- A bittersweet tribute to raves past, present and future.
- There's something nostalgic, almost bittersweet, about the title of Konakov's debut album, Kyiv Summer (Tracks 2014-2021). It seems to hint at better days, glorious summers, before Covid-19 and, years before that, the political instability and war that continues to affect the eastern part of Ukraine. Then there's the fact that it's literally nostalgic—much of the album was recorded years ago, as part of live sets for Ukrainian crew Схема. In some ways, each track is a postcard from a different event or period, marking the passing of time with rave-inspired club music that alternates between sunny and partly cloudy. With bags of expressive melodies and supple rhythms, Kyiv Summer Tracks is a brief LP that makes an impact beyond its 38 minutes, a personal history that feels like a journal written in club music form.
When he's not sounding bittersweet, Konakov sounds joyous. The album is full of moments where the weather changes and things pop, like halfway through the bubbly rave throwback "I've Never Been In Paris," when a steam-powered kick drum brings the track from brooding to banger. Or how the wonky, unpredictable rhythm section on "Still Don't Sleep" feels like it's going to fall apart before it builds back again, funkier and more complex than before.
Kyiv Summer Tracks indeed sounds like it was built from live sets, with an improvisatory flair that keeps each track engaging. Even the brief "1st Jungle" is a highlight, thanks to its stop-start breakbeat and strange melodic tangents. You might wish Konakov had fleshed it out more, but its flash of brilliance only makes it more tantalizing. The chunky drum pattern on "Sober" feels like it was mashed out on an MPC, while "1992" sounds like a loving caricature of contemporary techno, growing zanier and more effects-heavy with each passing bar.
Konakov's style of dance music is instantly appealing. From the opening stretch of "Summer On The South Street," you get a sense of a boisterous musical personality, the dance music equivalent of meeting a new friend who you feel like you've known all your life. His music is familiar and full of references to the past, and it's all tied together with a dayglo colour palette and a penchant for rhythms that are more bouncy than slamming. The LP could easily be read as hopeful, too: the year 2021 is in the album title, after all, looking forward to a summer that hasn't happened yet.
Few tracks on the album embody this mix of feelings like "Kyiv," which feels like a misty-eyed tribute to Konakov's home city, a blissful techno glide full of chimes and bells that are swaddled in reverb until they leave vapour trails, like streetlights seen through a wet windscreen. It's enchanting, catchy and, with its eerie, almost discordant breakdown, expresses complex feelings through the language of dance music, a language any club kid should instinctively understand.
01. Summer On The South Street
02. I've Never Been In Paris
04. Still Don't Sleep
05. 1st Jungle
06. Mam Talking
08. Flying Birds