In Ukranian Promeni translates to ‘rays’ and that is what beams from the first chords of the title track of the latest recording from sound artist Zavoloka (Kateryna Zavoloka). From Kyiv but based in Vienna her wavy rhythm here takes an expansive shape that is formatted fully forward. It’s a sound that blooms like the best minimal techno, but never breaks out for the dancefloor, only reaches over and beyond, but mostly along its edges. It’s a bright balance of melody and electronics. Her church organ-style synths get crunchy, like boots on snow and ice on Sontse. It churns with a satisfying beat and blazing electronic chords. The shifting background tones are luminescent.
On Gromovytsya the resonance again shifts into moderation, becoming a track that helps traverse light and dark. It’s a passing, intermediate work that wrangles the atmosphere for the stern vibe of Flame from Within, here more of a quizzical piece that is a shoegazing post-rock fusion with a cold wave edge. This harder noise edge lasts throughout the mysterious Bagattya and the contorted rumblings of Inhale the Light. It’s until Fire Consecration that Zavoloka begins to open the doors to her quizzical, sensitive side that offers the essence of ancient folklore. Her style is truly in its own class, especially while looking at (embedded) cultural history, dividing it into something that makes sense for a modern ear. The subtle drama creates a timeless sound – something I haven’t heard since the early days of Dead Can Dance, but very different.
The final stretch brings Zirka and Iskra. The edginess of some of the earlier tracks bleeds in, but the sound is slowed and thoughtful. There is this drop-down undercurrent of beats and wiggly buzz, but she is fashioning a mirage of sorts to come. The last six minutes is a homecoming, in a ochre glow, just like the self-designed cover art which has a fantastic geometric design that harkens back to art deco, the Bauhaus and ancient reliefs of many mystical societies. The sound, almost a procession, has this fine jingle and tom tom, until it becomes a bit more abstract and suspenseful. One of the things I like about listening to Zavoloka’s work over the years is she challenges the listener to never expect anything but the unexpected. As we come to the conclusion a layer of static enters and the work slowly disintegrates, but before the very last note a sweet melody traverses and smooths the path.