Malo — Yak ye (2018)

He’s "just a fool": he doesn’t want to earn money with Bitcoin, to sniff coke, to live in the city center, to visit Closer parties, to hear from Zabuzhko or Andrukhovych – these are parts from a joke-song, the one Malo plays live only. Seems like it’s a particle of Ivasyuk’s 70’s estrade, compacted to the guitar and voice. So what? Good things have small beginnings.

On the 14th of November, 2018 the 32-years old Maksym Rooban, first-generation Kyiv’s citizen, the son of journalist and philologist, the graduator of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, released his debut album "Як є" ("As it is") under the name "Malo" ("Little"). The record was done with one old-school take thanks to Dmytro Ostroushko and Happy Records studio.

Maksym has written for the drawer for a long time, but following his father’s advice decided to send his demos to Ihor Opanasov, the chief editor of Karabas Live, who answered with praise. From the moment of the release he played at least 5 shows and on the 19th of January, he gave his solo concert in the SHOOM music studio, for which Maksym asked visitors to take warm socks on because the place requires taking the shoes off. He got few radio shows, in particular, at the Oldfashioned Radio with hosts Ivan Semesyuk and Albert Tsukrenko, gathered favorable opinions from such resources as The Village Ukraine, Karabas Live, Novoye Vremya and appeared among the best songs of 2018. In this review, we’re trying to observe a sudden appearance of the songwriter in the informational space and to answer the question: why there are so many opinions about Malo? We have no reasons for long descriptions of the technical or producing decisions: minimalistic folk, guitar, and voice. The album emphasis is placed on the lyric, so we will try to show its uniqueness.

The first song holds all the attention on the dialectic pronunciation, similar to the regional Poltavian accent. The voice’s melody is catchy. The technical work on recording, mixing, and mastering is noticeable right away: the intonation is clear, the compression is beneficial, the volume is normal. It’s a comfortable background for the talented approach, intelligent lyrics and the aesthetic suitable to Zeitgeist.

The timbre of the voice is lower than the classic songwriters’ one, I mean Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley or Jackson C. Frank, and reminds more Elliott Smith’s and Iron & Wine’s. More precise, though "pop", comparison — Jason Mraz and his hit "I’m Yours". The power of simple words and touchy positive call reminds Alexi Murdoch with his "Orange Sky". 

The recording itself sounds similar to the acoustic demos of George Harrison from the album "All Things Must Pass", though the sound is brighter, without analog color, because of the intervention of new generation of equipment, that gives the record more accuracy, sonic honesty. That is, the third Beatle’s vocal is warmer and more sharply equalized on highs; Malo has a complete frequency range, so it gives more presence in the mix, transparency if you listen on studio monitors. On average sound systems, the sound is more than comfort in high frequencies.

Similar Ukrainian artist — Sasha Boole, has already released his vinyl. Boole supports the image of a folk guitarist with a mouth organ, which is, actually, enough to take him for the Dylan-from-the-neighborhood. But Malo is different because all of his naked soul themes are in the eye, he has nothing to hide behind the sunglasses, the existence of his songs obscures the artist so much, that the singer disappears behind them and there’s nothing left, except music. But when there’s nothing, why not to make just a beautiful wrap? And it’s nice: the profile pictures with, as if, young beatnik on the country house’s porch, a video with the guitar of Elvis’ times (a similar one is used by the rockabilly band "Ruki'v Bryuki" don’t leave Facebook’s esthetes indifferent.

Let’s go to the lyrics. Almost every song is about love. It’s that classic, well-working recipe of Beatles of Elvis who made the name of it, isn’t it? But, Maksym doesn’t have such, let’s say, cliché, as words “I love you”. In return, there’s a true and thin (as English say, “subtle”) sincerity of feelings. When from every Bluetooth speaker masculine bandit beats, along to hi-hats, poured as 32nd notes, watch average female listener, the music of Malo “blooms as a rose in our souls” (The quote from song "Весна" ("Spring").

Phrases have aesthetic intonations. There are moments when lyrics are underlined by pronunciation, that reveals goosebumps of compassion. Such phrases as "…and will torture me all night long", "…don't listen to them, fly", "…and Munch’s kisses", "I have no chances", "…with whom I would be me — a joyful, stylish", "Ayu-Dag, you’re my sun"… "…no need" explode with a variety of feelings and retain. These are exactly the hooks to catch a listener, recommended by songwriting teachers around the world.

"I will betray my Motherland" sounds not as a true statement; it’s all about the whole song "17 years old French girl", it’s accepted more like a fruit of imagination, than as a felt experience. At least, it drowns us into the crowd of noisy Paris street. 

Why do we need this music nowadays?

Before committing the suicide, Mykola Khvylovy left his last words on the paper: "The arrest of Yalovyi is the shooting of the whole Generation… For what? For being the sincerest communists? I have nothing to understand. First of all, me, Mykola Khvylovy is responsible for the Yalovyi’s Generation…"

After more than 90 years Mykhailo Yalovyi (pseudo – Yulian Shpol) throws the shackles off and resurrects accompanied by Maksym Rooban. Those days in Kharkiv based house Slovo, where writers lived, Mykola Khvylovy, the nearest friend of Yalovyi, often enjoyed playing guitar for guests, even in the night of committing suicide. Using lyrics of repressed authors, the first convict of the Executed Renaissance (Yulian Shpol, song "Spring" and "Crimean Lyric") and panfuturist Mykhaylo Semenko (song “Shut the window”) is a needed sign of respect to writers, moreover, music opens poetry on few layers of deepness. Song “Spring” has a mood of sincere revelation, a secret massage to a dearest friend, even a testament, the theme of Prometheus takes place. Maybe, Crimean Tatars would cry of sighs “Ayu Dah” in “Crimean Lyric”. These poems are exceptions among futuristic geniuses of both writers.

So, who is Maksym Rooban?

New bard, singer-songwriter, minstrel of the aesthetic, stylish, art generation, which is hiding under visual bombs in Instagram at the daytime, but at nights – falls in love, grows melancholy, disquiets, or, if the fate is merciful, walks through the night Podil holding someone’s arm and handling a balancing bottle of wine. His hero is a Lovelace, Maupassant’s Du Roy, though, even Stepan Radchenko from the first Ukrainian urbanistic novel, "City" by Pidmohylny. His lyric — her majesty, poetry, for analysis of which from time to time one needs an explanatory dictionary.

The opinions expressed in the reviews convey the views of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of

Malo in social networks: ©

1. Зі Стихій
2. Фазенда
3. Її Осло Манило
4. Закохані Злодії
5. 17-річна Француженка
6. Мар'яна Ханенко
7. Халмі
8. Весна
9. Кримська Лірика
10. Затули Вікно
11. Іспанські Серенади