Monday, April 9, 2007

A little music history

Easter is one of those moments for family and friends to gather. Due to a small force major incident last Thursday I couldn't travel to my father's village to spend time with my cousin, his family and my godson. As a consolation I spent Easter with my business partner and someone who has become a good friend over the last months. After watching an interview with the Singing Rector, we channel surfed a little to stumbled across a Channel 5 broadcast of Vasyl Ilashchuk's documentary about Volodymyr Ivasyuk, composer and author of Chervona Ruta.

While watching this documentary we ushered back in time a little. After it was over, it was my business partner's idea to continue the historical journey and he put pulled out some old VHS cassettes. The first one he put on were early videos of Vatra that were recorded in L'viv in the early 1980s, a group in which he was a member of. Vatra, headed by Ihor Bilozir, former husband of Oksana Bilozir, and who was attacked by russophiles in L'viv and subsequently died in 2000.  It was quite a difference to see the streets, which were almost devoid of any vehicular traffic, compared to what is it has become over 20 years later.

My business partner had explained to me a number of times how in 1984 he along with others were looking for a new sound. As a result they went on to form Zhayvir based out of Rivne, and while some Ukrainian sites note that maybe this wasn't the best place to start something up as experimental as they were at the time they don't go on to look at just how conservative people in the FSU were at the time. After watching the Vatra videos, we put on a CD of Zhayvir. As we went through the tracks I came across a song, that in its arrangement sounded very familiar. It was Ivanku, Ivanku!  The last time I heard a similar arrangement was on Tamara Gorsky's album Vatra.  I stopped to wonder where Tamra Gorsky had first heard that arrangement, could it have been Zhayvir?


  1. It would be nice to make these videos available online to give a visual side of the story as well... Soon a recording of Bilozir's requiem concert will be available for viewing on youtube, which includes many backstage interviews. One of them is with Taras Chubaj, where he talks about his adolescence and coming to rehearsals of Vatra with his father. Now, here is the interesting thing, he says that Bilozir never graduated from the conservatory, however one of the projects he intended to work on was a first Ukrainian rock opera following that of Pink Floyd, also called "Stina / The Wall." According to Internet sources R. Shtyn is credited for completing this later on along with other musicians, but it's a bit confusing, because had Bilozir been the original initiator of that project it shows that he had an interest in working on development of the traditional sound of ukrainian music. Perhaps there were other circumstances as to why Zhaivir was created and Bilozir did not complete the rock-opera, besides the different views on their styles. Anyhow, if this was a collaboration of both composers, than they never really split :)

  2. Kasia, thanks for the comments.

    I will look into the copyright issues on the videos I mentioned.

    Rostyslav Shtyn, has many times mentioned Stina / The Wall in conversation. I will try to find out more details on this and post appropriately.

    That Easter Sunday when we were watching those videos, Rostyslav had mentioned that during the time of Vatra there were often non-Ukrainian friendly type KGB characters starting to shadow Ihor Bilozir.

    It would not surprise me if he didn't finish the conservatory, but I will also check on this.

    Rostyslav told me that Zhaivir
    was created in order to move away from the traditional musical arrangements and from the conservatism which was so prevalent at the time. In fact they were ostracized for their arrangement of Ivanku, Ivanku and as a result they were not sanctioned to perform by the conservative individuals who had control over the concert halls at the time.

    Hopefully, once we have Danapro Radio up and running I will conduct a few interviews with different people in order to shed some light on this interesting period of contemporary music development.

  3. thanks a lot. wow april 16th - my lucky number, coincidence? so luck be with the (c)s and no issues. holding my breath! also the "Nash prapor" by Opalnyj Prinz is nowhere to be found... but loony pelen's page is up and working!

    1. Nash prapor has been available on YouTube for some time now... Though given the over eight years since this post, you have probably found it already!

  4. Regarding Nash Prapor you can find OP's materials were put out as part of Lehendy Ukrainskoho Roku on the Atlantic label, as is the Loony Pelen.

    While I am glad that Vlad DeBriansky is in the USA and doing well; however, it seems to me that he is taking liberty of PRing himself as being key to Loony Pelen. True his voice added a particular and qualitative element he must remember that the copyright of this material belongs to Yuriy Shtyn.

  5. Being in U.S. there are not many places to buy the CD, but I mostly use or, the latter being a more direct and faster way of quenching thirst for fresh tunes. I downloaded The OP album as soon as I learned of it’s existence, however the web site does not include the video, so I will order the physical copy from the online store. There are other songs mentioned in the group’s Wikipedia Page that you must have access to : ) (Леонід Брежнєв, Чорна Діра, Паскуда, Мандри, Шантрапа, Танкова Атака, Предположим( рос.) - (знаю, знаю, але наглість друге щастя); they must be as powerful as the official releases on the “Нова Революція” album. So hopefully there will be a complete collection release one day…

    As for DeBriansky, I don’t think he is the one administrating the Loony Pelen’s page, unless its like a cheesy joke from old movies when someone calls up a detective and they disguise their voice to pretend like their own secretary! Anyhow, антиреклама, теж реклама, so wherever be mentions his affiliation to the band he brings it good reputation. So I copy / pasted my understanding of the band in my head and used this sloppy image to figure out the people behind the sound in my headphones… hm, lets see

    Current Mood: Obsessed, то всьо той AMOK… амо-о-ок.

  6. Kasia,

    Interesting that Kucherpa mentions Stelmakh and Stina, and that the comments regarding Ihor Bilozir mentioned that he never completed the Conservatory.

    We have to remember that the conservatism that ran rampant and still does in much of the music industry in Ukraine. There are always people who are ready to discredit Ukrainians, even other Ukrainians...

    Regarding the Vatra performance it seems like this is the reincarnation after Ihor's death. This is another problem that exists and some people just don't understand... The Vatra that existed with Ihor Bilozir at its head, will never be again...

    It may be a lame example, but Queen will never be the same without Freddie Mercury.