Svarog – Unified Whirl

Svarog – Unified Whirl [BAHN· Records, 2023-11-23]


What is musical darkness in the psyche of an artist? Just an attempt to inject some charisma into the tracks? The simple sonic painting of a gloomy mood? An attraction to the occult? Or deeper: the authentic expression of a tortured self?

You probably already have in mind some names of artists for each sort, or combining sorts, such as Sam KDC for occultism, or Korridor for self-expression. For us, various signs show that Svarog falls into the last category.

First of all, the moniker “Svarog” represents a Slavic deity, evolving between life and death: it is not anodyne to pick such a name and make it an artistic identity. Secondly: since his first release in 2014, the Ukrainian artist has produced too many dark tracks and mixes to be seen as someone who just plays around with murky sounds. Even his rare luminous tracks, such as “Riddance” or “Fourth Myth“, embody enchanting yet melancholic dreams. Thirdly, the Carpathian Mountains, protected in the Mythology by Svarog’s son, are known to be inspiring for his art form, and resourceful. It somewhat illustrates the adage that “the best way to go out of the mind is to hike outside.” Last but not least: Svarog recently expressed his distress in a public post on Instagram, which reached our shores like a tsunami.

Because, yes, there is also a context. Ukraine.

The everyday rolling news provides a lot of information about the disaster that war brings, yet the terrible fate of the artists is less known. Most producers who make a living off of their art will tell you that among their multiple streams of income, the gigs represent the highest percentage, with the international plans at the top. The drama comes from the reality that after having faced the various shutdowns from the pandemic crisis, Ukraine in particular followed up with war, and the closure of its borders. As a consequence, Svarog’s gig opportunities (and morale) drastically dropped. He needs urgent help.

On the 9th of November, a grand pledge of solidarity – or said more correctly: a shared labour of love – was launched in our community, and we shall not stop the support, as long as the war is ongoing. 

“Unified Whirl”, whose title pretty well matches the situation, is a nice project coming from BAHN· Records. Without shouting it from the rooftops, the Spanish label immediately reacted after having seen Svarog’s post on Insta, by taking the decision to give 100% of the EP’s proceeds to the artist. It is in itself already a beautiful reason to buy it.

Yet musically speaking, the EP, well-designed with fresh grooves, is also worthy anyway. It is a high representative of Svarog’s sound signature, an occasion to explore further how the Ukrainian artist expresses darkness. 

While his music is fundamentally evocative of moods, with atmospheres in constant movements and an emphasis on bass tones, the ambience is somewhat nostalgic in “Unified Whirl”. Svarog confessed: “The tracks emerged from past experiences and impressions.” It is not good to live in the present time.

From another angle, you may notice like often in Svarog’s music that it is not “totally dark”: remember that his moniker suggests a balance between life and death. The mix between the forces adds to the melancholy from the darkness, and brings a message of hope from the more luminous layers. It’s difficult not to set a bridge between such a union of antagonistic emotions and the artist’s current state of mind, lost between two opposite magnetic poles.

Such interpretation comforts a link that we make between his art and the Baudelairien dream world, tortured yet romantic and sensual. The third track in particular is seductive, not from the superficial beauty, but from a wounded soul charged with scars and calling for care.

“Unified Whirl” is a sentimental EP, both musically and symbolically, representing at best the motto of the community spirit: “One for all, all for one” ❤️

WRITING BY: CEDRIC FINKBEINER | 23 NOVEMBER 2023

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