Volodymyr Gnatenko


Kalahari Oyster Cult • 2022

Volodymyr Gnatenko (formerly Vladimir) was still putting the finishing touches to his debut album when the bombing began in eastern Ukraine. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the producer from Lutsk has not only appeared on Ukrainian labels, such as LSS557 and Rhythm Büro, but has also released noteworthy EPs rich in detail and brilliant production chops with the UK band Animals On Psychedelics and the Italian musicians from Where We Met. Live gigs in Kiev clubs like Closer followed, a small tour through Europe was planned – then he was forced to hole up in his studio with friends. Instead of fleeing like millions of others, Volodymyr Gnatenko decided to stay. The work on »Rainalice«, which has now been released though Kalahari Oyster Cult, was too important. It becomes clear why as soon as you hear the first beat sequences on the title track drawing geometric figures through your inner ear: Gnatenko, meanwhile, has managed to channel all the qualities of his live sets and EPs – from nostalgic warp IDM to acid cuts to full-bodied ambient pads – into a consistent signature the maxim of which is understatement. So »Vrede« sounds like it was taken from a never-released »Artificial Intelligence« sampler from 92 where it evokes long-lost memories between perfectly mixed drum shots and a bluish shimmering melody that could just as well be dreams from another life. Volodymyr Gnatenko actually goes that far himself. On the chortling maelstrom of »Geluk« or the hypnotic »Adal Heid« as well, he initially creates perfectly formed break sculptures, which he gradually wraps in a dense haze of ambient techno, trance and downtempo. How long he spent on it, how much he decisively does without, is audible at every moment – but the conditions under which the tracks were created are not. For »Rainalice« is a work at peace with itself, a production rarity that escapes the madness of these days with stoic elegance.