Friday, April 29th, 2022

Go_A – Kalyna

“A power that brings immortality and can unite generations to fight evil”


Leah Isobel: “Kalyna” feels both animated and undone by its own futility in the face of war; its instrumental builds threaten a catharsis that never quite comes, despite the song’s chugging, foreboding momentum. How do I even score this?

Jessica Doyle: The song explicitly rejects pity (if asked, Go_A would probably prefer ammunition to a ride, too) so let’s not give it any, and instead evaluate it from the perspective of a hypothetical 2030 independent Ukraine in the midst of a messy, suboptimal, peaceful rebuild. (Fingers crossed.) “Kalyna” will still have life then, especially in the remixes; it likely works best when stretched out and treated more meditatively, with Kateryna Pavlenko’s voice able to rouse the clubgoers from their trances, instead of coming on with insufficient buildup. It’s not Go_A’s Guernica, but that’s too much to ask of any one song — it’s more a song of resolve than of terror, which will give it a longer afterlife, and makes me feel a little more hopeful for that afterlife.

Alfred Soto: Hip to its thumping confidence if not thumping arrogance, I blasted “Kalyna” twice without knowing a jot about their origins — and that still doesn’t matter insofar as the beats and multitracked voices bespeak universal applicability, i.e. dancing. 

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Ambrosial, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-raising, arena-stadium-rock; flute-powered Ukrainian alchemy, only further heightened by the nightmarish zeitgeist.

Will Adams: Foolish of me to doubt even for a second if the Go_A formula would work without someone mashing on the accelerator. Of course it does! This strain of aggressive, pulsing trance-rock — evoked by PVRIS, early MUNA and Haloo Helsinki, among others — is practically hardwired into my brain as an endorphin-producer, and Kateryna Pavlenko’s steely vocal in the face of Ukraine’s current plight makes “Kalyna” all the more compelling.

Scott Mildenhall: The legendary intensity of “SHUM” comes into even sharper relief. Vital, urgent and exhortative, “Kalyna” is as compelling as intended.

Ian Mathers: God, I wish my primary association with this band was still Eurovision. I don’t think the speed-up-and-stop thing with “SHUM” was a gimmick or anything, so I’m unsurprised that even beyond any other considerations this just works really well as a song — the goth techno music of my early years but more genuinely folk-inflected, I guess. Plus now I know that the fruit of the viburnum opulus shrub, called kalyna in Ukranian and kalina in Russian, is an important cultural symbol in both countries. And if, even after you look up the translation, it sounds a bit like a curse being either lamented or laid, well…

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One Response to “Go_A – Kalyna”

  1. “How do I even score this?”

    It’s a piece of music, you can score it with as much ease or difficulty as any other piece of music.

    Music doesn’t stop being music because it has an “important” theme. Or, what Alfred said.