Friday, July 28th, 2017

ONUKA – Vsesvit

We close our high-scoring day with our Ukrainian folk chums.

Katie Gill: Like many of us I’d imagine, I fell in love with ONUKA during the amazing interval act of 2017 Eurovision. So imagine my surprise when I queue this up and it’s…oddly light? This is certainly lighter and happier than I was expecting, with my limited ONUKA exposure. Annoyingly, it’s also less weird. Still, I can’t fully hate it. All the disparate elements pulling together around the three minute mark make the song from something expected to a beautiful cacophony of sound. And whatever synth is making that flute noise throughout the background is a beautifully off-kilter effect, separating this song from the middle of the pack.

Alfred Soto: A beautiful arrangement, particularly the use of bandura, distinguishes this track. Its patient accumulation of detail and restrained goth touches call to mind Vespertine-era Björk.

Anaïs Escobar Mathers: I kept hearing how much I would love the interval act that ONUKA did for this year’s Eurovision so I watched it on YouTube and was appropriately blown away. The folk instruments, the vocals, this was extremely my kind of thing; which is why I’m so underwhelmed by ONUKA’s new single. It feels very safe, like they’re dipping their toes into world music but then there’s less of the folk element and the interesting vocals which really made them stand out. It’s not a bad song, it’s just not that great.

Will Adams: It’s the euphoric breakdown from last year’s “19 86,” a song about looking forward after a tragedy (in that song’s case, a nuclear one), spun out into a song length high. Sustaining that level of optimism over four minutes could be a tough job, but when Nata Zhizhchenko sings “it’s not our last flight” as ornamental figures rise up in the arrangement like a castle materializing among the clouds, it’s glorious. Though ONUKA might be better known for introspection via dark electro, “Vsesvit” shows they can just as magnificently soar into the sky.

Ian Mathers: The most interesting bit here is the voice/string (both?) sample that both anchors the slow build of this track and winds up kind of providing the most earworm-y melody in it? The lyrics seem a bit platitudinous in both content and delivery, but every time you’ve got those little shrieky sounds in the background, this is basically compelling (maybe especially because of how stately and/or ponderous the rest is).

Edward Okulicz: Organ, strings and euphoria make for a heady cocktail, and that’s enough to carry this song. But more than that, Nata Zhizhchenko’s voice is wonderful — revelling in the warmth of the arrangement, poking in and out of the mix, and never sounding anything less than great. It’s coming out of winter here, the sun is starting to encroach on my world again, and as my thoughts turn to refreshing, replanning, rebirth, this is a magnificent soundtrack to plotting out and living those possibilities.

Cassy Gress: After Eurovision, I went and gave Vidlik a listen, and then listened again, and again and again and again. “Vsesvit” is Vidlik stepping out of the rubble and ash into the blinding sunshine; you squint and blink and shade your eyes, and then feel the heat prickling your skin, and you’re grinning without even realizing it.

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