Saturday, January 9, 2016

Nekraїna - "Апокалiцтвa" [2002]

Artist: Nekraїna
Title: Апокалiцтвa
Genre: Dark Folk
Country: Ukraine
Release date: 2002

Track List:
  1. Калiка (He's Disabled)
  2. Коти
  3. Назавжди
  4. Люди
  5. Букети
  6. TerraMephista
  7. Калiюга
  8. Апоколискова
  9. Сьогодення
Last time I was reviewing George Charsky & Nekraїna's tribute to DI6, and now it's time for their second full-length album which contains mostly original material. It turned out to be much more electronic than their debut, which is unusual for most well-known neofolk bands who started from more or less electronic sound and gradually became more acoustic. According to Charsky, it happened because he couldn't achieve the needed quality of recording acoustic instruments at his home studio. After visiting London to contact the World Serpent Distribution, he admits that Britain had so many innovative and genre-founding artists because they had much better opportunities than his band: almost every of them could afford good instruments and a professional studio recording, as well as getting played on the radio. This album was recorded using the following equipment: Korean made acoustic guitar "Aria", Shure mic, Primax MIDI keyboard, and a Celeron 633 computer with a SBlive sound card and such software as Cubase and FruityLoops3. Not a super professional equipment indeed, but the result turned out to be surprisingly good.

"Апокалiцтвa" was supposed to be a surrealistic musical story of a homeless man who presents himself as a living god. After a night he spent in a subway begging for money, he's getting killed by two "chimeras" (whatever Charsky meant by that). Then the sky is getting covered with clouds in form of cats, the angel of death is coming from the sky and destroys the city where the homeless "god" was killed. Finally, the whole world collapses into the black hole where are no future or past, only the present. Despite the apocalyptic theme of the album, it wasn't inspired by similar themes in Western neofolk - Charsky thinks the Eastern European folklore is fairly apocalyptic by itself. As a staunch atheist, he also wanted to portray the protagonist of the story as completely useless in both of his aspects. Sorry if my attempt of translating his words was too vague, but I hope that the music would speak for itself anyway. A brief translation of several other questions and answers from his interview which I think are worth mentioning:

"Q.: There aren't many atheists among musicians you took inspiration from. Do you prefer to distance yourself from the religious aspects of their works?
A.: How do you know where I take my inspiration from? The influence of humanist and existentialist ideas on most things that I really like is much stronger than the influence of mysticism. I like people who understand that choosing their way of life is up to themselves, not to some esoteric (or, even worse, social) forces.

Q.: What are your political views, and what do you think of your nationalists?
A.: I feel pity for those people who waste their soul energy on completely anachronistic nonsense.

Q.: What do you think about gothic culture and its rules?
A.: I can't speak for the gothic culture as a whole, and the existence of any "rules" there is news for me. I don't like when someone puts an "infernal" image on, and becomes an idol for others, but I do think the gothic aesthetic well suits the people of European culture in general. Too bad that best examples of European gothic art and architecture became nothing more than popular tourist attractions, but I can respect the people who take the "dark" aesthetic more seriously than just an image or some kind of a touristic journey.

Q.: Why do you think there are so few women to create the really "dark" art? Because the creative insanity is against the female nature, or there's some other reason?
A.: This question couldn't be ultimately answered, because there are no one who truly thinks and feels neutral in terms of gender, in order to make an unbiased judgement. All I can say regarding the topic of our interview (music) is that some "dark" masterpieces could be created only by women, and while the "dark" aesthetic usually means aggression for men, it often means defense for women."

The original texts of his interviews can be found here and here, but I'm afraid the automatic translators would translate them even worse than me. In general, I like Charsky's answer, he seems to be a true believer in what he's doing while being completely not pretentious or arrogant. Sadly, nothing is heard from him since 2008, when he released the 3rd and the last album of Nekraїna - which, however, sounds rather like a collection of samples thrown together than this earlier neofolk works. Maybe there's some deep concept behind it, but I don't know. I really liked his first two albums, but I'm not sure what happened later...

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