Men Seni Suyemin (Kazakh for “I love you”) is the solo electronic project of St. Petersburg-based musician & producer Minona Volandova. Her arrangements toe the line between experimental electronic and atmospheric post-rock, centered around elegant guitar melodies that reflect her classically-trained background. Her new EP HOPE, her first release on Brooklyn label 2MR, is a genre-defiant, multilingual collection of irresistible tracks.
After several tumultuous experiences playing in bands during her days at music school, Voldanova set off on her own, relocating from her native Kazakhstan to St. Petersburg in the hopes of forming a “one-man band.” It was a risky endeavor in a city where she knew virtually no one, but Voldanova is nothing if not perseverant. Soon enough she’d made a name for herself in her new home, releasing solo music with Russian imprint Ionoff Music and performing at notable festivals like Leningrad Bridges, Solar Systo, Kastry, Moscow Music Week, and more. Most recently, she was invited to participate in a music residency via PRLL and Spotify EQUAL, where she had the opportunity to work on her new tracks in a studio with high-end equipment and synthesizers for the first time. The tracks on HOPE emerged during those sessions, and as a result, are some of her most polished-sounding and bold songs yet.
Lead single “NOZH” (which translates to “knife”) encapsulates this progression: it begins delicately, with Volandova singing in a whisper over a melancholy guitar, and builds into an urgent, glitched-out dance track driven by a chugging beat and pitched-up vocals. The rest of the collection is similarly dynamic – songs like “TRAVEL” and “S.O.S.” recall the fluid textures of Durutti Column and other Factory Records releases, while others like “SUMMER” and “BRIGHT FEELING” conjure the playful experimentation of Yaeji and early Grimes.
Listening to HOPE conjures the feeling of walking through a crowded city alone: weaving between crowds and quiet side streets, negotiating moments of happiness and loneliness. Reflecting on her artistic process, Volandova remembers a quote from Dostoevesky’s The Idiot: “I would like to talk with at least one person in the world as with myself.” She’s accomplished this on HOPE. Though her music sounds entirely new, there’s a heartfelt quality to it that cuts through, like a knife, to the familiar.