A Soundtrack to Distant Fantasies: The Sunder Records Compilation

KLIM Beats (Kiev)

A wonderful new collection of Russian and Ukrainian beatmakers has just appeared from the little-known Sunder Records. The label claims to be an "independent organization, based in California. We promote artists and publish compilation albums, full of interesting music. Sunder was formed in 2012." To be honest, there's no information online to back up some of the core claims here - including the address. In fact, our English quote includes a few grammatical "tweaks," too; the original author appears not to be a native speaker. Whatever the truth, though, this album is simply titled "Beats Vol 1." and offers twenty-five excellent examples of young producers from both sides of the Russo-Ukrainian border.

If Sunder does indeed have no connection to California, the project is - nonetheless - full of romantic yearning and that, perhaps, is even more important. "Beats Vol 1." offers plenty of work from young men and women already familiar to FFM, namely MellowmatixThe CancelFonerInfiniteWaysDafuMalefiqueQube UniteUfmoLingvistoOffBeatKidMicBeatZ, and Nathree. Today, however, we're looking at eight of the brand-new names, many of whom would - like Sunder - rather stick to reverie than busy themselves with pragmatic facts or figures.

Big! (Pithy praise on Soundcloud)

Take, for example, KnBtZ from Moscow who despite his capital location, amid the bright lights of primetime showbiz, is uninterested in wordy self-promotion. This young man's real name is Mikhail Fotchenkov and his main resource on Vkontakte is given over almost entirely to soft-focus photographs of natural beauty, usually flowers. The main comment from listeners at his Soundcloud account currently reads "Big!" That sense of grand dreaming is handled better by visual tools than by anything verbal.

Romance needs no wordy justification.

Sasha Gorenyuk (aka Mag. TOdessa)

For that same reason, one of Fotchenkov's social networking accounts shows him playing with a double bass, found by chance at a local dacha. The happiest, most sizable dreams are entertained far from the public eye, too. Solitude and silence offer considerable benefits.

Working - and wishing - along related lines is Sasha Gorenyuk (aka Mag. T). Born in 1991, he uses a telling phrase to crown one of his media resources: "I treasure those moments when my music resonates in your earphones or speakers." The best, most heartfelt communication is melodic. It need not involve the awkwardness of physical contact, either. The staff at Sunder Records dream of distant California, and their collected artists work with the same "removed" desires. Touching tunes and missives are dispatched - with great effect - to faraway headphones. 

I treasure those moments when my music resonates in your earphones or speakers

In actually, Mr. Gorenyuk lives in Odessa - but beyond that storied location, rich in musical traditions, he would rather say nothing. He offers no educational or personal information, even when prompted by the design of a networking profile. Blank fields are preferable to excess chatter. The only time he seems inclined to become gregarious is on technical matters, i.e., when he turns to friends and colleagues in order to better understand his instruments. "Hey, guys. If anyone out there messes around with audio technology, maybe they could recommend a good external USB sound card? I promise a 'like' to anyone offering a helping hand!"

Judging by the photo above, his gratitude sometimes extends further.

Beatsystems (Roman Musaev, Kiev)

Once some friendly voices emerge in the search for spare parts, Gorenyuk then inquires: "Perhaps somebody could help me a bit with the set-up, too?" After that work is done, the compositions will continue, buffed and polished in happy solitude.

Some of this solo work can be impressive indeed. The "Beats Vol 1." includes a track from the one-man outfit KLIM Beats, again based in Kiev and shown at the top of this page. He has already published a wide and striking range of recordings on Bandcamp, each available for mere pennies. Related praise on Soundcloud is heard loud and clear… yet there's no evident desire to support these sounds with words! The most prominently positioned phrase online offering some connection to this Kievan producer is - as with KnBtZ - a request for neighborly assistance. That question is implicitly posed to kindred spirits, who'll ideally offer good-natured support, yet not spoil the peace and quiet of ongoing creativity. KLIM Beats' request in translation reads: "Can anybody make me a cover for the next album? If you can, drop me a private message!!!"

No need to say any more.

Kindness and honesty...

His neighbor Roman Musaev performs as Beatsystems and - on one resource - states directly that most social conversations (often with the opposite sex...) "feel like you're speaking the language of complete nonsense." Instead of chit-chat he uses the same online profile to state his fundamental concerns in life as the wordless, ineffable workings of both "art and beauty." The most valuable qualities he notices in other people are documented as "kindness and honesty."

With admirable self-deprecation he then lists his favorite movies as "dopey Western comedies!" The simplest, happiest phenomena are held highest of all. Hence the charm of a wantonly amateurish fantasy, scribbled in a school notebook.

The "hardware" with which Odessa's Dbkkb claims to compose

When it comes to his current social status (amid noisy social processes), Musaev says in English: "I'm forever alone." That melancholy phrase is, however, immediately followed by a smiley face. Once more solitude is held to be precious indeed; it provides both the time and possibility to fashion fragile dreams of distant places. Many of these "Beats Vol 1." tracks, after all, employ long, unbroken passages from American R&B classics, themselves taken from the "dopiest" realms of MOR pop. The simplest dreams are the dearest. And the furthest. 

I appreciate all your comments and downloads!

A second contributor from Odessa, new to FFM, is Andrey Valikov, who prefers the moniker of Dbkkb. Just like KnBtZ, he would rather display photographs than turn to drawn-out phrasing or self-explanation. His only English-language statement online appears to be the following. "Cheers! I'm a Ukrainian beatmaker. I appreciate all your comments and downloads!" Thanks and enthusiasm are the two prime goals: they're simple, yet - as ever - elusive.

A few months ago, Valikov gave over part of his Vkontakte page to a conversation with friends and fans. A colleague soon contacted him and asked to borrow a beat. Valikov immediately answered: "You're a major loser!" - in mock disdain of somebody who'd rather borrow than author a few phrases. Within minutes, though, a jovial tone was clear and Valikov happily offers his catalog for sampling. What looked like irritation or offense was, in fact, mere play-acting. 

One observer, joining in the role-playing, was surprised by Dbkkb's deliberate avoidance of PR or profiteering. "You really should promote yourself! I reckon your beats are great. How long have you been doing all this?" Valikov quips: "Well, I'm still very much an underground artist!" 

"Artur," guiding light of Loft_Produxions (Sevastopol)

For that same reason, even the business-like names of some "Beats Vol 1." are to be treated with irony. In Sevastopol we find Loft_Produxions, which is actually one young man by the name of Artur. As an avatar, which we've borrowed, he uses a Soviet crest - and replaces the hammer and sickle with a black vinyl record. These various jokes about "production" actually occur against the backdrop of this compilation's most extensive CV. Our Sevastopol artist has indeed produced a lot - and is happy to list his achievements online. He is also the only one of our chosen producers today who speaks with concern about concrete, forthcoming efforts. "As far as the future of Loft_Produxions is concerned, the next release has already been announced. It'll appear during the summer."

As we can see, though, for most of this album's representatives, that same time of year serves a romantic, not productive purpose. We might look to the southern Russian producer known as Mad One, who lives in Rostov-on-Don. He, in fact, has recently spoken of "new work that'll be based on the theme of summer. In simpler terms, it's the kind of music you could take with you on holiday! Thus far I want to say one thing: the LP will be full of jazzy notes - and rich in funky rhythms, too!" 

Music to conquer the cosmos... somewhere over there, very far away

Thankfully that same sunny outlook extends across the full geographic range of this compilation - all the way to St. Petersburg and Yellah Beats, whose music was recently assessed by Drugoy Hip-Hop as "the soundtrack to our lives. We don't just mean banal, everyday experience, but life as a whole - with all its various aspects and facets.... Listening to this music, you might recall some everyday hassles... These tunes, however, do suggest that sometimes it's possible to leave all the chaos behind and truly relax... New, loftier heights appear both closer and more accessible. It even seems this kind of music helps people conquer the cosmos... somewhere over there, very far away." 

Much further than California.

The zealous application of "warmth" by Mad One (Rostov-na-Donu)

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