Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Onuka – Vidlik

Sounds something like explosions.


Will Adams: The Vidlik EP was inspired by the Chernobyl disaster, which just recently had its 30th anniversary. As such, most of the songs approach the accident from the present, with the resigned melancholy tragic events often simmer down to after decades. The title track is the exception, swapping Onuka’s usual soundscape of lush atmosphere with traditional Ukrainian folk instruments for aggressive, electro-brass minimalism. “Vidlik” translates as “countdown,” and it’s clear what is approaching. Nata Zhizhchenko, whose father was a liquidator after the accident, recites the lyrics with terrifying militance, one word at a time. The mantra becomes more sinister with each repetition, as the song chugs forward with that blaring ostinato. Then, the unplaceable disquiet pulsing at the edges of “Vidlik” swallows the whole space, as it abruptly ends with Zhizchenko declaring readiness as the clock ticks to zero.

Cassy Gress: Oh, I wanted this to be something steely and press-molded like Zon! When I realized how much dancier this would be, I renewed my optimism, but those tuba (?) blats get thoroughly repetitive after a few passes. Onuka smartly breaks it up with a vaguely operatic interlude, which freshens you up for the tuba blats to come back.

Brad Shoup: It’s all under control, terrifyingly: rounded synthbrass riffs alternating with alarms from the real deal. Until the choral vocal towards the end, the effect is like Benny Benassi undergoing the Ludovico technique. 

Scott Mildenhall: Yes, but where is the song? There’s the makings of something exciting here, like the opening swarms of the Auto remix of Justice’ “Stress”, only without the payoff. It’s all set up for a faintly terrifying thrill-ride, but never leaves the driveway.

Iain Mew: Like “Flat Beat” reborn with a flourish as evil circus music. Compelling horror of the sort that you struggle to take in but can’t bear to step away from.

Edward Okulicz: A track like this proves that a strong, commanding vocal presence can make words you don’t understand at all come to life and be menacing and compelling, and Onuka makes it sound too easy. In fact, she faintly terrifies me, in a good way. I’d had enough of the actual music underneath her by 2:30 and then it stretches out for another two minutes. But that impression she makes is indelible enough that at least she compelled until the end, and then some.

Crystal Leww: At some point, I thought that the Kate Boy’s and Purity Ring’s of the world had worn out this kind of icy, pinging beat dance pop with vocal into the ground, but Onuka have taken it even further by removing any sense of humanity and especially femininity that either one of those artists had in their music and gone right for robot rock. This is made all the more compelling by the fact that the vocal here appears to be a woman, reminiscent of Kah-lo’s turn on “Rinse & Repeat” earlier this year, but darker, grimier, and more detached. A full album of this might be exhausting, but for three and a half minutes, this goes for the immediate impact at full speed and feels exhilarating, dangerous, terrifying.

Reader average: [8.75] (4 votes)

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3 Responses to “Onuka – Vidlik”

  1. I was gonna make some joke like “why aren’t they in Eurovision??” but the actual Ukraine entry is also awesome.

  2. also, the rest of the EP sounds nothing like this but I highly highly recommend it. the closing song “19 86” is devastating.

  3. Now they are in Eurovision!