Eastern Europe – It’s been very long weeks since Putin declared war on Ukraine. Both online and in the media, there has been a mix of cries for help, spreadsheets with refugee resources, memes and racism.
In Eastern Europe, with countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovenia bordering Ukraine, conflict seems dangerously close. People in the region are at their limit after two years of living in great uncertainty and mass deaths due to the gross mismanagement of the pandemic. For queer, disabled and neurodivergent people living in Eastern Europe, there is also the imminent and ever-present danger of a tight grip by far-right governments that is slowly eroding civil liberties.
In March 2021, an anonymous anarchist collective initiative calling itself eastbloc antifascist sound alliance was created as a way to support music creators in the region by creating an extensive network of care and collaboration. The main objective of the group is to fight for more visibility for artists from the region, often neglected by Western media and publications of the electronic music scene. Since then, the anti-fascist eastbloc sound alliance (‘eastbloc sound’ for short) has succeeded in bringing together a growing number of musicians, activists, writers and sound engineers.
While eastbloc members wish to remain anonymous, projects initiated by the collective such as eastbloc’s artist database, as well as their appearances on central European festival panels such as Lunchmeat and Simultan, have helped increase their membership and sparked discussion in the music community. media on discrimination and representation. They also run a Discord server open to anyone interested in joining the collective, as long as they agree with the group’s principles of non-hierarchical organization, member anonymity, and zero tolerance for any form of racism, of sexism, classism, queerphobia and discrimination. Hailing from various local scenes scattered around the world, members are encouraged to share their projects, ask for various types of support, read about anti-racist and decolonial thought, or simply socialize.
On February 24, the group’s Discord chat was inflamed with messages. Among the many posts sharing resources for refugees or trying to coordinate logistics, someone immediately suggested creating a compilation of benefits for Ukraine. The model was first called ‘NO TO WAR!‘ and later renamed “We are at the side of Ukraine”.
“Many of us feel lost, helpless or just plain scared,” shares an eastbloc sound participant. “Coming together to work on this project, suddenly there was something practical to focus on. A way to hopefully make a change using our creativity and maybe feeling a little less helpless” , they add. In addition to the group’s contributions, they also extended the invitation to other fellow musicians, online friends and friends of friends, as well as launching an open call on Twitter.
The project quickly garnered significant support, with over 50 tracks submitted for compilation. eastbloc has decided to keep all submissions. “Our approach was: all welcome, no curation! Most of the music we received came from people we already knew or artists we loved and admired like Miedo Total, Tony Renaissance, Gischt or buttechno. Of course, we worked on the sequencing to make the tracks flow well, but despite the open selection policy, we received an incredible amount of good to amazing music, with no hiccups. said another member. Closing the open submission file after a few days, they were still receiving messages from musicians eager to participate. “At some point we had to say stop, because everything had to be recorded, mastered and ready to be released. We held on as long as we could, but after a while we also have to release this thing haha », they added.
Many other Central European artists are also involved, with an array of contributions from Vienna’s young, eclectic and burgeoning electronic music scene (KUTIN, Gischt, Subtlevis, In My Talons, Tony Renaissance), with special thanks to Tanja Fuchs for inviting Murmler, Afghanistan Mon Amour, Sentic Cycle, Kenji Araki, Marie Vermont, Jakub Schermont, Dj D00msweat and Jens Vetter to contribute.
International contributions poured in from the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the US Midwest, with particular attention given to musicians from Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana , such as Ulla, Pontiac Streator, Special Guest DJ, Opheliaxz, Forest Management, Faithful, Dalibor Cruz, Hedra Rowan, EKSE and ELAZY.
There are also poetic vocal tracks such as Polish producer Mala Herba’s darkwave divinations in ‘Lilija’ and ‘LISHCHYNAc (AGF Remake) 2022’, a collaboration between East German producer and activist AGF and Ukrainian artist Zavoloka .
A large number of musicians created tracks exclusively for the compilation within days. There are club tracks like Medulasa’s cyper-EBM fantasy “Martial Horrors”, DJ D00msweat’s shrill gabber excursion “properHyped”, Moa Pillar’s ethereal drums and bass in “untitled” or the glitchy anthem. footwork from Sentic Cycle “Hornet”. Experimental offerings range from harsher raucous tracks like Kutin’s ‘Clusterfuck’ or Finnish techno legend Vladislav Delay’s carefully textured ‘Silencio’ to Forest Management’s bright ambient meditation ‘Lyric’.
Queer Vieenese artist Tony Renaissance has also donated his upcoming single “Ice Blue” to the compilation.
Polish performance artist Wojciech Kosma has also submitted an unreleased a cappella piece from his new musical project spalarnia. “It was written in reaction to the border crisis between Belarus and Poland, but perhaps it is even more acute now in the face of the difference in treatment between these refugees in Poland and the Ukrainians,” he said. added. Kosma said.
The compilation features talent from the highly underrepresented former territories of the Eastern Bloc like the Czech Republic (Oliver Torr, mʊdʌki), Hungary (asvanyviz2, MA’AM, Mike Nylons, Nemerov, SUTA, HEATDEATH1992), Poland (Ku Ku, Mala Herba, Mchy i porosty) or Romania (Miss Jay, ambient fuccboi).
Eastbloc members worked to find the best ways to get funds to Ukrainians, a process complicated by Bandcamp’s use of Paypal as a payment processor and its restricted functionality in Ukraine, which Ukrainian label Muscut called Pay attention to. While they don’t contribute music, others have donated their services, such as Hungarian-born American Justin Enoch mastering all 61 tracks, RP Polydoris making the press and the Hungarian studio Nufolklore making the artwork.
“We refuse these repugnant and criminal imperial wars across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. One day, these marginalized lands will stand together, and the bloody games of dominance can no longer destroy lives. NO TO WAR!” add another member.
The compilation was released today (March 24, 2022) via Bandcamp, featuring eastblocksound provide updates on donation proceeds via their Twitter account. According to Eastbloc, the funds raised will go to the Ukrainian queer feminist organization Bilkis (based in Kharkiv) as well as the Palestinian human rights and prisoners’ rights group Adameer.
eastbloc has also created a resource to provide direct financial support to Ukrainian musicians. Other benefit compilations are also raising funds for “support charities and NGOs that help Ukraine.”
One of the artists on the compilation is Polish queer artist Avtomat. He is known for his activist efforts, having contributed to previous relief compilations like Cut The Wire by Polish feminist collective Oramics, aimed at raising funds for refugees on the Polish-Belarusian border. His track Stop Bzdurom (The Bad Gays) became an anthem during protests against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Poland. In 2020, Avtomat himself was arrested during such a demonstration. For “We stand with Ukraine” he revisited an earlier project to rework traditional Ukrainian folk songs and voices recorded especially for the occasion.
Andra Nikolayi is a writer, journalist and musician based in Romania.