In her monthly report, Lucia Udvardyova tracks the movements in and from the best of the Central and Eastern European sonic underground, distilling the best of her Easterndaze blog.
“But many just try to focus on music, keeping away from the toxic ideology waste. Everyone struggles everyday, so what? Make music, don’t complain. I believe that most artists would prefer if their work was appreciated for its own merit, not thanks to the image of ‘dictatorship’s victims’ or ‘culturally isolated/handicapped folks who still try to do something.’” In an insightful article about the Belarusian underground scene, a musician, label-head and university lecturer Pavel Niakhayeu touched upon a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. How to separate the dirty, clammy hands of realpolitik from creativity—in this case, music. “I’m quite sad that this summary was filthed with political shit that we’ve been watching way too much in Bulgaria anyway. I’d replace it with a lot of movement in the ambient / experimental / noise scene here in Bulgaria,” another comment sums up the general attitude and weariness from the constant politicization of the life here in the East. But sometimes it’s just hard to avoid completely. By the way, talking about politics and the East, a new music compilation aims to raise awareness of the status quo in the Ukraine and raise funds for organizations which are supporting independent media and protesters.
Out of Pavel’s overview of contemporary electronic music from Belarus—the one that shies away from being associated with “the ideology toxic waste” and that still remains largely unknown in the West and also East, for that matter—a few projects have caught my attention. For instance, the netlabel Haze with an impressive portfolio of 200 releases under its belt, focusing on experimental electronics. One of its releases is dedicated to the great figures of 20th century literature, from the perennially relevant Kafka to Joyce or Woolf. The concept might sound a little twee, but the music makes a confident statement.
[HAZE232] Aortha’s Chronotope
Love Cult meets Druss, a (sonic) match made in heaven. The duo from Petrozavodsk has caught up with Manchester’s techno shamanists Gnod—or rather the solo project of one of its members, Druss—for a split on the always excellent Irish label Trensmat. The artistic interaction bears the footprints of both of the originators: an ethereal melange of yearning vocals and ominous soundscapes spiced up with relentless drum machine—courtesy of Druss, I suppose. Love Cult Take Druss is out in March.
Another noteworthy new release that is due out very soon on the German SicSic Tapes comes from Budapest, of which I have written about numerous times in the last year in this column. Martin Mikolai—the fledgling producer, and the Farbwechsel label owner, with a release on Opal Tapes under his S Olbricht moniker and a lot more to come this year—has teamed up with his friends and fellow musicians Alpár (who is Farbwechsel’s other half Bálint Zalkai) and the relative newcomer Carla Under Water. Alpár’s trademark kosmische vintage electronics dominates one side and a darker, more guttural undercurrent emerges on the other, courtesy of the aformentioned Mikolai on electronics and Carla Under Water on vocals.
And last, but not least, as they say, is, well, Dunno, a brand new Polish imprint with a fairly apt name for today’s times, injected with an adequate dose of nonchalance and wrapped up in an air of coolness. Deservedly so, in this case. Focusing on nonlinear dance music, Dunno’s roster features seasoned musicians like Piotr Kurek, renowned for his acclaimed Heat album on Foxy Digitalis, as well as modular techno maverick Wilhelm Bras. ~
You can read previous editions of Eastern Haze here.