From inside Ukraine comes driving techno to give you new strength. We welcome Alex Glass for a guest mix, recorded just hours before the invasion began – and talk to him about techno and feeling in times of war.

Image from Odesa this week. Anonymous.

Alex writes us now from inside Ukraine, as Russia’s attacks and occupation continue. I’ve known his brutally hard and aerobic music for a while – we met in St. Petersburg, back when it was an open city as opposed to its new condition this year. While we are understanding the independent spirit of places, you can call that region as he sometimes has by its other name, Ingria. It’s a distinct historical area with its own indigenous people (the Izhorians) and endangered language. It’s bordered by the Gulf of Finland, Estonia and the river Narva, and extending south – containing St. Petersburg. That may sound arcane to outsiders, but these identities are very real, very deep, and you should expect them to become more exposed as we all reexamine place. If they sound like a reach now, it’s partly because their independent and indigenous histories were intentionally erased by empire, like many of the places we all come from.

Alex has been the mind behind Northern Techno Alliance.

He writes with this description:

Hard techno for hard times. So it happened I recorded this mix literally a few hours before the war, at the very beginning of that fateful night on February 24, at the dawn of which Putin’s troops launched an invasion of Ukraine. Thus, it turned out to be a kind of bridge between the usual normal and peaceful life and that terrifying new reality, where instead of a beat, the sounds of shots sound, and the sky is illuminated not by strobe lights, but by flashes of rockets falling. At the moment, music remains for me the main and most important outlet, allowing me not to go crazy from everything that happens. I hope that this mix will make the mood of some of the listeners at least a little better. Thank you for your attention. Fuck war. Invaders must die. Support Ukraine & love each other.

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot, too, what meaning music has in these kinds of times, so I asked Alex about what meaning techno has in the midst of this invasion. If those “violent” techno sounds echo the sounds of the actual war outside, are they still comforting? Here’s his answer:

Since the beginning of the war, I have not listened to any music for almost a month and have not watched clips. Somehow it happened. If someone had told me earlier that I would live a whole month without music, I would have laughed and would not have believed it. But what happened is happened.

Perhaps it happened because there was too much stress and tension from the negative circumstances that had fallen and the brain refused to perceive anything other than news from the front. And also perhaps because techno in particular and electronic music in general for me was firmly connected with the usual peaceful life and extremely positive vibes. When the war began, the vibe and mood in general became completely opposite, as a result of which a certain dissonance arose in the head. It was only literally in the last week that I finally found the strength to reset my head and gradually began to listen to music again. In particular, he got to the new album Miss Kittin & The Hacker 🤘🏻

That was just a few days ago, so maybe now is the time to listen again.

Alex asked me to emphasize that he will “continue to stay in Ukraine until the victory.”

So I hope to see you all there, to meet again and to rebuild.