The latest review contains interesting Belarusian music that was released this fall. A return to the roots of Akute, dark and very well-aimed composition by Svetlana Ben and Galya Chikis, an unexpected experiment from a little-known musician from Minsk, Gregory Neko, an atmospheric ballad from Naviband and other new releases.
We stumbled upon this album by accident and didn't have any super expectations, but we were impressed by what we heard. Finding information about Gregory Neko is almost impossible: no results can be found on social networks or Google, so the only source we have is Bandcamp, where the Emergent Drama was released. The album is a mixture of dynamic and sometimes aggressive electronics and saxophone.
Trendy London-based jazz-rock band The Comet is Coming is successfully using such a musical component: the trio of musicians create very interesting and varied sound that is built on a jazz foundation and is complemented with an electronic finish. There result is the sold-outs at major venues across the globe, a gorgeous festival track and really exciting live shows.
Obviously, an underground album like Emergent Drama is more chamber, experimental and hereby it’s not for a wide audience which does not make it less interesting. Primitive and looped samples incorporate something resembling aggressive techno or drum’n’bass, eventually turn into something that seems like an improvisation and somehow miraculously balance on the verge of experiment and pop level. This album is also interesting because we don’t know anything about the musical background of its creator. This blank page is a completely new and rather interesting phenomenon. We hope this is just the beginning of a great journey.
"Salmiakki" is a band that is yet to be heard by a wide audience, although it was quite famous in the Minsk underground scene. The band made quite specific music: a mix of emo, jazz-rock and post-hardcore. This list of styles already makes it sound interesting! Why did they play? The band, judging by social networks, is in a state of suspended animation and doesn’t plan any activity in the near future, and it’s a shame! The very name of the band means a Finnish delicacy, like licorice, but with a lot of ammonia. In short, very specific sweets. But most likely, the name is the result of a pun associated with the surname of the bandleader Maxim Lakritsky.
Recently "Salmiakki" released a single of two tracks - "Separation" and "Kavardak". It is turned out to be so interesting that it would be enough for a whole album. Musicians ignore the usual system of verses and choruses and create their own universe with absolutely unpredictable dynamics and structure of compositions. Most of all, this reminds me of the most interesting bands of the Grodno underground - Earworm and Dismantling the Character. But they are still different in mood and obviously had different inspirations.
Be sure to listen to Salmiakki's wonderful album called "Maeta" – it has an excellent and very authentic track list with great potential. Unfortunately, it is now pointless to wait for new songs from the band.
Svetlana Ben and Galya Chikis turned out to be a truly fantastic tandem: these two talented people feel each other very precisely and create music that makes the whole body tremble. Most recently, they released a new composition “Black cans” - a horrifying statement-reflection on a topic that is painful for all Belarusians. It could be the most powerful thing we've heard since 2020.
Benka in this composition is a wounded person who leads an internal dialogue. This person has passed all possible tests and is now forced to live with comprehension and understanding of what happened. It's difficult, it's impossible, and "you need to forget all this in order not to kill anyone" - a refrain that will pulsate in the mind of the listener, a question that each of us must scroll through in our heads.
The musical arrangement of "Black Cans" is a soundscape that creates the exact atmosphere for this horrifying, but very well-aimed melodic declamation. Gloom, hopelessness, the terrible pain of a mentally wounded person who is looking for a way out of merciless reality. And even here, this person finds the strength in himself for a wonderful metaphor and compares paddy wagons with black cans of milk. A sad smile through unbearable pain.
We are looking forward to a big premiere from these talented musicians.
Palina Palaneychyk / "The Earth is Burning"
We really like how Polina Poloneichik works on herself. She was not afraid to transition from a girl with a guitar to an electronic artist. The result did not come immediately: at first you could hear the same "guitar" Polina, quiet, a little unsure of herself. Unsuccessful images and metaphors, fuzzy melodic solutions were also disappointing.
But Polina worked hard to eventually become one of the most prominent singers in contemporary Belarusian music. An example is her new single "The Earth is Burning" - an adult and very convincing work of a person who has learned to perfectly interact with narrative, melodies, and arrangements. Great composition with almost no weak points.
Elastic synthetic bass, gripping beats, vintage synths are a fairly universal components in pop now, but Polina adds her own charisma to this track: more complex intonations, naked emotion to avoid the “plastic” effect. Bottom line: a very convincing and promising single.
Another great single comes from Naviband now that they have learned how to write beautiful sad songs. The musicians have completely lost their sugar coating and now sound supernatural. The arrangements have lost unnecessary elements and become more precise and minimalistic, the voices of Artem and Ksenia sound more adult, and the lyrics have become meaningful.
"Sorrow" is a very beautiful acoustic composition with a fantastic arrangement. This is exactly how high-quality pop music should sound: with taste, without excessive pretentiousness and uniform tricks for all occasions. This composition is built in so as there’s no interference with the Ksenia's gorgeous voice, and this is a completely reasonable and correct decision. The result was a melancholic ballad, perhaps the best in this genre this year.
Akute / "Halfway Here»
Akute remained silent for quite some time after their rather experimental album "V". It was unusual for the band’s listeners: it was built not on the known to audience guitar-bass-drums sound, but on an electronic one. It can’t be said that the audience negatively perceived this departure from the canon, but the album was met rather coldly.
Now the musicians have decided to return to the roots and released the album "Halfway Here". It sounds really very “akutovian”, which is upsetting as the band has returned to where it started, and uses the same tricks and musical moves. The formula works, and it cannot be said that the album is unsuccessful. But after the masterpiece "Plastics" and experiments on "V" it feels like a step back.
The album will definitely have his own audience and fans, as it has a lot of great singles, it sounds cool and looks like a beautiful continuation of the Akute’s story. But “Halfway Here” is an inconsistent and, probably, untimely release from a band that after a long period of silence has been expected to do something fresh and interesting.