Mark and Marichka Marczyk return with their unique brand of Ukrainian electronic ethno-bass, alongside real-life screen footage from the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. Tonight is the duo’s first London show, where they sing live to original EDM and trance trap tunes, whilst evoking solidarity with the crowd.
The music is taken from the couple’s debut album Fly, and also used in their interactive theatre production Counting Sheep, currently on at Vault Festival. Be Like This starts the set, Mark playing the violin behind a stack of grey cinder blocks. The audience are initially restrained, but as the performance progresses, they become livelier. Boom Boom, one of the band’s softer tunes, incorporates a gentle xylophone sound from the electronic pads. The accompanying cartoons provide a little insight into the harsh realities of the Ukrainian revolution, presenting contrasting scenes of innocent animation juxtaposed with bazookas and soldiers training in army barracks.
But You tells the emotional story of a soldier who awaits the birth of his child, multi-instrumentalist Mark beating a large drum – across which “HEY!” is written – while ethnomusicologist Marichka’s expressive vocals sweep the audience into a saddened world of violence and conflict. Delivering a highlight remix of Nobody from Counting Sheep, the band’s performance offers angry cries of protest and fortitude against a backdrop of falling missiles, the thundering build-up proof of the duo’s skilful composition. Night Vision packs solid beats as the venue plunges into darkness, submarine sounds and green radar images appearing on screen. The pair follow this with a surprise rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, passionate and resilient. As the crowd cheer for one more song, Bring Him Back leaves us with a last reminder of the sorrows of war.
The music of Balaklava Blues would have been even more appreciated if the lyrics were translated into English, but their show nevertheless stands strong due to the couple’s ability to create compositions that transcend language, exuding feelings of camaraderie and determination. Mark provides a little context: “We wanted something where we could express and fight, and figure out together.” On the choice of their moniker, he remarks, “blues is one of the oldest forms of music”, and “drawing power out of sadness, telling a story that has affected us in some way or some kind of trauma, turning that into empowerment, a lot of that is what traditional Ukrainian music is.”
Balaklava Blues is at the Forge from 25th January until 16th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the show’s festival page here.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.