situation in Ukraine grows literally darker, colder, and more urgent even as the world might want to move on. So it’s worth spreading the sounds of Kyiv’s Standard Deviation, which unites an array of adventurous and imaginative Ukrainian artists with friends like Marcel Dettmann, DJ Stingray, and Setaoc Mass.
The musical gifts of those recognizable artists aside, there’s no shortage of arresting music from Ukrainian artists here. It’s another chance to get to know a scene that has had to fight for recognition both before and after the full-scale invasion of February.
And this one pours out emotions, bittersweet and urgent.
That starts with the powerful “broken but still works” by human margareeta. She’s been as active as a displaced artist as she was organizing back in Kyiv, equally at home with experimentation and dance and everything between.
Margareeta just had a great broken (in the sense of beats) set for HÖR –
Of course everyone’s uh “song of the summer” “russia is a terrorist state” makes an appearance. (We all have that on our USB sticks now, no? If not – you can easily add it.)
Crucially, that show in turn referenced the urgent fight to support power inside the country.
As she writes:
Ukraine’s key public infrastructure is suffering due to constant russian rocket attacks. Having lost 50% of its energy capacity from such attacks, Ukraine is preparing for a cold, dark winter, filled with long-term electricity blackouts. Due to an unstable power supply, overloaded hospitals often can’t perform the necessary medical treatment and medical operations to save the wounded.
We want to keep critical healthcare centers running in every corner of Ukraine. We aim to raise 1 Million Euros for 100 Electrical Generators, which will power hospitals in emergencies. With an autonomous power supply, hospitals can keep their life-support systems running, and save hundreds of lives, daily. Share Light for Christmas – Donate Now. Power Life in Ukraine.
I’ve talked to various friends involved in that effort. The key factor here is that this situation is urgent on a day-to-day basis. We’re literally talking about keeping power on in hospitals.
On through the compilation, there are still more chillingly lovely outings from Athens’ Evita Manji and Warsaw-based Yana Ilo. There are PAN favorites like Tzusing (NL), the enchanting percussive dance of Italy’s Heith.
Hanna Svirska is another rising talent from Kyiv, with “Inner.” Don’t miss this moving single, also out this month:
Or her album “Echo”:
Ukrainian composer / violinist Katarina Gryvul’s “Ocean” mixes menacing electronic pulses with ghostly vocals. From 2020:
shemovesshe’s aleo is almost gut-wrenching to listen to. That’s an alias of Gael Abakarova, also from Kyiv, who put out this longer release in May with remixes by other figures from the scene there Nastya Vogan & 2550. To me, it’s the sound of some of the trauma I know friends are going through, and yet as the liner notes say, “attests to the stringent continuation of Gael Abakarova’s body of work.”
cysta forma has a gorgeous, crystalline track and – I’ll confess to not knowing who this is, but assuming another Polish artist since that’s Polish for “pure form.”
Marcel Dettmann’s contribution actually suggests a whole other side to this artist that I thoroughly enjoy, a hopeful, glowing ambient work that pushes through the release like light. It’s followed by equally optimistic sounding pads from Kyiv’s Koloah as the comp takes a narrative turn, as if recovering warmth.
On that note, do check out this 2021 LP outing by Koloah:
“Сум” is sorrow – a mournful sort of lullaby in the midst of this. Drawing a blank on that artist, too, if someone wants to chime in. That and Chaosy & Costa I’m guessing may be new formations for these tracks, but “Into The Dark” brings a sound befitting the track name, with distorted beats beneath.
M.E.S.H. is James Whipple here in Berlin, also known from the excellent Janus event series. Detroiter-gone-Berliner DJ Stingray is a master producer as always, far beyond just the electro he may be known for – every bit as notable for his experimental creations. Setaoc Mass’ “Yellow Train” fits in neatly as a shadowy broken beat at the perfect moment.
Louwave hails from Lviv, and incidentally is a talented live player – and frequently duos with Splinter (UA). “Dixing” has that live intensity to it, and you should check their jams, too. (Splinter lists “war” as the latest gig date on SoundCloud – a good reminder to anyone imagining Ukrainian artists are getting some kind of nice career break out of this. In a word – no.)
Multi-faceted producer from Kyiv Andriy Kostyukov titles the track with the acronym most of us didn’t know this time last year, HIMARS, in a track that oozes anxiety across every spectrum.
Andriy has another big release from this year that also reads and sounds like a form of simultaneous therapy and sonic protest:
Self-expression during the russian-Ukrainian war.
Written for people that feel lost in their thoughts, being far from their homes.
Also here you will find an audiovisual collaboration with PRYVYD
So here’s sound – you’ll get video when you purchase:
The compilation finishes with the almost dreamy-defiant track “Free Ukraine” from legendary Ars Was Taken (formerly AWRWSW, also once half of WWWINGS – know your Ukrainian IDM – leftfield, folks). Back catalog for them:
It’s end to end, in the tracks here, the artists represented, the scene it reveals, and the narrative that draws it together, one of the best compilations of this year. So while everyone is prematurely turning in their end-of-year lists (heh, I feel you, journos), just make sure to give this a listen, learn the artists, and absolutely take action to keep the power on.
For more on the K41 Community Fund this compilation (and many of the Bandcamp releases support) – this is a vital one, as these kinds of funds often get more quickly and directly to where support is needed:
If you are in Berlin, friends are organizing two benefit events. The first on Friday I’m also part of, so you can say hi, enjoy some Odesa coffee, and we can talk about how to put energy into a better world.
MRIYA are working on an epic fundraiser at about blank on 23 December with an endless lineup so – if you’re in Berlin through December, you definitely won’t feel alone or bored here:
That again is working to support a generator and keep the lights on in a hospital. Plus you’ll notice among other favorites of this site like Kotra, the about blank gig is a chance to see Louwave x Splinter (UA) and Nastya Vogan play in person, both featured on the comp above.
It’s electricity-powered music coming together to keep the electricity on. Let’s keep that going worldwide for everyone who needs it.