Shukai is a fairly new label, whose primary objective is spotlighting wild and forgotten music from soviet television and films. Far from any western stereotype of austere communist griminess, what we have is a dazzling collection of newly rediscovered, almost decadent, treasures. Kobzareva Duma’s psych fused jazzy funk, the dreamy lysergic detailing of Voloymyr Bystriakov, and the alien fog of Valentina Goncharova are all hugely recommended by OBLADADA as markers in this freshly discovered zone of musical creativity.
Finding a small label doing seriously good things is well worth a closer look. In amongst their slowly growing pile of releases is an active sub label called muscut, a more contemporary overview of artists based in Ukraine. Whilst none of the names looked remotely familiar an unassuming album Live from Odessa by Chillera, caught our curious eye. Months later, it’s an album we have played so many times, it’s become a wonderful low key soundtrack to our humid Scottish summer…
An all-girl Ukrainian band, Chillera are Nastya Marykutsa, Polina Matskevich and Ganna Brizhata and Live From Odessa captures them revisiting and expanding on their fledgling discography which currently comprises of just one 7” and 10” single to date. The moment we hit play, we had no idea what to expect, only to be met instantly in head nodding approval with waves of lo-fi dub infused grooving rock.
Simply and beautifully played with drums and bass and guitar, everything is gently coated in echo and a trippy understated glow. Twists of surf rock, morphing into jazzy rolls and funk, but underpinning everything is always this hugely satisfying dubby drift blowing through everything.
Presented as little more than a live capture, the recording, comprising of two near 30 minutes sweeps of Side A and B, both containing 6 unnamed tracks, some old, and some new. Charmingly the pauses between tracks punctuated by tiny bursts of applause and at times, a wonderful barking dog. Despite the recording almost feeling like eavesdropping or played at a volume designed possibly not to upset the neighbours, it’s easy to get somehow very comfortable in all this.
Quite what the actual gig was like is a mystery, but a thick slice of Odessian ambience somehow just works perfectly. We’ll admit, a quick refresh was required to pinpoint where Odessa even is, and this album the sum total of our knowledge of the current music scene in Ukraine. However, as this beautifully lower-case release clearly signals, there are some very cool things happening here.
Live From Odessa has all the hallmarks of a fairly minor release, a sketch or run through of ideas to be more fully realised or built on elsewhere. But it’s definitely not without huge merit either – keep an eye out for Nastya, Polina and Ganna, and what they do next…
Perhaps you didn’t realise you needed a kosmic new band gently beaming out from the north coast of the Black Sea – but trust me – you definitely do!