Nexsound – experimental, ambient, noise, improv record label



Zavoloka – Plavyna

Ukrains Nexsound label have been around for quite some time now, dividing their time and energy between releasing ‘real’ CDs and releasing MP3s. Katja Zavoloka hails from Kyiv in the Ukraine and has released a couple of MP3s albums and some CDRs, most notably for Zeromoon (see Vital Weekly 414). That was a bit too short to say anything about it, but here is her debut release on a CD, co-released with Austria’s Laton label. I’ve read that the “Plavyna” album is inspired by the folk music of her region, but it’s probably not entirely my unawareness that I didn’t recognize any of this in the vivid rhythmic yet abstract digital sound collages of Zavoloka until after the seventh track. Melodies arrive in there, here and there, but most of the time things are hectic and full of energy. Sometimes the use of reverb is a bit too tedious, but as a whole this is clicks ‘n cuts of the better kind. In ‘Kosytsia’ she reaches an almost technoid beat, with warpian senses. In the final pieces of the album, she starts chopping up the folk tunes, which she does rather nicely, but however this also breaks the album in two different things, which is a pity. However, the entire album is quite nice as a whole.


Zavoloka – Plavyna

With “plavyna” Katja Zavoloka has managed to put an interesting and admireable piece of work in the large empty space that exists between harsh noise and free form avant-garde, between glitches and minimal. Though most of the other projects I have heard, which attempted to do the same, turned out boring, but this CD is lively and full of humourous dynamics. Moreover, she introduces a few surprising elements and shows that there is still a lot of potential hidden.
Beautiful surprises await at the end of the road for those able to walk them out. Like almost something like a melody halfway through this record and an almost “folk” song at the end. But let’s take it one after another.

Zavoloka is actually Katja Zavoloka from Kiev, Ukraine, who has been around the mostly virtual world of mp3-posting on various places for some years now next to her occupation as a graphic designer[1]. More important, though, she has modelled her very own, unique universe of sounds, mainly bleeps and feeps with a little glitches here and there, held together by her more than unique feeling of structure and rhythm. Inspite of all the unexpected events, the unknown and strange surroundings and the sudden changes, the atmosphere of “plavyna” is warm, gentle and playful. Which is not at all bad for a “debut”. Since I don’t regard proper mp3-albums as inferior to regular CDs, I can’t really call this a debut as such. If anyone of you reading this wants to discuss the importance or ranking of music-storage formats with me, I’d politely decline and casually mention, that I’d rather talk about the music on them (especially when judging the global importance of electronic avant-garde music on an objective scale.)

The movements of the sounds to be found on “pavyna” reminds me of the dance of butterflies or the way the wind may swirl a piece of fluff over an empty place, with all its seemingly random yet hidden control of directions. The kind of stop and go in aesthetically motion that makes you wonder, if they are based on accident, on a set of rules, or on the random interplay of rules? So it is like the old postmodern mathematical science put into sound. Or is it just a special female touch that is invading noise-avantgarde? Songtitles translate as “little flower” or “painted berries” among others. If compared to Kotra’s “dissillient”, to choose an example from the same label, “plavyna” seems to be a walk in the park with a couple of little children. But only to people, who have never tended to small kids, an occupation most people would describe as “beautiful but exhausting”. Such a female influence would be very much welcome, though I don’t care if the actual, biological gender of an artist is male or female.

The music is mainly single notes and sounds, that fly across the aural scape in random movements. It takes Zavoloka into the middle of track five, “plavyna” to introduce something like a melody and to track six, “Kosytsia” to start something as a steady rhythm. Both dissolve into the rest of the sounds quite quickly or get osmotically sucked into a new dimension. The vocals in track seven, “Kolyskova”, come as a surprise. First there are some spheric noises and discordant bells, interferences and so on. Suddenly that lulling voice sets in, which sounds like an aged, old voice at first. So much that I started to doubt it was Zavoloka’s. It also sounds like a very old melody, maybe even a traditional song of some kind. The title of the track translates as “Lullaby”, so that spawns more suggestions toward old songs. The incorporation into her almost free form sound-scapes is to me one of the highlights of this record.

Now get this: the next track, “teche voda ledov” or “cold water flowing”, starts with pure and simple flute sounds as beautiful as might be found on any new age CD. Even the melody is soothing and simple, almost like that coffee advertisement on tv. The glitches and noises in the background soon destroy that impression, though they are in now way disharmonic or nerve-killing on the listener. The effect is startling nevertheless. The flutes are soon displaced by metallic sounding percussions that heat themselves into a desperate frenzy. Is it meant to be an up-to-date rework of the “Moldau”? With the flutes signifying the beautiful spring of the water and the metallic percussions the lead pipes of its industrialization? If so, why do the flutes return in the third part of the track? Maybe because Zavoloka is relaxing in a hot bath: The flute will return again later as well, so there is no need to inhibit your connotations and thoughts to any small confinement. There actually never is.


Zavoloka – Plavyna

Finally, we get to a very strangely enchanting record by Ukrainian experimental artist Katja Zavoloka. “Plavyna” [which translates as “Silt”] is an album as much of surprises as it is of utter shocks. Zavoloka takes the listeners on a journey into the land of high-pitched computer generated clicks and snips. Occasional tiny, soft beats are heard underneath the static soundscapes which she creates from scratch. Metallic glitterings and ear-crushing feedback-like fizzing overtake the ears. On “Kolyskova” [or “Lullaby”], her haunting vocals feed your soul, as much as filling your ears. Ultimately, “Plavyna” is a trip worth taking, only if to explore and feel the novelty of Zavoloka’s auditory world. Tom Sekowski


Zavoloka – Plavyna

Plavyna is Katja Zavoloka’s first CD release on Ukraine-based Nexsound after first having released an mp3 album on the same label. Nexsound has released work of a number of well-known and not so well-known artists over the past years. “Plavyna” was inspired by the folk music of the Ciscarpathian region in Ukraine. Zavoloka summons quite a long stretch of clicks, fragmented melodies, rhythmic particles, and various other sounds, where occasionally fragments of what I assume to be folk music from the Ukraine pop up. This wild variety of sounds is carefully assembled in a rich kaleidoscopic mixture that most resemble stuttering machines. The density and jittery movements from one movement to another resembles the work of some breakcore musicians, but Zavoloka’s work has a much stronger emphasis on melody and sounds lighter and more delicate than most releases in the aforementioned genre. A demanding release, but original in its approach.

Outsight Communications

Zavoloka – Plavyna

Kateryna Zavoloka is a musician from Kiev, Ukraine. Her instrumental electronica percolates with rapid and unexpected beet, bleeps and crisp snaps. At times this seem to be such a dense polyrhythms as to approach incomprehensibility. Then such tracks as “Rankova (Matin)” will gel into a languid if trippy journey. Zavoloka explains that her intention is “to produce more and more frank music that could reflect her momentary shades of feelings and emotions.” (3)


Zavoloka – Plavyna

Zavoloka est le nom de famille de Kateryna, un petit bout de femme de 23 ans vivant a Kiev, en Ukraine. C’est logiquement sur Nexsound qu’on la retrouve pour ce premier album surprenant de maturite, apres avoir produit en 2003 un album MP3 sur ce meme label.
La musique de Zavoloka interpelle. Apres une courte intro facon chant d’oiseau ludique, elle produit quelques pieces plutot experimentales mais pourtant toujours touchantes ou par moment accrocheuses. Des bruits divers, de tonalites variees s’enchainent de facon abstraite et par moment une magnifique melodie cristalline s’en echappe comme un genie sortirait de sa lampe. De la meme maniere pendant quelques secondes des impacts noisy vont former une rythmique qui nous fera hocher la tete. Ce qui rend egalement la musique de l’Ukrainienne touchante, c’est le nombre d’elements sur lesquels l’auditeur peut se retrouver, comme les impacts metalliques de Dzerkalo qui nous font penser a une horloge dereglee, des bleeps gazouillant a la maniere d’un orchestre d’oiseaux sur le final printanier et bucolique de Teche Voda Ledova.
Avec une palette sonore assez limitee, contribuant certainement a la coherence de l’album, Zavoloka produit tout de meme un disque fort riche et varie. Si l’on est d’abord marque par ces experimentations un peu abstraites et/ou ludiques avec un sens melodique subtilement dissemine, elle flirte avec l’electronica melodique sur le superbe Rankova et ses notes limpides, cristallines, avec un etonnant final a la flute. Ses constructions nous font parfois penser a une musique contemporaine minimale (Dzerkalo), ses sonorites limpides font l’objet d’un travail subtile sur Plavyna dont la melodie, reprise par plusieurs instruments, s’avere a la fois efficace et complexe, on pense meme aux premieres productions d’Autechre sur Kosytsia qui se voit bientot parasite par de nombreux bruitages qui serviront de rythmique, ou a un croisement entre Pan Sonic et une production 12k sur Kolyskova, debutant par une ambient minimale aux sonorites particulierement brutes, avant d’integrer un chant ukrainien empreint par la tradition du pays pour un resultat epoustouflant. Cette sorte de retour aux traditions est confirme sur Teche Voda Ledova qui debute par une melodie de flute, sur laquelle viennent se poser bleeps et basses electroniques ou longue nappe lineaire marque par de courtes sequences bruitistes.
Zavoloka est tres certainement un sacre personnage, se permettant a 23 ans de tels melanges avec une telle assurance, et surtout une telle reussite. Bravo aux labels Nexsound et Laton qui ont unis leurs efforts afin de donner sa chance a une jeune artiste pleine de promesses.

Paris Transatlantic

Zavoloka – Plavyna

When I was 13 my dad went on a trip to Leningrad organised by the British Communist Party (back then it was the only way to go), and brought back a vintage Soviet cheap vinyl pressing of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, complete with bold, red, fisting constructivist cover art and inner sleeves made of stiff brown recycled paper that smelt suspiciously like raw sewage. The promo copies of the latest two releases on Andrey Kiritchenko’s Nexsound label also come in plan brown paper- odourless, thankfully – and I’m inclined to wonder if they’ll age as badly as the Shostakovich (proof, were any needed, that the heroic and the bombastic are never too far away from each other). The opening track of Zavoloka’s Plavyna takes a pretty, reverberant flute melody and allows her software to morph it into a 21st century isorhythmic motet of glitches and squiggles. It’s a spanking recording, though I’m left with the uneasy feeling that, if they had the right equipment, just about anybody with a bit of sense and a good working knowledge of the Mego and Rephlex back catalogues could come up with something rather similar. Dive-bombing comb-filtered swoops and all manner of fizzes, whizzes and blips straight outta Planet Mu are perfectly listenable, but will probably sound as dated twenty years from now as Shostakovich’s crashing banality. One gets the impression that one should be applauding the software, and not the person using it.


Zavoloka – Plavyna

Vissa skivor tar lite tid att forsta sig pa och ‘Plavyna’ ar en av dem. Inledande ‘Maliovani Jafyny’ ar kravande, jag kunde inte finna ro att ta mig igenom den och skivan stangdes av flera ganger innan laten ens var slut. Nar jag spelade upp laten for mina vanner fick jag reaktioner som ‘sa har later det nar nagon kor en Unix-installation via ett ljudkort’ och ‘hon maste ha kopplat en geigermatare till en MIDI-synth’. Det ska sagas att jag inte var sen att instamma men, kara lasare, ni maste komma ihag att jag da endast hade lyssnat pa skivans forsta spar. Zavoloka gor inte noise. Aven fast musiken pa ‘Plavyna’ ar bruten ar ljuden aldrig pafrestande pa det dar direkt kroppsliga sattet som japanerna ar sa bra pa. Snarare ar musiken mjuk och vacker. Valdigt ofta paminner de intensivt hoppande och studsande ljuden om djurlaten, vattendrag och granskog.
“Det handlar om naturromantik…”
Det ar som sagt egentligen bara den forsta laten pa skivan som pa riktigt kraver nagot av lyssnaren (aven fast det spattiga och hart uppklippta delvis aterkommer i laten ‘Kosytsia’). Efter det forsvinner knepigheterna nastan helt och lugnet och varmen kommer fram. Det ar lite som att stanna bilen pa en stressad motorvag, kliva ur och gar rakt ut i skogen. Forst handlar det endast om att undvika att bli pakord men nar tradlinjen val ar bruten och motorvagen ligger bakom ryggen blir allt lugnare och stressen forsvinner allt mer ju langre in i skogen man kommer. Det handlar om naturromantik, Zavoloka gor musik som later som sagoskog med solvarma skogsglantor, porlande backar och blomsterangar. For ovrigt inte allt for olikt de skogar som beskrivs i Robin Hood och Bilbo, eller Nalle Puh for den delen. ‘Plavyna’ visar pa slaktskap med Tapes fortjusande skiva ‘Milieu’, men dar Tape later musiken stanna vid varma sommardagar och skogsglantor vill Zavoloka sa garna ga lite langre och blir overtydlig i sin imitation av naturen. Musikens spattighet gor dock att de manga naturromantiska dragen inte helt far ta over och darfor ramlar skivan aldrig ner i den lomska new age-fallan som skymtar har och dar, aven fast den kommer farligt nara ibland. Lattips: ‘Kolyskova’ och ‘Teche voda ledova’.
Forfattare: Zac Fors

Rock and Pop

Zavoloka – Plavyna

I vychod ma sve hvezdy v experimentalni elektronice. Jen je treba promnout si oci zalepene zlatym prachem ze Zapadu a otocit se na chvili na druhou stranu. Go East! I tam muze zlatokop narazit na zilu. Jednou z nich je ukrajinsky label Nexsound. A jednou z jejich chranencu je Kateryna Zavoloka. Po debutovem MP3 albu Suspenzia (2003) vydala Katja sve prvni regulerni album, ktere vyvolava v zasvecenych kruzich pozitivni odezvy. Co pozitivni, tahle holka si zaslouzi nadseni. Uz chapu, ze je kamaradkou AGF. Myslenkova spriznenost se nezapre, ackoliv formalni rozdilnost je na prvni pohled slysitelna. A to je dobre. Koncept zvukove cistoty a jednoduchosti v komplikovanejsi zvukove forme. Jeji glitche jsou totiz krkolomne tak, ze musite nekdy natacet hlavu na vsechny strany, abyste zachytili jejich logiku. Ale ona tam je. A dokonce i melodie. Ale chce to usili a zavrit si okno. Intelektualni procistenost, ale ne zadna askeze zvuku. Organicky hedonismus. Jako kdyby jste si za uplnku vyrazili na LSD do prirody a nahodou se napojili na jeji vnitrni jazyk. V pocatecnim soku nerozeznate vic nez zmatek zvukoruchu, ale po chvili uz umite rozlustit dorozumivaci kody. Zvlast kdyz do vas pri Rankove lesni duch vpravi zvukem carovne fujary novy jazyk. Jirik ze Zlatovlasky tusi. Stavate se tichym pozorovatelem prirodni komunikace. Konecne ma kazdy zvuk svuj vyznamovy ekvivalent, ovsem ne v nasem jazyce. Staci dotyk, a vsechno oziva. Uz jste si povidali s mechovymi kvitky? Jako by najednou uz bylo zbytecne hrat si na schovavanou a je nacase si vzajemne odkryt rousku. A jako z jine vrstvy reality vnimate zpev podkarpatskych starenek pri spradani niti a melodii pasackovi fletny, ktera se odrazi od okorale praskajici kury stromu. Ale i do tehle reality jste nekdy patrili, vzpominate? Digitalne upravena prirodni idylka nebo taky nesnesitelna psychedelie. Vyberte si.

Signal To Noise

Zavoloka – Plavyna

For the new generation of electronic composers jealous of not having grown up in the age of enormously beautiful analog synths, the first track on Playna, “For A Cuckoo”, serves up a 7 second homage that perfectly exemplifies and condenses the best that that music offers. And then Katja Zavoloka is done with that stuff, breaking off her own new dimension of electro-acoustic plumage for the rest of this excellent inaugural full-length from the Ukrainian composer. Soft digi-bells wave over the top of oblongly circulating ticks like melody messages from other solar systems on “Painted Berries.” A lot of sharply rising and descending tones ribbon out in vaguely Squarepusherish dynamism, but what sets her compositions apart is the careful distinction she makes between rhythmic and melodic functions within a song, giving each equal weight and in perfectly unpredictable durations. It’s the difference between the atmosphere and the weather, but experienced simultaneously from space and the equator. Using Ciscarpathian flutes as an acoustic sound source and what sounds like a lovable uncle singing, Zavoloka incorporates a deep well of enthusiasm for contemporary electronics with a natural sensitivity to what just sounds good. An impressive, demanding debut.