In this release, two-time Alternative Eurovision winner Ummagma rise above the decay and mayhem encountered in that country to embrace diversity and beauty, while taking their music in new directions. ‘Kiev’ is not only the epicenter of massive civil unrest – it is the name of this release, and is ultimately a message of hope. The outcome shows that what is the end for one person may be the start for another. Even more importantly, it shows that beauty can blossom even in the midst of ugliness.
Formed in Moscow in 2003, Canadian Shauna McLarnon and Ukrainian Alexx Kretov have been consistently writing and recording music whilst living between Ukraine and Canada. Shauna’s delicate airy gossamer-like vocals hold glimmers of Cocteau Twins, Stereolab, The Sundays, Curve, Lush, and Slowdive. Alexx’s guitar, vocals, synths, beats and programming create cinematic soundscapes with elements of Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Bill Nelson and Brian Eno, enabling the listener to soar above the music.
Despite heavy turmoil in Ukraine, Ummagma look forward to a brighter future for Eastern Europe. In ‘Kiev’, this Canadian-Ukrainian team celebrates their freedoms, exploring the root of today’s problems to create beauty in the face of hostility. The duo has received support from Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)and Malcolm Holmes (OMD), who have remixed tracks for forthcoming release.
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This release is an impressive package featuring the original track ‘Kiev’ plus 9 remixes from 9 fantastic artists from as many countries, celebrating the splendour of the original composition in their own unique styles. One of these artists is Japanese producer Haioka Shintaro, who is one of just three Red Bull Academy artists from Japan, renowned for mixing traditional Japanese instrumentation with electronic chill sounds. In the words of the Academy, which is currently underway in Tokyo, “Haioka offers a distinctively Japanese take on modern electronic music, and one that rationalises the past with the future, and his nation with the world.”
Haioka’s remix takes ‘Kiev’ to the next level with sounds reminiscent of an angelic playground. Haioka was an avid music fan as a teenager but a terrible musician. “I’m completely tone-deaf,” he explains. “I don’t have any sense of rhythm and I’m a terrible dancer. I’m too embarrassed to go to karaoke even.” However his discovery of sequencers and quantized rhythms meant Haioka was able to embark on his present career, enjoying mainstream success with Bremen, a dance-rock trio who rose to prominence during the 2000s and appeared at the Summer Sonic music festival in 2006.
With Bremen currently on hiatus, Haioka is involved in another electronic project ‘The Kah’ and is also concentrating on his solo career as well as remixing tracks he finds compelling. He encodes music with the rhythms and sounds of his daily life together with “concepts that are important to Japanese people, like space and stillness.” Haioka’s interpretation of ‘Kiev’ is both delicate and decisive, a reflection of his cultural identity and expression of hope for the future of this beautiful city.