Boomkat Product Review:
Outright haunting DIY recordings by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Yurchenko, made on custom-built string instruments and voiced with a freedom that places him somewhere alongside Michael O’Shea, Zoviet France, Glenn Branca or that incred collab album with Svetlana Nianio excavated by Night School a couple of years ago.
The recordings, made between 1991—2001, open a fascinating and intensely personal portal to the inner life of Ukraine’s most mysterious artist. A private person who never gave interviews, partly due to suffering from ill health, it’s only in recent years and via reissues on Tom James Scott’s Skire and Ukraine’s Delta Shock labels that Yurchenko’s music has come to wider attention, and with it his history in the Ukrainian underground music movement known as “Novaya Scena”. Sadly Yurchenko is no longer around to receive his flowers - he died in April 2020 after years of declining health following a stroke - but like all great art and music his spirit lives on in these frankly stunning home recordings of him agitating the f*ck out of self-built, zither and cello-like instruments, fitted with electric pick-ups and amplified into the red with a mesmerising quality.
The real gem here is the A-side’s half hour-long ‘Count to 100. Symphony #1 (edit 2001)’, whose title and keening discord no doubt nod to Glenn Branca’s swelling guitar masses, but more singularly get right under the skin with sustained, coruscating harmonics, right on the cusp between harrowing and lush, with an in-the-moment thrust that surely recalls moments of Michael O’Shea’s eponymous wonder as much as otherworldliness of Zoviet France.
Likewise, we hear Zoviet France's feel for hypnotic lilt in the more gently rhythmelodic loops of ‘Intro’, featuring some mysterious combo of old Soviet keyboards and Casio SK-1 sampler. The bitterly melancholic ‘Merat Zara #3’ follows with a strong example of how Yurchenko absorbed and beautifully transmuted traditional Eurasian melody into his music, and again we’re left to Zoviet France references with the nine minutes of curdled tones on the elemental grip of ‘Playback #1’, which feels like being granted voyeur privileges over intensely private rituals that were possibly never meant for public consumption.
Total visionary stuff if you ask us.