Svjata Vatra at Budapest Ritmo 2016 review by Tamas Galgoczi

As to the first performer on the second day of Budapest Ritmo, it had fallen upon the Estonian-Ukrainian band Svjata Vatra to properly warm up the audience, and prepare them for taking in the fantastic world music medley that followed. In my opinion, they managed to complete this task with success, as their folk-rock music (topped by fantastic visuals and high energy) took the audience by storm.
The Ukrainian frontman, Thochynskyi plays on a scythe (!) and a trombone, sings in the rest of his time, and, of course, draws everyone attention with his rocker bravado. I say rock, but let me put it in quotes, as neither the accordion nor the pipe/recorder do not replace the solo guitar – in other words, it can be heard even from the instrumentation, that some interesting fusion is at play here.

As I have mentioned in my concert review, their music sounds as if they would play original folk songs with rock orchestration using folk instruments – and atmosphere-wise they are a really happy and life-affirming bunch. Their song, ”Pane mind polema” was a great start, especially with the guest vocals of Lea Dali Lion, because it is quite dynamic, however, the mellow trombone line offers a perfect counterpoint to its quick tempo. But it serves only as an introduction, since Svjata Vatra’s music kicks into full gear only during the second track, ”Kalyna malyna”, which is a fully realized folk song that features the trademark sound of the band.

It is not easy to name my three favourite songs, but it is not impossible either, since the bewilderment of “Hej Sokoly” is quite memorable, which is amplified even more by the subdued vocal line. “Koljadka, Raduisja, Zemle!” also deserves praise due to its strong bass line and its hymn-like vocals. And last but not least, I have to mention “Susidka”, this vaudevillian song that showcases a different side of the musicians, and features a cathartic ending.

Tamas Galgoczi, eKultura (HU) 2016

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