The long promised album from ”the Slavic spiritual warrior” on the Scottish label will arrive next month.
Joey Anderson helms the first release from the new offshoot of LA label Absurd Recordings dedicated to “left of centre house and techno”.
Vakula (pictured above) will continue his endeavours to use Leleka as a platform for others to shine with news of a forthcoming split release between himself and “mysterious export” Dusty Baron.
Ukrainian producer Vakula is generally regarded as a master of subtlety, but on his latest release he’s ventured into more visceral terrain.
You can separate the true musical mavericks from their lesser contemporaries by the lack of interest shown in merely treading the same waters upon which your name was established, no matter how highly celebrated a canon it is. Despite what the Dope Jams crew have to say, most would agree Konotop’s self professed spiritual warrior Vakula belongs in this category, with the diverse nature of his output so far this year – two artists albums under different names with a third to follow on Firecracker – edging in ever more ambitious directions than the intricately arranged deep house that dominated his prolific output between 2010 -11.
Ukrainian producer Vakula, evidently cheered by his nation’s promising start to Euro 2012, has offered his fans a free download.
Only someone as scarily prolific as Vakula could possibly elect to surpass a calendar year in which a relentless procession of twelve inches appeared by gracing the music world with three full length albums. In the weeks preceding the release of Vedomir, the Ukrainian’s album for Dekmantel under the same Tolkien-esque name, Vakula still finds the time to deliver a second 12” for his own Leleka imprint.
As we previously reported, Firecracker Recordings will be releasing one of three albums out this year from the prolific doesn’t even cover it Ukrainian producer Vakula. The label have elected to tease all ears by putting clips of all 12 tracks from the album up for streaming purposes on their Soundcloud page.
Vakula has a seemingly bottomless pit of creativity to call on which is matched only by the amount of labels that are more than willing to accommodate it on a twelve inch. Thrillingly, if you checked his recent podcast for us you’ll know that there’s a veritable raft of productions which are still to see the light of day (If you didn’t check it what’s wrong with you?)
The Ukrainian producer’s label hopping endeavours see him at the helm for the launch of the newly minted Shevchenko label. Named in honour of the Ukrainian cultural icon Taras (as opposed to the free scoring forward Andrei) and rumoured to be closely affiliated with the Firecracker imprint upon which Vakula first came to our attention, it’s a stellar first release that gives further credence to the growing opinion here at Juno Plus that Vakula can do no wrong.
“Mama Said Go Slow” is typical Vakula, twisting through various analogue passages across the course of the vinyl, the few constants being the gloopy subaqueous rhythms that occupy the nether regions along with what might just be a sample from one of Mohamed Al Fayed’s favourite musicians and the hissing oscillations of percussion.
The flipside sees Vakula indulge in some smudged out beatdown business on “Deaf World (Dub)” which draws you on a kaleidoscopic journey to the lower echelons of hypnotic, fluttering house music. Obvious sonic references to Detroit pervade the track but it’s indelibly marked with the graceful Eastern European touch of Vakula. It proves to be a subtler yet equally potent example of the producer’s lack of interest in traditional house music structures. Hopefully Vakula will continue to release music of this standard long after we run out of superlatives.
We’ve extolled the virtues of on-fire Ukrainian producer Vakula so many times in recent months that quite frankly it’s becoming a little embarrassing. Yet it seems that as soon as the dust settles from one stellar release, another hits the shelves more or less immediately. Indeed ever since that Firecracker 10″ arrived in 2010, it’s been a constant stream of quality, with subsequent releases on Ethereal Sound, 3rd Strike, Archipel and, now, Dekmantel. The small Dutch label is credited by no less authority than Tom Trago with reinvigorating the Amsterdam house scene with its Detroit-leaning parties in the mid 2000s. A slow but steady release schedule has so far brought material from Amsterdam-based artists Juju & Jordash and San Proper, with techno ledge Rob Hood commissioned to remix a single from the latter’s debut album.
Vakula’s debut for the imprint opens with “Picture Of You”, which unfurls majestically from a melodic deep house jaunt with aquatic melodies and cosy pads to a hands-up piano driven stomper – just wait for those stuttering keys to come in towards the end! “Acid Release” serves as the perfect foil to the grandiose opening salvo, doing exactly what it says on the tin with a dusty acidic thump ridden throughout, the result being something that would fit snugly into the dirtier corners of the Dance Mania back cat. Flip over for the ambiguously titled “Music”, which features a female vocal turn that sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a well, along with a dense bassline and twangy, metallic hats. “Smooth Sketch” features some off kilter Theo style mindfuck weirdness with marching hats and meandering melodies, before “Johnny” picks up where “Music” left off with another memorable vocal, this time nourished by jazzy keys and superbly crafted chords.
Ukrainian producer Vakula has been bubbling under for a few years now, with low key releases for Quintessentials and Uzuri. It was perhaps his contribution to the highly feted Firecracker EP series that elevated him to a new status. There’s an obvious cultish pedigree attached to the boutique Edinburgh imprint and the five tracks that formed his release demonstrated an upwards shift in the quality of Vakula’s productions that was more than worthy of such celebrated company.
Since that release Vakula has steadily built up a small but impressive canon of works for Under The Shade offshoot 3rd Strike, Anton Zap’s imperious Ethereal Sounds imprint and Andre Lodemann’s Best Works. Returning to the 3rd Strike label for the Saturday EP, it would appear collectively they have delivered their finest work to date. For the avid buyer of contemporary house records, this has everything. 3rd Strike have discarded with their established minimalist theme, enlisting the Nthcreative design agency to produce some striking sleeve art whilst musically Vakula keeps his end of the bargain.
There’s a special sheen that cloaks the four diverse productions whose inherent ear for melody grabs you immediately. The opening track “Touch” is truly sumptuous, progressing from a delicate piano centric house bump into waves of twisting introspective orchestration with a nonchalant ease that characterises Vakula’s production capabilities. Beneath all this is a crisp multi-layered rhythmic palette that sounds inherently live, which ensures there’s some room for dancefloor exposure despite the downtrodden jazziness that pervades.
Those pining for the more upwardly thrusting side to Vakula will find solace in the fuzzed out freeform beatdown of “Gospel Keyboards” with the twisting backdrop of twisting chords and a brilliantly rough sounding beat gradually engulfed by the increasingly bright flourishes of titular melody.
On the flip “Crossing” eeks out a glacial throb, all rusted jacking rhythms and frosted basslines, before taking a swift left turn into a delightful pattern of ivory swirls. The final ascent into fuzzed out acid melodies is a further example of Vakula’s willingness to shift between different ideas within the constraints of a single production. Proceedings end on the title track, another excursion into ethereal beatdown filled with jazzed melodic touches which kind of sounds like Anton Zap remixing the Cheers theme tune (that’s a good thing). With the recent announcement that Firecracker offshoot Unthank have entrusted Vakula with the responsibility of their second release, it seems our favourite Ukrainian since Mila Kunis is definitely on an upwards trajectory which is fully deserved.
Eastern Europe is proving to be something of a deep house goldmine these days. The arrival of Anton Zap and Nina Kraviz on Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality imprint built an invisible bridge between Russia and Connecticut, whilst unheralded Estonian producer Bakey USTL will soon appear on Firecracker sub-label Unthank. That won’t be the first time the Linkwood-Fudge Fingas-House Of Traps axis of Scotch drinking/house music has peeked beyond the Iron Curtain, with Ukranian producer Vakula (aka Vakula Karpenko) popping up with the fifth instalment of the famed Firecracker 10” series back in June.
Here we see Karpenko return with an EP on Under The Shade sub-label 3rd Strike, which has already released some deep house fire in 2010 from Erdbeerschnitzel and Mark E. Opening gambit “Nema” – evidently named after the vocalist it features – starts with a nice rolling drumline interspersed by live bongos, which rest snugly beneath Nema’s beautiful if indecipherable vocal sweeps. It shares the A-Side with “Nerve”, which opens in a Moodymann- “MEANDNJB”-style flourish, dropping immediately into a rolling analogue crunch which works nicely with bleepy synth chops.
The flipside commences with the extended bongo solo intro of “All The Same”, before some club-friendly kick drums arrive, riding above murmurings of sub bass as chord stabs drift in with a vocal snatch uttering ‘New York’ to set the mood. “Hoopa Loopa” follows in a more understated tone, with soft chanting replacing the tropical percussion, while “Beat Ja” – definitely the cheeky hidden gem on this 12” – closes out with pitched down vocal gurgles and raw junkyard drums.