In Poland, within a span of 48 hours, independent artists created a compilation album to express their solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Independent PL To Independent UA ''was a spontaneous reaction", the makers say. Read about it.
PL2UA compilation album cover
PL2UA is a unique compilation. It was conceived within 48 hours by 93 artists - mostly Poles but also Slovaks, Ukrainians and multicultural bands. ''An intimate group of 10 friends turned into a 300 people project" – one of the makers announced. Each of the musicians either recorded something new for the occasion or released something previously unpublished and made it available digitally.
The compilation is available for a minimum of 10 zlotys, and each song for 3 zlotys (approximately US$3/€2.40/£2 and US$1/€0.70/£0.60, respectively), but the artists suggest people pay what they want. The profits from the sale of the album go to the Open Dialog Foundation, a humanitarian organisation helping Ukrainian citizens. One of the PL2UA project leaders explains the difference between passively standing by and helping,
I was tired of seeing people posting YouTube videos from the streets of Kiev, changing their profile pictures, "liking", or commenting "masakra" (loosely translated as ''what a mess''). That's all very nice but it won't make the situation better for anyone. What is needed is for people to take action, a real change is needed, one that could bring something good, and I hope that this compilation album will do just that.
The tracklist is composed of pieces by 93 artists, representing an array of music genres on PL2UA: masters of improvisation, producers of danceable electronic music, new techno wave reps, hermetic ambient, post-punk, post-rock, noise, amongst others. But the album isn't about the plethora of genres, PL2UA is a reaction to the deaths of people who lost their lives standing up for their inviolable rights.
Bernatka overpass for pedestrians on the Vistula river lit in a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine, Kraków, 21 February 2014, photo: Beata Zawrzel / Reporter / East News
I got in touch with the musicians who took part in PL2UA to ask them what it felt like to record in a hurry and support the victims of Ukraine's protests not only symbolically but financially. What did it remind them of, what did the work look like? The order of the answers mirrors the order of the tracks on the album.
Lutto Lento – No title
I created this song yesterday, very quickly, under a tide of emotions, using some dog and donkey teeth which I once found in some allotment gardens. And a couple of human teeth, they make a horrid noise, and the situation in Ukraine is horrid as well. I recorded the squeaking old floor in my flatmates room and I added a terrifying cassette player loop* which I once blindly cut out, I didn't want it to grow or diminish in the piece, I wanted it to just be an unvarying and disturbing repetitive voice.
[* a cassette loop is a recurring excerpt from an audio tape lasting a few seconds]
RSS B0YS – OOKRN NOW
000R M00SYK TLLS VRYTHNG. THAT'S OUR LITTLE TANK WHICH BRINGS HELP TO THOSE WHO NEED IT. THE TANK IS MADE OUT OF WOOD AND IT'S WARM. THE DIVISION DOESN'T USE R0UNDS OR PR0JECTILE. ALTHOUGH, LET'S BE HONEST, THERE ARE SOME YOU WOULD WANT TO CRUSH. WE BELIEVE THAT MUSIC WHICH DEMOLISHES OBSTACLES CAN BE MADE. IN A PHYSICAL WAY. RSS B0YS & GYRLS FIGHT WITH EVERY KIND OF DISCRIMINATION, THIS IS A PROJECT EXPLICITLY CREATED FOR THAT PURPOSE. MUSIC IS MERELY A TOOL. ONE OF THE STRONGEST.
cétieu – Kiev on Fire
It's important that we know how to come together in times of need. We are collecting money for those who need it now, which is real material help, but I don't agree that sharing YouTube videos on Facebook is an empty gesture by Internet users – people are showing Ukraine their love - support, which is not that easy to find these days. I hope that this compilation gives strength to young Ukrainians and to us as well who every day crave to experience honest human interest in something more than ourselves. We long to be with others.
I added a rather experimental noise music-like drone changing back and forth. It's light but simultaneously sharp as a razor blade, raw. I called the piece ''Kiev on Fire''. When recording I imagined myself walking through Maidan square, in slow motion, as if frame by frame. I saw fire, death, everything was blurred and dreamlike.
Wilhelm Bras – Smoke and Mirrors, Support Ukraine
I'm afraid everyone's emotions are shared and similar. Half my family comes from the Kresy [or Eastern Borderlands - former territory of the eastern provinces of Poland - editor's comment] and if history had gone even a bit differently, I could be the one lying there dead. On the pavement in the centre of a European city, in a Uvex helmet and with a ladle in the role of a siege weapon. It's happening so close to us, so close, so close, and it could happen here too. Maybe not tomorrow, but who known what can happen in 15 years.
Heathertoes – спасибі
Heathertoes is my attempt at bringing together all the music experiences I have gathered with improvisation/drone/noise, and now that I am going in the direction of composition, I am trying to merge everything (plus glitch). In the composition for the album I used pieces of music of a pre-World War I lyre player by the name of Mironenko. It's a rather hauntological journey back in time, corroded with defects, which after a while turns into an unexpectedly severed ambient. What inspired me, apart from the direct reports from Kiev, were a couple of my own reflections about being European. The idea of the European community promoted by the EU is complete fiction, the feeling of disillusionment with politics and people who allow themselves to be manipulated, that's the carcass of my piece.
Jacek Staniszewski – Pisnia
Despite the relative cultural proximity, we know relatively little of the Ukrainians. Apart from the fact that Miss Oksana who cleans our houses is a very good worker and that every Miss Oksana's husband is an alcoholic. I think that in a situation in which neo-imperial post-Soviet statehood is constantly building dependence in its former Republics and neighbouring countries on various levels, we have to support every form of separatism and sovereignty.
Of course, victims and the spirit were talked about, perhaps even too much. For me these issues are elementary. From human to human I have compassion, but you can't talk to criminals by lying down on the ground in front of a BTR vehicle [post-Soviet military armoured personnel carriers - author's explanation] with a wreath of flowers in your hand, and Ukrainians showed that very clearly.
The end of the piece is a recording of a song by an elderly lady from Maidan which I recorded from headphones streaming from one laptop to the inside microphone of another.
Maciek Szymczuk – Hotel Ukraina
I am a person who was granted (or cursed) with a lot of empathy and I am always very touched by the misfortunes of other people. I can't save the world with my action, but maybe I can contribute to the well-being of at least one person.
GAAP KVLT – Kiou
The piece was made within less than an hour. I wanted to act quickly, quick reactions are significant in such moments.
Electric Whispers – Karma
Evil always comes back. But so does good... peace!
Owls Are Not – Day 3 (v.21.02.)
What happened in Ukraine over the past months not only requires our help and solidarity, but also admiration and imitation. The Ukrainians are fighting the crushing domination from the bottom up, themselves, without letting the media and politicians manipulate them. I feel that PL2UA works the same way. On a musical level, our piece bases on constant uncertainty, it discards well-known and tested forms. So on the aesthetic level it grapples with the same thing that Ukrainians are fighting with on the political level. For all of us - I am referring to not only musicians and producers - it's very important that they succeed.
Andruchoov – Blue Sky Over Yellow Wheat Field
History should bring people together, not divide them. It should give hints about what to avoid and how to look for common denominators, to build "here"and "now". [...] We have a lot in common with Ukraine and I'm happy that a lot of people understand this. I think that everyone who gave their work and artistic message here for free is searching for that common denominator, which surely is freedom and respect for oneself.
Author: Filip Lech, translated and edited by Mai J 24.02.2014