Discover 18 Underground Bands From Ukraine

When it comes to sup­port­ing the Ukrain­ian peo­ple in their bat­tle against the Russ­ian inva­sion, it helps when an oppor­tu­ni­ty match­es our own inter­est. On this site that means direct­ly fund­ing the artists of Ukraine if pos­si­ble. For­tu­nate­ly, this new video from YouTube cre­ator Band­splain­ing will point you in the direc­tion of 18 Ukrain­ian under­ground bands that deserve a lis­ten and your mon­ey (if so choose).

While his chan­nel is devot­ed to “Weird sto­ries and less­er-known gen­res that don’t get cov­ered by Pitch­fork,” Band­splain­ing doesn’t usu­al­ly go in for cur­rent events, but as he explains, he is inter­est­ed in music his­to­ry, and bands that have con­tin­ued to cre­ate under extreme and dan­ger­ous con­di­tions.

“Music scenes that exist­ed six weeks ago are now at risk of van­ish­ing com­plete­ly,” he says. The list is com­plete­ly sub­jec­tive, and only hints at the Ukrain­ian music scene. Each major city has its clubs, and its fans, and its own home­grown labels. The sad­ness of watch­ing the video is won­der­ing what might have been bombed out of exis­tence.

I sus­pect none of the bands or musi­cians will be well known to most read­ers, though DakhaBrakha might be—they per­formed an excel­lent set for NPR’s Tiny Desk Con­cert series.

Includ­ing a band well-known enough for pub­lic radio might not be that “under­ground” but Band­splain­ing real­ly means musi­cians who don’t sound main­stream.

Ukraine has its own par­tic­u­lar psych/metal sound, exem­pli­fied here by Shi­va the Destruc­tor, La Hor­sa Bian­ca, Stone Jesus, and Soma­li Yacht Club. Lviv’s Sher­pa the Tiger play mod­ern Krautrock grooves. For elec­tron­i­ca it has the cold­wave of Kurs Valüt, Voy­age Future’s ambi­ent music, and the low-fi hip-hop of Provod.

There’s also old­er music his­to­ry dug up here—the tale of Valenti­na Gon­charo­va, the clas­si­cal­ly trained vio­lin­ist who turned to free jazz and musique con­crete, or pianist Ihort Tsym­brovsky, whose 1995 pri­vate cas­sette release is now con­sid­ered way ahead of its time.

Band­splain­ing checks in with some of these bands to see their cur­rent fates. Some have moved, some are fight­ing, sav­ing refugees, and doing what they can. His gen­uine inter­est in their lives makes this video more than just a list­si­cle.

Most of this music is avail­able through Band­camp, which does mean a major­i­ty of the mon­ey is going back to the musi­cians them­selves. And any YouTube rev­enue from the video will go back to the bands too, Band­splain­ing says, or Ukrain­ian char­i­ties.

Last­ly, the YouTube com­ments for the video con­tains hun­dreds more rec­om­men­da­tions from fans of Ukrain­ian music. Band­splain­ing has opened the flood­gates.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

How Ukraine’s Works of Art Are Being Saved in Wartime–Using the Lessons of World War II

Russ­ian Inva­sion of Ukraine Teach-Out: A Free Course from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan

Pink Floyd Releas­es Its First New Song in 28 Years to Help Sup­port Ukraine

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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