Katarina Gryvul “Tysha”

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On Ukrainian-born, Austria-based artist Katarina Gryvul’s second album, Tysha, planets are broken to pieces to be reassembled into imaginative, intricate landscapes. Gryvul’s use of acoustic instruments and electronic processing creates an expansive palette where no sound is out of reach. Her vision and boundless skill as a composer are the glue that finds new, beautiful ways to connect this sprawling web of sonic ideas.

Opening with the title track, electric leaves fall in repeating patterns before cataclysmic rhythms overwhelm all the senses. It’s jarring, but enticing, too. The harp-like flutters return, coloring the space between bass hits with an ephemeral elegance. Breathy, processed vocals beam in like shards of light as “Tysha” teeters on the edge of beauty and chaos. Strings build the drama to a feverish pitch before everything dissipates like smoke into the distance. What an incredible, powerful statement to open the album.

Repeating layers of vocal melodies center standout “Vidsutni,” building in emotive strength as electronic whirrs and deep bass drones suck up all the oxygen. There’s a pleading undercurrent rife with incandescent emotion and stoic determination woven throughout each phrasing. It’s powerful and mesmerizing. When the instrumentation is pulled back, it leaves only Gryvul’s voice balancing on a silver thread where she rockets back into the fray as growling rhythms plod ahead undeterred. 

Gryvul’s voice is an all-powerful entity protecting an entire civilization from brazen outside forces. So many aspects of Tysha have the feeling of preservation and finding refuge. Caustic soundscapes lined with harsh edges continually search for ways to breach the inner sanctum, but Gryvul’s use of ghostly melodies and lilting instrumentation acts as a shield. These soft, shapeshifting resonances are impenetrable and always buoyed by Gryvul’s magical voice. “Ruyina” flits between funereal ruminations and seismic oscillating patterns, but drifting, wordless expressions tie it together with black ribbon.

Tysha is spectacular in the way it shifts and drifts around this central feeling of uncertainty situated at the precipice of this current moment. Gryvul’s music grapples with these dark clouds and scattered moments by pushing into them headfirst. When bass pulses drive the static and glitched-out arpeggios of “Porozhn’o” high into the atmosphere, Gryvul’s voice pierces through like a beacon. She does it on nearly every song and it never stops being entrancing. It is the light at the end of the tunnel, the way forward. Tysha ends with a blurred whisper ready to face the long night again. Stunning.

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