V/A ~ Liberty | Compilation of experimental music from Ukraine

The Flaming Pines label continues its support of Ukraine with a second volume of music from the region. Igor Yalivec (Gamardah Fungus) is again the curator, while the cover art comes from Alina Haieva, the granddaughter of Maria Prymachenko, many of whose famous works were lost when the museum housing them was destroyed.

While all of the tracks are exclusive, three are brand new, and serve as real-time responses to the invasion.  The first is Yalivec’s title track, which rises directly from the ashes of opener “All Roads Are Destroyed” by Friedensreich.  These pieces express the sadness of an infrastructure reduced to rubble, the loss of life and culture.  And yet, the title speaks to the spirit of the Ukrainian people, who hold their liberty in such high regard that they are willing to risk their lives against seemingly impossible odds.

Some of the artists return from 2019’s Kaleidoscope, including Heinali, Endless Melancholy and Gamardah Fungus, while others may be familiar to our readers from recent reviews and interviews, including v4w.enko and husband and wife Dronny Darko and ProtoU, whose dark ambient/IDM “Sin Eater” closes the set.  Their work lies more on the experimental side advertised in the title, while many of the others lie more on the ambient side.  But Mova‘s “Ryoma” earns the experimental tag with dark abstraction and the sense that nothing is going to be okay.  The track contains hidden corridors and hallways from which strange and sudden sounds lurk and pounce.  Vlad Suppish‘s “A Hobbyist of Hellwords” is even more shrouded, in retrospect an unintended prophecy.  While the Bucha artist is known for morose music, one can hear a battle between hope and despair on last year’s Layers of Rebirth.  Roman Slavka has been active for over two decades, honing his craft from Dnipropetrovsk. “Naivyshcha Tochka” creates a steady military march, its relevance uncanny and unplanned.  super inter contributes “cyan,” a quiet series of tones and pops, less menacing but no less mysterious.  She writes, “Is there time and space for music now?  I believe, yes. In the ugly reality of war, music works differently, but it works, and it shelters.  I wish I could say I’m glad to take part in this compilation, but I’m actually heartbroken.”

It’s impossible to hear these tracks without thinking of the current context, even when the music was written pre-invasion.  But I, Iteration‘s “Homeland” is the collection’s melancholy heart.  The irony of the piece is the brightness of the chimes that tumble over a steady, subtle drone, like the spirit of the Ukrainian people, even in a time of destruction.  By the end of the piece, the music has turned electronic, almost clubworthy, sparkling like the hope that still exists.  The artist released a debut album Decay Complex last November, with the chilling note “(The) project explores human nature in a society, where human being is deconstructed into data points, and the only freedom left – is the freedom to explore one’s own being.”  The third brand new track comes from Waveskania (Katerina Yan), a prolific and multi-faceted composer, pictured above in happier times.  The drone “Strange Light Translation” seems stunned by the change in atmosphere, conveying bent expectations and the odd filtrations of light caused by fires, bombs and explosions.

The church bell of “Sin Eater” leads to the starkest question of all:  how much more new music will we we hear from Ukraine?  The fight for liberty continues, and in many cases, the artists whose music we enjoy are standing on the front lines.  All proceeds from this album will go to Ukrainian charities and to the artists themselves ~ as Yalivec writes, “With this release the artists want to emphasize the importance of art and the unity of people during the war, as well as their support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine who are bravely fighting for the motherland!”  (Richard Allen)

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