2017 has been a pretty special year for music in the former USSR. The Eurovision was held in Kyiv, with millions of attendees and viewers recalling fond memories of the city’s endless charms. They watched Onuka provide a show that not only sounded good but drew an equal level of chatter about the remarkable accompanying visuals. Although someone from the post-socialist countries didn’t win, at least someone less Eurovision-y won.
On another front, famed Ukrainian singer Ivan Dorn indulged in the English language and some subject fashion but then pissed off everyone in Russian. Some of the tracks were okay though on the new album. More substantive attention was brought to the electronic music scene in Russia thanks to INRUSSIA’s continual promotion of it. Music festivals in Georgia, like Tbilisi Open Air, and Atlas Weekend in Kyiv, continue to attract bigger headliners and enable more local talent to gain exposure. With the music scene in the former Soviet Union buzzing, it is time to cap off some of our favourite tracks from the region for 2017.
Антоха МС – Ритм сердца
Антоха МС has long been the hipster’s favourite Russian artist, but with each release he looks like an individual completely indifferent to the attention. Once he is pegged as some caricature of Russian street culture, he releases a track that leaves all of us in fits of dancing. Ритм сердца is dance music for those that dance and stand about awkwardly until this gust of excitement comes on. It has none of the overplayed tropes of dance music, with its low-fi production, but it leaves you with an extra step in your walk throughout the day.
её – Чоловік-Муза (feat. Женя Галич)
её’s lead single from their newest album Чоловік-Муза builds off their impressive EP, which was released last year. A duet with O.Torvald’s Yevhen Halych, this track helps build upon её’s capacity to both create popular music while also refuse to adhere to pop conventions. They are a band that looks to create a distinct sound all for themselves. The track is itself brooding, tense and urgent, with a video that is equally visually stunning; channeling the complexity of love that the song’s lyrics recall. Of all the Ukrainian bands currently out there, they are the ones most demanding of increased attention.
George Ergemlidze – Violet Star
It appears at this period in time that any conversation regarding post-Soviet art and nostalgia must reflect solely upon the 90’s. It has got rather tiresome, honestly. This is why the appearance of George Ergemlidze’s Violet Star this year has been so refreshing and exciting. His angelic voice, matched with a visceral synth sound, recalls not the horrors of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Georgia’s descent into civil war, but the sense of excitement and the thrill of the 80’s. In true 80’s fashion, this track has a remarkable cinematic quality and offers a healthy break from the other work going on in Georgia lately.
junior a – paper planes
The past exists with such reinforcement that we live in a derailed future. The whole apparatus of YouTube clips and film remakes leaves us grasping for the past, through consuming its products, while feeling stuck in the present. Lithuania’s junior a’s work soundtracks this experience, where time is disjointed and we live in a toxic mix of nostalgia and futurism. His track Paper Planes gives so much heart to these paranoid times- where anything but alienation appears the natural reaction.
Arthur Mine- Impromptu #1
Stumbling across Arthur Mine’s work is one of those blessed moments where you first hear a sound and know that it will soundtrack the upcoming months to come. Speaking to Mine earlier this summer, he recalled recording Impromptu #1 and the rest of his EP at the Soviet era School of Arts for Children during breezy summer evenings. He stated that the children playing and the drunken men in the yard chatting at times interrupted the recording process but eventually he came to believe that they contributed to it. In this fashion, this track embodies all the subtlety of Kyiv’s atmosphere and reminds all those that have spent time there of the richness of the city.