Album artwork for 13th District

13th District V

Release date: May 21, 2012
Cat No: NEK 05
Barcode: 880319565014
NEK 05
V’s take on house music comes at the listener from an outsider’s perspective, as his native Ukraine traditionally hasn’t been a hotbed of this genre. Consequently, his new album on Nuearth Kitchen, 13th District, hits your ears at an odd angle, as V (aka Vakula, aka Mikhaylo Vityk) bends somewhat familiar tropes into fascinating, fresh shapes. Clearly enamored of American funk, soul, and jazz, V recalibrates these familiar elements—the amino acids of house—into dream-logic, hypnotic scenarios that accentuate their visceral and cerebral qualities. One of 13th District’s highlights is “Untitled I,” which elicits a 3 AM poignancy through a languid, soul-jazzy house trot, wrenching the heart further by looping a female vocalist crooning, “My love.” On a grittier tip, “Untitled V” weaves urgent gangster dialogue through a Curtis Mayfield-esque blaxploitation-flick scenario—phenomenal corkscrewing bass line, pimp-rolling beats, reverbed falsetto vocals—filtered through a hazy distancing effect that only adds to its dramatic power. On “Untitled XII,” V contrasts brutal, off-center beats and a forbidding bass line with twinkling keyboard and xylophone tones and tranquil clarinet motif, creating a gorgeous tension between opposing forces. If anything could resurrect the long-dormant trip-hop genre, it’s this stunning track. Elsewhere on 13th District, there are tracks that recall Marvin Gaye’s phenomenal 1972 soundtrack for Trouble Man—a kind of dazed, glazed soulfulness in which some people in supremely difficult, tense situations seek escape and solace. The funk on 13th District is thick and deep, slowed to a sumptuous lope, the better to augment libidinous impulses. The tracks here are outrageously sensuous, but not in overt ways. V spurs erotic shivers with utmost subtlety—and with a hint of derangement. There’s a sweet madness to his methodical method.

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