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  • Review by Faye Coulman


...An audience with White Ward

“What if the supposed ‘insane’ simply see the world in their own unique way? What if you can find love, compassion, empathy and kindness somewhere deep inside those shattered minds?” muses guitarist Sergii Dariyenko on the damaged and much-demonised psychologies that play an integral role in fuelling White Ward’s own blackened, fluidly experimental craft. With their mind-bending fusion of craggy tremolo, gilded acoustics and luscious flurries of progressive jazz, these Ukrainian innovators can identify all too readily with the misfits, raving lunatics and lost souls that occupy the darkest corners of human society.

“White Ward stands for the rooms in asylum, suited well to preserve the world outside from the harm lunatics can cause to it,” Sergii expands. “But are those insane in the right place, treated as they should be? The very act of thinking differently scares people who are bound to their definition of normality, building the world around them to their own accord. These people think that seeing butterflies while crossing the road, or hearing things, seeing things – these are facts that endanger the normal flow of things, ruin their habits and so on. They decide these abnormal guys are too strange to live in this world and sentence them to stay inside those strongholds. But what if this world, rotten, greedy, built around consumption and neglect, is not suited for them?”

Treading the notoriously fine line between genius and abject lunacy, such fearlessly original thinking has long been famed for engineering some of history’s most seismic shifts in human culture, art and technology. First conceived out of guitarist Yurii Kazaryan’s insatiable appetite for eclectic and darkly atmospheric audio, the search for similarly imaginative souls to help bring his vision to fruition soon began. Having enlisted the hugely versatile talents of sticksman Yurii Kononov in the early stages of the band’s inception, bassist Andrii Pechatkin later joined the fold in 2014. But, following a fruitlessly prolonged search for a permanent saxophonist, it would be a full year before Yurii finally chanced upon a musician ideally suited to the task.

Andrii explains, “The guys always had an idea to add some jazzy vibes into the desperate blackened atmosphere of White Ward, so a new problem occurred: the lack of a reliable saxophonist. There are lots of students in local musical academies who know what to do with the saxophone, but black metal scares them to the extent when they don’t even want to talk to you, let alone speak about playing your ‘terrible’ music. Luckily, a year of searching wasn’t futile. Accidentally, I discovered that one of my social network friends, who previously ruled in a doom metal band Tectum, played saxophone quite well. Thus, I asked Alexey to join the band and provided him with the demos of ‘Futility Report’. He enjoyed the material and became a member of the team.”

But for all the instinctive chemistry of this uniquely likeminded collective, the brimstone-scorched visions that abound from every conceivable inch of debut long-player ‘Futility Report’ stem from some of the most deeply personal imaginings of founder Yurii Kazaryan. Owing no small inspirational debt to the lavishly crafted writings of renowned horror legend H.P. Lovecraft, these timeless, ink-black yarns of isolation, insanity and bloodcurdling terror elevate this meticulously crafted debut to fresh heights of atmospheric listening.

“It's true that the work of Howard Lovecraft has influenced me quite strongly,” Yurii concurs. “It's actually reflected in the kind of atmosphere I wanted to convey, at least partially, in music. When I was reading Lovecraft's works, such vivid images appeared in my head that I can describe them as a kind of a movie that was projected by the brain on the os frontale of my skull. And this movie was nothing else but a mystical noir thriller. That's how I could describe the atmosphere of our album, and this should be the kind of movie that a listener could see while playing this record. Madness, obscure and horrifying images, merging reality with illusion, ‘creeping horror’, mystery and other dark things. Lovecraft’s creativity has settled deeply in me, and I am sure that in the future I will approach his world again when I create something.”

Having been most recently been priming these frostbitten and fluidly instinctive compositions in eager anticipation of their very first round of European tour dates, September sees the Ukrainians striving to create the most hauntingly immersive live experience possible. On the continual honing and perfecting of their curiously mesmeric craft, Kazaryan remarks, “We wanted to become a full-time live band for so long, and finally we have achieved this. We want the live performances to be an essential part of White Ward. We will try and do everything to improve the band's appearance on stage, to improve the level of performance, the visuals, the presentation and other aspects. We want it to be more than just an ordinary live band performance; we want people attending our shows to be enshrouded deep into the atmosphere and to feel really connected with the music. In the upcoming dates our saxophonist Alexii is most likely to perform with us, and we would like to improvise here and there, since we have quite a few moments where improvisation seems to be appropriate. Of course, it takes time, diligence and experience, but we are determined to improve constantly.”

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