He was a prominent figure in Ukrainian underground music, but little of his music ever officially saw the light of day. Jakub Knera investigates Oleksandr Yurchenko, who created peculiar compositions on self-made instruments.
In Ukraine, next to Kyiv in terms of creativity was Kharkiv, whose highly active and diverse music scene began to flourish at the beginning of the 90s, although this was often undocumented, as it was not easy in relative terms. (Music was recorded ‘by request’ in recording kiosks and similar ‘studios’ of varying degrees of legality and equipment quality. Beforehand rock had been seen as officially unacceptable in the city; judged revolutionary, Western, and standing in opposition to the Communist system.
The Novaya Scena phenomenon quickly spread to other cities and became a term by which artists were searched for in the early 1990s. A significant achievement in the early 90s was several independent German labels issuing Novaya Scena compilations. New Scene: Underground From Ukraine! 14 Bands From Kyiv & Kharkiv and Ukrainischer Underground capture a fertile period between 1989 and 1991, featuring aggressive and uncompromising music, close to the New York No Wave sound. Thanks to these releases some English-speaking listeners learned the phrase Novaya Scena and it became a generic term for Ukrainian independent music of the 90s.
One of the artists who was constantly active in this network of underground bands was Oleksandr Yurchenko, a Ukrainian musician and illustrator, who functioned between Kharkiv and Kyiv and, from the 1990s and co-founded bands such as Yarn, Merta Zara, Elektryky, Kvitchala v Serpni, Radiodello, Suphina Dentata, Suphina’s Little Beasts and Blemish (many of whom have been re-released by Bloomed In September Tapes in recent years). His works include cheerful indie rock and multi-layered avant garde experiments. His genres include synth pop, industrial, post rock, ambient, funk, dark folk, and improvisational modal music using synthesizers, electric viola, and homemade instruments. He was one of the most important figures from this scene, yet the most mysterious.